With Google releasing no less than 7 different “Panda” updates in 2011, now is the perfect time to see if these changes have made any difference to search results.
New Scientist magazine recently published an article on the topic that claims search engines have “won a major victory” in their battle against content farms.
The magazine came to this conclusion after hiring University of Glasgow computer scientist Richard McCreadie to study 50 different search queries which were known to be a target of content farms. Examples of these queries include “how to organise your desktop” and “how to train for a marathon“.
According to the article, as recently as March, the first 10 results from a Google search for “how to organise your desktop” contained nine links to pages churned out by content farms – websites that publish reams of articles, often of dubious quality, that aim simply to attract clicks and advertising dollars.
Google then released a number of “Panda” algorithm updates which aimed at filtering out these questionable search results. According to Mr McCreadie these changes have made an impact,
In the case of the marathon query, sites that contained lists of generic tips, such as “invest in a good pair of running shoes”, were present in the top 10 in March but had disappeared by August, while high-quality sources, such as Runner’s World magazine, now appear near the top. Similar trends were found throughout the 50 queries.
Well known content sites like ehow.com have also backed up the findings, stating that their traffic has dropped by 20 percent following Google’s series of Panda updates.
In related news, Google have also stated that there will be no further Panda updates in 2011 – but webmasters can expect more fine tuning in the new year.