There are certain sites that seem to have the answer for everything under one domain: family, food, health, home, money, style or more. Sites like eHow.com claim to have every how-to, DIY, and home remedy anyone would ever need, but are they credible resources for information? The answer is no, and Google’s new search algorithm is designed to stop these so-called “content farms” from gaining the top spot on search result lists.

A Facebook friend of mine recently changed their status to: “if you’re not on the first page of Google, you don’t exist.” This is what people think. The top spot on a search page typically attracts 20% to 30% of the page’s clicks, Positions 2 to 3 generate 5% to 10% of the clicks, and links below the fold receive less than 1% of users’ attention.

If the query “How to change a tire” receives 200,000 searches per month, then the topic is worth writing an article about and it’s guaranteed traffic. So it goes like this, popular search topics are researched, and titles are made to manipulate high search results. The site itself will usually have just as many advertisements as it does information, and the popular topics are used to make a profit from advertising dollars.

Content farms pay people almost no money to turn out very mediocre content that can serve up very cheap ads. Like speculators who make a killing exploiting simple supply-and-demand markets, some companies try to one-up Google’s algorithm.

So, more than a month ago, Google made possibly the most visible change it has ever made to its search results — an operation it nicknamed “Panda” but that many others called “Farmer.” This relatively large change to the algorithm affected about 12% of queries on Google.

The intention behind the shift was to give credit where credit is due. What Google calls “high-quality” content, is now designed to trump spam sites. Google defines good content as “information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.” Since the change, traffic to more quality sites has grown between 5% and 50%.

EHow was spared during the algorithm change — but Examiner was not. The site that pays freelance writers $1 an article is almost 80% less visible than it was before Google made the change. For numbers on the change check out this update on SISTRIX.


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