Last week, Google unveiled an algorithm update designed to ensure that its SERPs aren’t dominated by low-quality content farms which specialize in producing rivers of search engine-friendly pages.

The rationale for this update is clear: faced with increasing public criticism over the quality of its SERPs, Google had to act.

And act it did. Early analyses of the Google ‘Farmer‘ update show that some recognizable names whose content used to appear prominently on the first page of many Google SERPs have been knocked back.

German SEO solutions provider SISTRIX, which looked at its own historical data, determined that the 15 sites hurt the most by Google’s update so far are:

  • wisegeek.com
  • ezinearticles.com
  • suite101.com
  • hubpages.com
  • buzzle.com
  • associatedcontent.com
  • freedownloadscenter.com
  • essortment.com
  • fixya.com
  • americantowns.com
  • lovetoknow.com
  • articlesbase.com
  • howtodothings.com
  • mahalo.com
  • business.com

Rounding out the top 25 are a number of other recognizable names, including articlesbase.com, merchantcircle.com, findarticles.com, examiner.com and answerbag.com.

According to SISTRIX, “the number of keywords these domains are ranking for dropped dramatically.” Using Mahalo as an example, SISTRIX notes:

Looking at mahalo.com as an example, it went from 33,875 keywords before the update to just 9,740 keywords after the update went public – a decrease of more than 70%. These were keywords like “zealand air“ (3), “digg“ (8) or “tax check“ (4) where the domain fell out of the top 100 results.

It’s eye-catching that mahalo.com did not only lose more than 70% of their keywords – the remaining keywords are also ranking much worse than before. More than two third of all keywords for this domain could be found on result page 8, 9 and 10.

Other analyses seem to confirm this level of pain. Dan Abbamont says that, on average, ezinearticles.com dropped 34 spots, suite101.com dropped 33 spots and buzzle.com dropped 29 spots.

Obviously, it’s still early and there will certainly be a lot more analysis of the impact of the Farmer update in the days and weeks to come, but given how hard some of the most prominent content farms have been hit, it would be surprising to see a sudden reversal of fortunes.

That’s bad news for the content farmers whose crops have been uprooted by Google. Worth pointing out:

  • Yahoo purchased Associated Content less than a year ago for a reported sum of $90 to $100m. If Associated Content’s drop makes it harder to keep freelance writers around, Yahoo may have another addition to its acquisition hall of shame.
  • Business.com, which was purchased several years ago for more than a quarter-billion dollars, was sold again this month to a company called Resource Nation. That timing looks horrible now.
  • Mahalo, whose SEO exploits have been discussed at some length in the past, has ‘pivoted more times in its relatively short life than an Olympic athlete, but one has to wonder if it will be able to survive the drop in ad revenue it will ostensibly see after Google’s SERP smackdown.

Needless to say, the Farmer update will almost certainly force many of the companies most hurt to change, but it will also be interesting to see the effects it has on those that fear being ensnared in future Google algorithm updates designed to boost SERP quality.

After all, some content farms thus far appear to have escaped Google’s wrath. Perhaps the most notable: Demand Media.

One thing is certain: Google is sending very strong messages about its willingness to clear up its index, and those who ignore these messages do so at their own peril.