Google Farmer Update: Quest for Quality

During this week, Google announced a significant algorithm-update which aims to increase quality in Google’s search results. Domains containing low-quality content are supposed to be found less often, high-quality pages are to achieve better rankings. At the moment this update is active in the US-Index, more countries are about to follow.

Quickly named an “Anti-Demand-Media”-Update, I couldn’t find any real data proving this claim. I’d like to change this with this posting: Based on a dataset of one million keywords, which were checked before the update and yesterday I can determine the biggest loser of this algorithm-change. The SISTRIX Visibility Index is an index value calculated from traffic on keywords, ranking and click-through rate on specific positions. Let’s start with a list of the 25 biggest losers:

#DomainChangeSISTRIX (before)SISTRIX (after)# KWs (before)# KWs (after),5828,2274.02421.940,086,65184.50854.277,043,28178.37336.904,167,40152.99850.178,256,5586.47224.423,292,57216.42953.512,263,0142.4867.992,732,3227.5017.459,785,8362.03436.167,882,1826.0009.799,754,2849.54417.833,961,1682.27431.365,203,3933.2227.601,493,2333.8759.740,241,1321.5564.813,894,9023.2566.870,432,6793.34734.681,953,2774.50645.495,981,7464.81020.189,521,4633.64811.142,831,7937.36416.268,931,1167.31426.054,051,6238.3468.511,542,1970.78131.272,861,0816.4576.034

The table shows the domain, percentage loss, SISTRIX before and after the update as well as the number of keywords found from the one million dataset for this domain before and after the algorithm-change. It is sorted by the biggest absolut loss in SISTRIX Visibility Index. Comparing these results with the announcement from Google, they seem to have reached their goal: a whole lot of low-quality domains lost significant visibility in the US Google-SERPs.

Let’s see in detail what Google did to the affected domains. The first conclusion is quite straightforward: the number of keywords these domains are ranking for dropped dramatically. Looking at as an example, it went from 33,875 keywords before the update to just 9,740 keywords after the update went public – a decrease of more than 70%. These were keywords like “zealand air“ (3), “digg“ (8) or “tax check“ (4) where the domain fell out of the top 100 results. The second outcome deals with the remaining keywords. Here is a chart on which Google result page the keywords of were to be found before and after the algorithm-update:

It’s eye-catching that did not only lose more than 70% of their keywords – the remaining keywords are also ranking much worse than before. More than two third of all keywords for this domain could be found on result page 8, 9 and 10. That’s the reason the SISTRIX value fell even more than the raw count of found keywords.

And how about Demand Media? Well, there is no sign that Google tried to downrank even gained SISTRIX value (from 270 to 310) and Keywords (from 317,320 to 324,021) during the algorithm-change. Looking at the SERP-Distribution chart from above for, you’ll notice the difference. Quite a statement from Google regarding the quality of Demand Medias’ content, isn’t it? If you are interested in a full list of 100 Domains suffering from this update, please drop me a short notice.

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