Google Farmer Update Improving Search Quality

content scraper

Google Farmer Update Improving Search Quality


A recent change to the Google algorithm gives much attention to a problem that has been affecting hard working webmasters for years now and that problem is people scraping and stealing content, they use your content under the guise of their own work and for their own financial benefit.

It is important to understand the Google farmer update improves search quality and only a small amount of webmasters will be affected by this algorithm update.

A recent post at the Google blog called Finding more high-quality sites in search and posted by Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts says that the change affects 11.8% of the search queries performed in Google. According to that article…

Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

Although 11.8% might seem like a lot websites are going to be affected, it is only a fraction of the information across the Web.

According to Google Zeitgeist 2010, billions of search queries where performed in 2010.

Google Zeitgeist 2010: How the world searched

Based on the aggregation of billions of search queries people typed into Google this year, Zeitgeist captures the spirit of 2010.

If billions of search queries are performed in Google, then of those search results, 118 million website pages would be affected, there are approximately 205.3 million domain name registrations across all Top Level Domains (TLDs) in the fourth quarter of 2010 as a VeriSign report stated last February.

Source: Zooknic, January 2011
ccTLD Breakdown Source: Zooknic, January 2011

The total amount of search results being affected is a drop in a bucket compared the total amount of information across the web.  We will know more as time progresses.

Although rather vague, it is also important to note that this update only applies to the U.S. and there are plans to launch it elsewhere over time, according to Google.

The Google Farmer Update Affects


The Google Farmer was implemented not only to improve the quality of search but more importantly, to combat against bad results from showing up in the search engine result pages to begin with. This update affects sploggers, scrapers, and content farms.

If you are not familiar with the term content scraping, let me explain it briefly. A scraper is someone that copies your content verbatim – word for word and publishes your content on his or her website. The scenario usually plays out like this— you get an email or someone comments on an article you wrote saying…

“I love your style of writing. I was wondering if I could post part of it on my website?”

Part means all and sometimes they are nice enough to add…

“I will even link back to you!”

And you say…

“Of course, why not go ahead! I love to write and work for free — while you make money at stealing my copyrighted work for your own gain!”

Most content scrapers / sploggers do not bother asking you — especially if your RSS feed sends your subscribers the full post to their email address. I caught on quick – you can too. The best way to combat against these automated scrapers is to set your RSS feed to display an excerpt of each post. This makes it tougher for them to scrape your content to begin with.

Will article rewrites be affected by the Google Farmer Update?


An article rewrite, on the other hand, is not considered bad website content. It is simply a published piece of work you already own the rights to and you have someone else rewrite it for you, or you rewrite the work yourself. The same thing occurs in the real publishing world when an author creates a condensed version of their published novel; this version is called the abridged version.

The difference between scraping content and rewriting content is who owns the copyright of the published work. You can bet that the Google farmer update is all about improving search quality and if you are an ethical writer, you should have no worries about being affected by it.

Please share if your website was affected by the Google Content Farm update, we would love if you shared your experience in the form of a comment below.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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