Google has a big problem with content "farmers". And they ought to. Low quality content scraping sites are a pox upon the Internet. But Google's definition of just what constitutes a content farm is more than a little fuzzy. The search engine was happy to throw out some sweeping reforms to their ranking algorithm. But they don't really seem to care about helping sites wrongly identified as content farms from getting back to their rightful place.
Some sites have been able to 'fix' their traffic by complaining loudly enough to Google. I4U was not one of those sites. Which lead to a really uncomfortable situation last week when I posted my iPad 2 in Guatemala review.
The organic search results for "iPad Guatemala" are right here. Summaries from three different news blogs show up before the original article itself. Which, by the way, ends up on the very bottom of the page. If we add "volcano" to the search terms, things get even more messed up. The first page shows ten different sites, most of which simply repackaged the same basic summary. I haven't gone further than the third page, but I4U still hadn't shown up at all by then.
My final test was "iPad 2 Guatemala Review". Surely that would return I4U at the top of the search results. Nope. Eight other sites show up before ours does. Most of them even used the exact same title as the original article did. Where is Google's support for original content? Is I4U somehow less legitimate a source than those sites feeding off my review?
Google is fond of making great, sweeping changes, but they have a bad habit of not looking before they leap. We saw it with Google Buzz and we're seeing it again with their 'war' on content farming. The purpose of this whole brouhaha is, ostensibly, to push blogs and news rags to put out more original content. I did that. And Google gave our traffic away to someone else.
Thanks for the incentive, guys.
Note from the Chief Editor:
We have been actively trying to change our site to address potential issues that are discussed as reasons for suffering from Panda. Either our actions have not been the correct ones or Google is not updating their data to help get sites out of the deep Panda hole that publish original content. Besides the financial stress Google put on us, or writers like Robert describes above are getting more and more frustrated to not get a fair chance on getting their work read.