The latest update to Google’s Search Engine Ranking Algorithm, known internally as the “Panda” update and externally as the “Farmer” update, primarily targets content farms. This update was rolled out on Wednesday, February 23rd and tweaked on Tuesday, March 1st.

You may have already heard, as there’s a wealth of excellent coverage currently out there such as:

However, we found ourselves explaining and comforting to such a degree that we thought we’d publish a simple how-to guide for the layman who wishes to determine if he’s been affected.

What is a Content Farm?

Essentially, a content farm is a web property or group of properties that creates low-quality “optimized” content en masse designed more for the purpose of ad generation than valuable information. Other attributes include:

How to Tell if You’ve Been Affected by the “Farmer” Update

The fastest way to tell if you have been affected by the “Farmer” update is to check Google Analytics. Unfamiliar with GA? Here’s a play by play:

  • Log into Google Analytics
  • Click on Traffic Sources
  • Click on Search Engines
  • In the list of Search Engines, Click on Google
  • Under the graph, where it says “Show” click on “non-paid”
    If you use another analytics program (Coremetrics, Omniture) look in organic referrals by Search Engine.

Once you’re in, there are a couple things you need to do:

  • Check to see if you have seen a dramatic decrease in traffic since February 24th
  • Compare that to the previous week and the previous month
    Saturday and Sunday may be normal low traffic periods.

If it’s looking grim, you have the option to request consideration from Google. Make sure you’re very detailed when writing out the case for reconsideration.

What About Paid Link Penalties?

Do not confuse the “Farmer” algorithm change to Google’s recent crackdown on paid links. Stay tuned for more info on how to verify if you’re being penalized for paid links.