Google’s Farmer Update was rolled out for all English-language searches on 11th April, and results are still coming in from site owners worldwide. Although webmasters and SEOs had a headstart with the information gleaned from the update’s US release, many sites were still caught out.
The Farmer Update had a big impact on US-based sites when it was released at the end of February this year. The update, which targeted sites with low-quality or duplicated content, resulted in a loss of visibility for many article hosting websites as well as individual websites with duplicate content issues. As studies of the more recent release have shown, some sites escaped the brunt of the damage in the US, only to suffer when the international rollout came.
One of the worst hit, eHow.com, suffered an estimated 84% loss of visibility in the search engines within the first 48 hours of the update. eHow’s parent company, Demand Media, responded to this estimate with a terse press release, reassuring its investors that the company expected the current dip in traffic levels to rise again. It was notable, though, that Demand Media did not discuss how this would be achieved.
Many site owners appealed to Google for help after the update. The main tone of such appeals was confusion. Site owners were puzzled by the change in effect between the US and international roll-out. Google’s answer, however, was the same as most search engine optimisation experts: check for scraped content, plug security holes, and get your content back on track.