Google Farmer Update – Self Diagnostic Kit

I have been having lots of people contact me over the weekend panicing over whether they have been affected by Google’s latest algorithmic update “Farmer”.

If you have relatively stable search traffic volume it is fairly easy to detect and I have a custom report set up to do the sleuthing work.

Google Farmer Google Analytics

I have actually added an extra dimension to the custom report to examine the effect on individual pages

To save you a little work you can just click this link and my custom report will be added to your Google analytics.

To use this you will then need to select the custom report and then compare date ranges. Google made the update around Wednesday/Thursday last week and currently it only affects US traffic.

Google Farmer - Compare To Past

I believe the “√§justment” is based on site authority which I like to liken to the quality score used in Adwords – it makes search traffic from Google more expensive for lower quality sites. This is similar to the way some other Google penalties work.

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  1. says

    Andy, I came to your post via Ed Dale’s link on Facebook.

    Thank you for giving us access to your custom report.

    When I click on the link, it gets added to the first site in my google analytics account, which isn’t a site that gets used much any more.

    I wonder – do you know if there’s way I can add it to a different site(s) in my google analytics account?

    • says

      Hi Isha

      If you go into manage custom reports there is an option to push the report over to any other profiles you have access to, even ones for clients etc.

  2. says

    haha its funny to see so much people panicking each time there is an apparent change in Google’s algorithm haha! I think relying alone on traffic on Google is a big mistake, I learned it the hard way. Build massive backlinks thats it!

    • says

      In reply to Fazal Mayar about not relying solely on Google for traffic… isn’t building massive numbers of backlinks really just about placing higher in the SERPs for search engines including Google? I don’t see how backlinking as a strategy means you don’t have to worry about algorithm changes at the search engines… I could see other strategies like banners, list building, social media marketing and even PPC as ways to avoid relying on search engine traffic, and I think this update shows (yet again) that diversification is the best strategy on a long-term basis. If you just want a few months of doing well, then never mind, but if you’re in it for the long haul…!

  3. Marck says

    Thank you for this custom report. I used it to check if my sites are affected and so far so good ‘coz I’m not a fan of blackhat seo to begin with. Google should have really done the “farmer update” sooner.

    • says

      I wouldn’t class this as a blackhat crackdown – lots of article directories for instance have taken a hit and they have been a significant “white hat”method of promoting content for years.

      I also wouldn’t regard as some kind of internet cesspit.

      It is important to monitor because of the knockon effect – the sites that were linked from the sites hit that linked to somewhere else that linked to you.

  4. says

    Did the rankings go down? Or did results disappear from the search results?

    It is tough to look at traffic an be certain it isn’t seasonal.

    • says

      That is always a tough question James, but if the hit is just one specific territory, certainly if you compare now you can see quite dramaitc results.

  5. says

    I was under the impression that this was more of a duplicate content issue than a site authority issue. For example, if you have an article you’ve written that has syndication across 20 websites. Google doesn’t know which is the most authoritative version until it factors in “page authority”. Generally you’re blog or website will be the actual “home” of that article and will, most of the time, have the most “page authority”. Therefore any article site page that holds that content will be considered duplicate content and take a hit in the SERPs.

    Is there more to it than that? Has Google actually manually pulled a certain amount of “page authority” from article sites as a whole in order to push down their content?

    • says

      I am pretty convinced it is the equivalent to the typical hit on PPC when someone’s pages go from a QS7 to QS1

      It isn’t even really based on juice or duplicate content. As an example I have a convenient test article on 2 article directories and a search for the title of the article results in an unattributed copy of the article showing (they stripped out all mention of me)

  6. t-shirt shop,t shirt fan,fun shirt says

    This is really a very informative and innovative post.It needs a lot of hard work for providing such posts.Thank you for it.

    • says

      Maybe, but intelligence doesn’t really get granular to US traffic from Google

      I have just had a bump up from posting something for the first time in 3 months… but it didn’t change my search volume.

  7. says

    Thanks for this Andy. I’ll throw out that it might be worth comparing 4 weeks (2 weeks before and after), and expanding that as G starts to make some changes. It appears they’ve already made one as of this past Mon/Tue…and I’d expect some more over the next few weeks IMO.

    • says

      Google tend to update authority levels over the weekend and I normally look for changes in Monday’s volumes as a point of reference.

      An example of 2 weeks might work depending on seasonal variations etc for the particular site

  8. says

    I can now check more effectively the traffic I have been receiving in my Google Analytics. The post you have here is quite simple and yet helpful to us. Thanks Andy :)

  9. says


    I am sooo bad with setting up reports so you are a genius. Thank you for this and in looking at these results, I showed a slight improvement. WOO wee, im not a farmer! :)

    Thanks again,

  10. says

    Thank you for this very useful report!

    Had a 6.32% increase…so looks like I was not scraped to badly…still a few posts about I need to hit up.

    Thanks again

  11. says

    Sorry for double comment; but on another site had a drop of a small % (30 or so hits per day) which started post 27th Feb. was wondering generally what is the ‘monthly’ variance that should be discounted?

  12. says

    I have been using Google analytics for a long time and i didnt know about that.
    Im new in SEO trying to learn. Your blog seems to have really valuable information
    Thanks again for sharing this tip


  13. Dennis says

    Andy, I stumbled upon this blog by accident but found it very informative. Do you offer any e-book which goes deeper into the “how” you are able to “add extra dimensions” to your Google analytics.. Greeze comment above was also informative, but I wasn’t sure what your comment meant with the term “granular” in this context.

  14. says

    lol ok so I find myself reading through comments often (not sure why) and Andy, you made me laugh ->

    “t-shirt shop,t shirt fan,fun shirt March 2, 2011 at 6:07 am
    This is really a very informative and innovative post.It needs a lot of hard work for providing such posts.Thank you for it.


    Andy Beard (1913 comments.) March 3, 2011 at 10:25 am
    It certainly took a lot more work than the time it took you to come up with your comment spam.”

    Thank you.. Now I only wish they would come back to read that..

    • says

      Maybe they did – I send emails on replies to comments

      Also others read it such as yourself, so it has some value doing occasionally

  15. says

    Hi Andy, thanks for the great resource. It’s always good to keep an eye on what Google does to the search results algorithm. It’s always interesting to see what they’re up to. There’s not too much to worry about though if the content we post day in and day out is high-quality, even lengthy content.

    Thanks again for the custom report tip, I need to use the custom reports more often. :)


  16. says

    I think I get the gist of what you’re saying, but I didn’t see a big difference in the sample report. Did you find a big difference in your traffic?

  17. says

    When Google introduced these changes the rankings of my site for the list of keywords jumped 10-20 lines up. It might as well be a coincidence: Google provides no explanations :)

    PS: looking forward to your new posts, Andy

  18. says

    The question is what you can do about it if you’ve been affected.

    Chances are it’s your fault, does highlight the power Google wields.

    The guy from lost half his traffic and has no clue why or how to fix it, it’s a little funny although I wouldn’t like to laugh but then I don’t have 90,000 uniques a day.

  19. says

    Why do they call it the Google ‘farmer’ update? Has it got something to do with farming the Internet (for good soil and crops, ie high quality content)?

    By the way, if you want to go ‘farming’ for pap (or what I would call dodgy spun articles) then check out ArticlesBase dot com and GoArticles dot com – I think they were both hit by a couple of big ‘Google storms’ which is kind of good in a way because those sort of articles shouldn’t be getting through the gate… I keep asking myself, why on earth would you let that happen to a PR6 (articlesbase) site? But I digress…

    Anyway, always nice to read your stuff Andy.
    PS feel free to check out the articles I’ve written on my site. Love to know what you think.

  20. says

    Any, thanks for sharing this.

    I have seen my ranks all drop, but not sure if it was a 401 redirect issue I fixed. or if it was the update.

    Will give it a few weeks and see.. then use your form to test..

  21. says

    Andy, I got a notification mail from ezine articles about these google updates, they said that despite Google’s frequent updates on their algorithm, they are still able to cope up with it. It is only, because of such updates, there are more niches that gained traffic like the ‘symptoms of ‘ niche. My friend told me, that after the update, his article posted on article directories went down including ezine. What is your stand on this? As an online worker or online ninja I say, it is very panicking to get lowered traffic on our articles which we consider our bread and butter.


    • says

      People will just post more articles for lower cost to compensate if there is a lesseened effect from article marketing (depends on how you do it too)

  22. says

    Thanks for this. I’ve read about the Farmer update and assumed I wasn’t effected, but it’s nice to be able to check to be sure.

    It’s my goal to provide relevant original content on my little site and I understood that this update was more targeted to auto blogs and the like.

    There is so much to learn when starting out!