If you’re an online writer who hasn’t heard about Google’s recent algorithm change, dubbed the “Farmer” or “Panda” update, you must not have turned on your computer in the last month. This tweak to the search engine giant’s ranking software hit many writing sites hard, including Helium.

Search engine research blog SISTRIX looked at how some sites have lost visibility since the change. Sites like Articlebase.com, Suite101 and Associated Content lost nearly all visibility. Whereas, other writing sites like Yahoo Answers and eHow came up big in search ranking.

Google’s Amit Singhal, who works to improve the algorithm, has made it clear what Google wants, “Create relevant and useful content with original analysis that people will want to link to and share,” he told the Boston Globe.

That means as an online writer you should not:

  • Rehash news with no original analysis or information.
  • Post your content to multiple writing sites.
  • Write about topics no one is searching for.

Helium VP Architecture and Technology Tracy Flynn explains, “We’ve taken a lot of time to talk to SEO experts and others knowledgeable in the industry. The clear consensus is that, regardless of what adjustments Google may make in response to the public debate about the recent changes, it will continue to add a strong ‘negative’ weight to duplicate content.”

As an online writer you should:

  • Share your passion — write what you know, whether that’s antique autos or local news in your town.
  • Write high-quality original content that people want to read.
  • Write articles that provide readers with original analysis on news and information.
  • Cite sources to give your article credibility and direct readers to additional information.
  • Build your portfolio and “brand” by publishing articles on a regular basis.
  • Promote your writing through social search — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. — and encourage your readers to share too.

Interested in more info about Google’s algorithm change? Read our blog posts:

Google ‘Farmer’ update and Helium

Google ‘Farmer’ update and Helium – Part 2

Google ‘Farmer’ update and Helium – Part 3

Not a member of Helium yet? Then what are you waiting for – join and write for Helium today!

Title Search (‘Title Finder”) is another search on the site that allows you to find titles.

Currently, it lives on the ‘Write Menu’ (Click ‘Write’ on the main toolbar) and then click the ‘Title Finder’ button. It’s on the ‘Write Menu” because we think it’s useful for those of you who write, but anyone can use it – you don’t have to be logged in.

Here’s what it looks like.

Title Finder

Title Finder

This search operates a little differently from Site Search – it only searches through titles and their associated keywords. It also provides additional features not found in Site Search.

  • You can search for matches on all words (the default), any words and on an exact phrase (‘Find Results’ section)
  • You can limit the channels that are searched (‘Type of Title > Find Titles only in channel’)
  • You can look for all types of titles or limit yourself just to debates (‘Type of Title > All or Debate only’)

Those are the features that will probably be most useful to you.

If you want to focus your search even further, you can use a couple more of the advanced features. These are intended to help you find titles that you might write on. But, again, anyone can use them.

  • You can limit your search to all titles (the default), titles from the Helium Markeplace or titles that don’t have any articles written yet. (‘Type of Title > ‘Show Titles’)
  • You can sort your results in a variety of ways. Click the little arrow in the box below ‘Type of Title > Sort by’ to see a full list of possible sort orders.

Well, that’s it for this search. I think you can see that the combination of features in Title Finder gives you a lot of power to find just the titles you’re looking for.

Some of the more advanced features in this search are shared with other searches on the site. I’ll talk about one of those searches in my next post.

This is the first in a series about search and how search works at Helium.

There are a number of places search is used on the Helium site. Some searches are immediately visible – think of the ‘Search Helium’ box at the top right most pages on the site, or Title Finder on the ‘Write’ page. Other searches work behind the scenes – when viewing an article, there’s a ‘Related Titles’ section on the right-hand side towards the top.

In fact, at last count, there are seven different types of search used on the site. Two of them are used for internal, administrative purposes, so that leaves five that are visible to you.

Look for brief descriptions of each of the searches. I’ll update this introduction with the links as I post information about the individual searches.

Search Helium (Site Search)

Site search (“Search Helium”) is the most commonly search on the site (for humans at a keyboard). It provides a general search across all articles on the site. There’s one major restriction. You can only find articles that you can navigate to without logging in.

When searching, we match on the following (in order of importance):

  • Words or phrases in the article title
  • Keywords (derived from Suggest Title and added by the system)
  • Article contents
  • Pen name

The results are then ordered using a complex set of rules (more in a future discussion).

Hint: You can search for articles by writer – just type the writer’s pen name in the search box.

Introducing Search