Friday, 25 March 2011

The Impact of the Google Famer Update On My Lenses

Well, the Google Farmer update was 23rd Feb, and I think it's been long enough now to step back and see if it actually affected me.

Oh. It really didn't.

My Google Analytics traffic has remained completely steady, with an average of 1,400 pageviews a day (range 1,300-1,600).

Many of my smaller pages are starting to pick up a little more traffic, and  I saw three lenses lose large chunks of search traffic. Otherwise I noticed no difference, and even the differences I saw were within normal ranges for Google fluctuations.

The three pages that I did notice something for were three of my top lenses (all top tier, and averaging 50-100 visits a day)

Mother Gothel: Lost most of it's Google traffic for a while, but stayed steady on image searches and . Now back again, so may simply have been rejuggling, as it's a fairly new lens.

This last week, traffic has picked up again - although the total number of visits doesn't seem to change much.

Cosplaying Mother Gothel: Lost ALL traffic, except for image searches, but was also linked from TVTropes, which fed a steady stream of referrals. Newer than the Mother Gothel lens.

For the last week, I've been seeing regular, if inconsistent, search results.

 These first two are entirely original and without much competition. They're also relatively new - I blame most of the changes on the fact that they're competing with sites like IMDB, that the frenzy of the new release of Tangled is dying down a bit, and because they're well within the 'Google juggling results while deciding where they should go' time frame.

Top Lesbian Media however, is the one that hurt. It had just started raking in traffic from Google (previously mainly referral traffic - a lot of it!), and was steadily over 30 visitors a day (which was awesome, as the first few months it was around 10 a day). The DAY after the update, all traffic vanished.

In the last couple of weeks, it received no traffic at all - except for two completely random, and separate, days when suddenly it would get 20-30 hits from search traffic.I did edit and tweak but I don't really think I did anything worth bringing traffic back - and nothing to explain why it then disappeared again, so clearly Google was literally juggling my lens up and down!

The last few days, traffic is back, and better than ever. This makes me happy, as not only was it a huge amount of work, it actually makes sales.

THIS one I think I can blame on the Farmer update. The vast majority of this lens is just Amazon links (plexos, mostly, because of the number of items I'm listing, and so I can add more, and so people can vote). It is, basically, a nearly pure sales lens. I do have a fair bit of original content, but the ratio of sales stuff to 'me' stuff is markedly different from many other lenses. And I think the fact that it's so wide a niche meant that google needed a bit more overall authority before it would trust it enough to send all the really niche searches to (e.g. lesbian books... okay. What KIND?)

But it's back now. So I'm happy.

There has been one other effect that I've noticed - I'm more motivated to actually write something, add a bit more, make it mine. And editing old lenses, I've been deleting many of the Wikipedia modules - they're fluff, background noise, that doesn't give my lens any extra value or interest or authority. And I KNOW no-one ever clicks the links to read more, whereas they do occasionally in lists of 'further links about this topic'.

Topics people think led to penalties:

  • Duplicate content
  • Content on 'junk/spam' topics
  • Belonging to specific types of website
  • Evil demons
  • Too many no_follow or affiliate or outward links
Personally, I only really think the first two are valid, although I'm holding out for invisible demon lolcats in the internet. But I think they wouldn't be able to resist leaving glowing red pawprints on pages.

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