Weekly SEO news: 1 February 2011
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Earlier this month, Google announced that they would release several new anti-spam algorithms this year. The first algorithm update has just been released and it deals with content farms. How does this affect your website and what do you have to change on your web pages?

Also in the news: some content farm providers claim to have arrangements with Google, local and mobile advertising becomes more important, Google deletes ads in Google Maps and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Google launches a new anti-spam algorithm against content farms

Earlier this month, Google announced that they will release several new anti-spam algorithms this year. The first algorithm update has just been released and it deals with content farms.

What are content farms?

There are two slightly different definitions of content farms:

  1. Content farms are scraper sites that aggregate the content from other sources to get high rankings for a variety of long tail keywords. These sites don't have unique content and they only aggregate the content from other websites to get clicks on their AdSense ads.

  2. Content farms are websites that produce low quality content in bulk. This content is often produced by workers from low-wage countries. The main purpose of these sites is to get high rankings for as many keywords as possible to get clicks on the AdSense ads that are displayed on the site.

Sites that copy the content from other websites often ranked higher than the original site in Google's previous algorithm. That's why Google released the algorithm update.

Google's Matt Cutts confirmed the new algorithm:

"[I mentioned] that 'we're evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others' content and sites with low levels of original content.'

That change was approved at our weekly quality launch meeting last Thursday and launched earlier this week."

Less than 0.5% of search queries have significantly different results

Matt Cutts also said that most surfers won't notice the change:

"This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice.

The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site's content."

The algorithm doesn't seem to be perfect yet

In an online discussion, many webmasters complained that their original sites have suffered while low quality sites still rank well:

"It doesn't matter if it is all 100% unique with tons of backlinks and really well laid out or simply an image. Everything got whacked.

Our out of date non unique ad filled sites are humming along FINE. So what's the message here Google? Write an in depth article that takes 3 days to complete and is linked to by hundreds of companies and gov agencies and loose all positions sitewide while our out of date halfbaked and useless content does fine?"

Should you change your web pages?

Google doesn't like spam. If you want to get lasting rankings on Google, you have to do three things:

Spammy SEO techniques often deliver quick results but they only work for a short time:

If you plan to build a lasting online business, focus on ethical search engine optimization methods. It takes longer to get high rankings with ethical SEO methods but your website will keep the high rankings for a much longer time:

The content farm algorithm update was only the first step. Google will release many more anti-spam algorithms this year. If you want to be successful with your website, you must make sure that you offer a useful site and that you offer Google the content that they want.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Google's John Mueller: what to do if your website has been downranked

In an online discussion, Google's John Mueller says what you can do if your website has been downranked after Google's latest algorithm update:

"One thing that is very important to our users (and algorithms) is high-quality, unique and compelling content. Looking through that site, I have a hard time finding content that is only available on the site itself.

If you do have such high-quality, unique and compelling content, I'd recommend separating it from the auto-generated rest of the site, and making sure that the auto-generated part is blocked from crawling and indexing, so that search engines can focus on what makes your site unique and valuable to users world-wide. "

DemandWhat are Demand Media's secret “agreements” with Google?

"For those of you that haven't heard of the company they are a content farm using outsourced writers to produce 5000 articles per day on sites such as eHow and various other informational resources. [...]

Google declared war on 'content farms' last week but refused to comment on Demand Media specifically. [...] I certainly won't be buying shares in Demand Media anytime soon, unless they can let us have a look at that agreement with Google perhaps."

Google: local and mobile advertising becomes more important

"In Local, over 5 million businesses have claimed their Google place pages. [...]

Click-to-Call ads are generating millions of calls every month. A lot of advertisers are running these campaigns. I think one you can see if you tried is DirectTV. We did launch a call-only option where the only clickable link in the ad is actually a phone number, which not surprisingly substantially increases the click through rates on mobile devices."

Google Local Google drops real estate search listings

"In part due to low usage, the proliferation of excellent property-search tools on real estate websites, and the infrastructure challenge posed by the impending retirement of the Google Base API (used by listing providers to submit listings), we've decided to discontinue the real estate feature within Google Maps on February 10, 2011."

Google's Schmidt wants to set the record straight

"Eric Schmidt opens up about his company's executive shuffle, whether or not Facebook poses a threat, and where Google is competing with Apple. [...]

This has nothing to do with competitors. I publicly said the next 10 years will be as successful as the past 10. We're going to run this way for a while. It's a full-time job just to deal with."

Search engine newslets

  • Rumor: Twitter self-serve ad platform coming next year.
  • Google to acquire fflick for $10 million.
  • Google adds snow conditions results and improved weather forecasts for mobile.
  • Has Larry Page doomed Google? Larry Page's Google 3.0.
  • Ed Vaizey hears MP's concerns over Google monopoly.
  • Bing feature update: compare travel destinations.
  • Google executive missing after Egypt protests.

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3. Success stories

300,000 readers will read your success story!

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better. Click here to tell us your story.

Here's an example:

"We now have several page 1 entries in Google, Bing and Yahoo!"

"We have been using IBP since launching our site. It has proved to be successful for us. We now have several page 1 entries in Google and Yahoo.

In fact we have the number one slot on Yahoo for one of our main key phrases. We found all of the software very useful, particularly the ranking tools, the optimizing section and the submission pages.

We started out looking at our competition and seeing the comparison to our site through the optimizer with the top 10 report. This was able to show how much we differed from the sites above us and offered recommendations to improve our position.

Once we put as much as we could into practice, the results started to come. Now we keep an eye on our positions in the search engines using the ranking checker. It enables you to see your improvements and any downward movements. We can recommend this software."
Steve Sewell, www.PerfectFloridaVillas.com

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