Think You Can Cheat Google to Boost Your Ranking? Think Again!

by YC Ng on March 29, 2011

Content is King…you’ve heard it stated over and over again.

Many people did not believe when experts keep emphasizing on creating excellent quality content for web pages and kept trying to beat the Google system by spamming the engine with keywords just to boost ratings. However, Google had been observing and between 2010 and early 2011, it has made several changes to its algorithm, which is meant to target at low quality web sites or spammy ones.

The question now is the creation of good content.  How do we define good content?

There are three basic ideas about good content that we may look at:

  1. A well-written piece of content which is grammatically correct, with proper spelling and punctuation.
  2. It offers new perspectives and ideas to an issue, based on research that come from valid sources instead of just some superstitious ideas or ideas that are written without careful study of the logic behind a topic.
  3. It does not keep repeating on the keywords unnecessarily with the intention of confusing the search engine bots to think that the site is a good source of information.

Google Panda / Farmer UpdateThe main aim of the change in the algorithm is to cut low quality sites from the search engine results pages (SERPs). The algorithm was changed once before in May 2010, and webmasters called it “Mayday”. When this happened, many sites with bad quality content dropped from the first pages of the search results to as far as beyond the first ten pages.

In early 2011, the first of two algorithm updates has been quietly dubbed the “Scraper” algorithm and is intended to block low quality scraper sites from showing up in the Google index. Later in Feb Google released its second algorithm update dubbed the “Farmer” update, also known as the “Panda” update, that is believed to specifically target content farms.

Content farms are seen as a site, or perhaps a portal, that has a lot of users submission articles, without any rules to determine the validity of the content. Most experts declared that content farms are spammy, and may have been ruled out completely from search engines such as Blekko. An example of a content farm is, which allows non-experts to build articles on the site without much regulations.

The “Farmer” update affected a pretty significant 12% of all search queries. According to Sistrix the biggest loser of this algorithm-change are:

Sistrix Content Farm

Source: Sistrix

A dilemma for SEO Experts

While content becomes the main target for Google to determine the ranking of a site, SEO experts still need to rely on keywords to get things moving. There is still no clear-cut guideline by Google to define quality content, and even the community cannot create any definition to it. There are a lot of question marks in the minds of the web community.

What we know about Google is that it wants content that are relevant, quality and authoritative. Creating such content requires a lot of research and expert copywriting to create the content. Hence, either SEO experts advice companies on the creation of the content, or companies should leave the writing to the experts writers that work hand-in-hand with SEO experts.

Web writing is an art, and just like the writing for any media, is something that should add value and knowledge for the readers.  In the past, there was the statement that anyone with a computer at hand can do writing for the web.  This caused a lot of problems, since such amateur writing may be done without regard to grammar, spelling and even validity of facts. In fact, blog writers may even use common abbreviations used in short message services on mobile phones on their website blogs, assuming that everyone can understand what it means.

Any piece of writing on the Internet should be rhetorically correct.  This means the combination of ethos, pathos and logos, mixed together to create a good piece of writing that will keep readers engaged and increase knowledge. This is ethical writing that will keep the standard and quality of content in check.


The Google algorithm may have changed drastically, but recently there is again some spammy sites that are able to penetrate Google’s algorithm, with topics totally unrelated to the searched keywords by a visitor. Will there be another “Farmer” for 2011?

Whether there will be another “Farmer” or not, we can be sure of one thing: Excellent Quality Content will endure the challenges of Google algorithm anytime, no matter how Google changes. Not only this, quality content will lock the interest of your readers, and lure them coming back for more. Ultimately, with the increase in visitors and reputation, your business will soar indefinitely.

PS. If you were unfairly affected by this update, feedback to this Google Webmaster Support thread.

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