Google’s ranking algorithm attempts to determine the most relevant and high quality search results from a particular query. The search engine giant has recently updated their algorithm (the ‘Farmer’ update, also called the ‘Panda’ update) to penalise websites that have a large amount of ‘shallow’ or ‘low-quality’ content, in a bid to drive spam levels down. We’ve spoken to a few clients who are concerned that this change may affect them. However, the good news is that sites which have a genuine aim of being informative and relevant to the requested search, should not be affected by the changes. The update is intended to combat sites such as ‘content farms’ – sites which harbour thousands, and in some cases millions of pages of very low-quality or copied content. This type of site should now be less likely to appear higher in search results. In effect, this should make it easier for higher-quality sites to be found. Of course, it’s very difficult for a search engine to determine what constitutes high quality content and low quality content, so it’s entirely possible that some good quality sites may have been penalised unfairly while other low quality sites may have retained their good rankings – and Twitter and the search engine forums are full of examples which show that Google does not always get it right. Our advice, as always, is to act responsibly on the web – sooner or later, sites which contain a high volume of spam or low value content may get caught out. As a general rule, if you work in an ethical and responsible way on the web, providing quality content to your users, you’re much less likely to be affected by these types of changes. At Ascendancy we work to benefit our customers in both the short and the long term. For more information on any of our services call 01952 462845 or email Helen.