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Search update: B2B sites are not immune to Google’s update

B2B is often called the ‘poor cousin’ of B2C, with some marketers taking the view that B2B marketing is far more limited in its approaches.

This is certainly not the case with search, where all the same techniques apply, even if achieving success can be more challenging, due to a lower number of specialist keywords, and the potential for clashes with consumer-related terms. The use of a wide range of techniques means that B2B search marketers are exposed to the same conditions as those in B2C, and therefore anyone who has been using ‘article syndication’ to boost their rankings over the last year or so should be prepared for a major negative reaction. In fact, for many this may have already happened.

The dust is settling on Google’s “Farmer” update after it affected approximately 12% of all search results on Google. It seems that the update mainly affected article sites (also called content farms) like Ezinearticles, but it has been reported that some genuine, non-content farm websites have also been touched by the Google Farmer bomb.  Some websites even claim to have seen their traffic drop by as much as 40%.

At present, the update is said to only affect US-based results, but websites from all over the world have already been affected in some way due to the fact that a high number of links coming from US-based content farms have been made irrelevant. (Josh Hall - Simply Business).  

Analysers are forecasting that this update will be rolled out worldwide very soon. So if you have links coming  from content farms, it is essential to consider ways to avoid losing your website’s authority and traffic, as you are pretty much certain to see a dip that will need to be corrected.

Below is a selection of analyses by some of the search gurus with my comments:

Rand Fishkin (Seomoz) said: “It seemed that sites whose pages had fewer and/or less intrusive blocks of advertisements on them tended to be in the winner bucket, while those with more and more intrusive advertising tended to be in the loser group”. It also seems that having Google Adsense ads on your web pages has now a considerable weight in Google’s algorithm. This is quite strange because Adsense is a moneymaking product provided by Google itself. It is most probably a case of to the way you ’use’ Adsense and using it moderately. Content Farms like Ezine ( are known to have a lot of Adsense ads on their pages, and after the update they lost about 82% of their traffic. Our advice would be to carefully analyse pages from which your website is receiving backlinks. If these pages are overly populated with Adsense ads, then they might be sending the wrong signals to Google which is now devaluing these pages. This will eventually have an overall negative effect on your website.

Paul Carpenter on David Naylor’s blog is very straightforward about this issue, saying:  “If you’ve been using article sites to pad out your link profile, it’s pretty likely that any residual power from those articles will be lost”.   He reminds us that SEO in general is still about building a presence on the search engines and that the concentration of power is a recurring theme of recent Google updates, e.g this is something that brands and big domain names benefit from all the time. Syndication of content for obtaining links has always been a relatively quick technique for acquiring links, but this has never been the only link building technique; as Gifford Morley-Fletcher says: “Never put all your Google eggs in one basket!” Diversifying the way that your site obtains links and traffic is the safest way to stay afloat whenever Google makes major updates with its algorithm. Having links from different sources like academic institutions, Government websites and other websites that have some kind of authority has now become even more valuable. Diversifying incoming links is the best way to go.

Vanessa Fox (from Search Engine Land) advises creating a tactical plan using Google’s advice. Whether you are creating pages for your own website or trying to link from other websites, it is good to try and include the following:

Original content and original research: Sites with unique content have less chance of being caught by Google’s Farmer updates, so avoid using aggregated or syndicated content from other sources.

  • Authoritative information: Content found on your website or the website you are linking to should be informative and useful. It is not sufficient to write generic content on any topic.
  • Compelling added-value: If the page is not unique, you need to think how this page adds any significant value to the original source. If you control the page, you might think of ways of adding more value to it (e.g adding comparison charts).
  • Significant user engagement: Consider how far your web page can go with providing social sharing facilities and backlinks.
  • Valuable content across the entire site: Valuable content should not be placed on one page or a few pages. If valuable content is displayed across the entire website, your website has a better chance to stay at the top.

This update may be a set-back for many, especially as article syndication was an accepted approach and therefore widely used. It was also an approach well-suited to B2B, due to the importance of useful, informative content when communicating with businesses. However this very content than can help take any victims back to the top of the rankings again – it’s just a question of using it to attract interest in the form of visitors and even comments. If you get this right, the search engine traffic won’t be far behind.