Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

Summary: Google has changed its algorithm to favor "high-quality sites" and cut rankings for sites that "are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites" and "are just not very useful."

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TOPICS: Google
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Google has changed its algorithm to favor "high-quality sites" and cut rankings for sites that "are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites" and "are just not very useful."

The changes, announced in a blog post, go well beyond the usual tweaking. Indeed, nearly 12 percent of queries will be affected. Here's the explanation:

Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.

Also worth noting. Google didn't make the changes based in feedback from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which also gives the search giant some good data to use in the future.

What this amounts to is an attack on content farms and there's definitely a public relations benefit for Google, which has come under fire for its search results quality. Specifically, sites like Associated Content, acquired by Yahoo, and Demand Media, which just went public, could take a hit.

The big question for me: What is Google's unassailable definition of low quality content? We don't quite know yet and Google's algorithm is a secret. As I noted before, there's a slippery slope here where Google acts as the Web's judge and jury.

I do know that I'd be wary of any business model that rests on search engine optimization. Demand Media knows this and issued a statement. The gist:

We have built our business by focusing on creating the useful and original content that meets the specific needs of today’s consumer.  So naturally we applaud changes search engines make to improve the consumer experience – it’s both the right thing to do and our focus as well.

Today, Google announced an algorithm change to nearly 12% of their U.S. query results. As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results.This is consistent with what Google discussed on their blog post. It’s impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term – but at this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business.

Of course, Demand Media wouldn't see a material change since Google just flipped the algorithm switch. On Demand Media's earnings conference call, Google was the main topic. After all, Google's algorithm is one of Demand Media's biggest risk factors.

Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt acknowledged on the company's earnings conference call that the company's content can have "a level of specificity arcane to some." But Rosenblatt has also indicated that Demand Media is filling a role for consumers. In the meantime, Demand Media is diversifying its traffic sources and focusing more on Facebook. The aim: Don't become that dependent on Google.

With Google's algorithm change we'll find out soon enough how dependent Demand Media really is on the search giant.

Topic: Google

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29 comments
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  • Google is doomed.

    They have sold themselves over to the Advertising world and their results are junk. Tweaking some changes like this is nothing but lip-service. They got greedy, arrogant, and now act stupid. Good-riddance.
    james347
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @james347
      Huh!
      On the contrary, it will drive more people to google and others like yahoo and bing will die because they can't keep up with google's innovations!
      Linux Geek
      • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

        @Linux Geek So far the opposite is happening
        OxBAADFOOD
      • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

        @HalfAKilo
        Come on he's a funny little boy to read and his fantasy world
        ItsTheBottomLine
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @james347
      its funny that you claim this as I can't stand bing because the first few links are directly to businesses. Google may do this too, but to a lesser extent and the business links are a different color, so you can skip them easily.
      KBot
    • Completly agree!

      @james347 Google's time is over. Looking for information through the Google reminds me 1995 when I used Altavista. And in order to find anything useful I was randomly clicking somewhere beyond page 20 :-)
      I started collecting useful websites and pages again, because it is very hard to find them again and again ...
      Nikolayev
  • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

    Larry, if you listened to Demand Media's earnings call, you should at least acknowledge the possibility that Google's algorithm change will be good for Demand, as was discussed during the call. As Google gets better at filtering out low quality content, the high-quality work produced by Demand will rise to the top of search results more often. Or at least, that's the theory suggested by Richard Rosenblatt, Demand's CEO, on the earnings call.

    David Sarokin (a Demand freelancer)
    David Sarokin
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @David Sarokin That's assuming Demand is actually quality content... Which it's not it's just keyword spam designed to get people googling something to look at an irrelevant page full of ads. Hate to break it to you buddy, but your company produces crap and is a part of what's wrong with the web today.
      snoop0x7b
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @David Sarokin According to online reports, Demand took a stock hit because of this.
      fairportfan
  • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

    Its about time. Their search results were sorely lacking any relevance to the query.
    Loverock Davidson
    • No kidding

      @Loverock Davidson It's a wonder anyone values the company at all, let alone at $200 billion. The lack of relevance is probably why their stock price is barely over 600 bucks.

      So tell us, Loverock, what do you do that's good besides badmouth Every. Single. Thing. referenced in these blogs?
      Robert Hahn
  • Dear Google...

    I don't want 73,926 results for every search. I want GOOD QUALITY, RELEVANT results.

    The more is not always the merrier.
    sismoc
  • Yay Google

    If this is about getting rid of those sites that are obviously created to pop up no matter what you search for, I applaud this change. Sometimes the top 5 or 6 results turn out to be junk web sites that are created by Evil People for the purpose of wasting other people's time. I send the Pincer Beetles of Pain to infest their loins.
    Robert Hahn
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @Robert Hahn

      +1

      for some searches this useless crap is all you get. I hope it works!
      wkulecz
      • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

        @wkulecz try searching for corrupt windows backup recovery. You get pages of junk, all from about 2 sites. To be fair, I tried it on Bing and it was nearly identical. After 2 days, I still haven't found anything I would consider legit. Just tried the search again and it didn't change.
        20kwfence
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @Robert Hahn

      A year ago I was doing a lot of shopping online, and the thing that was most frustrating was the number of sites that would appear in the search listings supposedly selling an item, but when you went to the site they didn't actually have it. Their idea of "SEO" was to put the model number of every conceivable product in their page so that Google would always display them first.

      This year, the search results do seem more relevant, so Google is apparently trying to get better. I give them credit for that. Bing still doesn't find all the stuff that Google does, so I only use it as a last resort.
      terry flores
      • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

        @terry flores What I have found with my content is that Google finds new content and indexes it much faster than either of it's major rivals (Bing and Yahoo!). This is why Bing seems not to have the same depth of search results that Google has.
        Many article farms seem to produce answers to questions that are current. If a bot does not crawl new content then they are unlikely to find the answer to any current question.
        Humagaia
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @Robert Hahn

      as opposed to pincer beatles of pleasure? lol. But I agree with your statement. I have used a few search engines and Google is on, if not near the top. I am not sure how good yahoo's is anymore now that MS has a partnership with them. I am not a big fan of Bing as it seems very ad centric when it comes to searches. I used to use Askjeeves all the time in highschool, then ask.com, then google, with smatterings of yahoo in between, but for years Google has been my main search engine.
      KBot
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @Robert Hahn The purpose is ad impressions, wasting people's time is ancillary.
      snoop0x7b
    • RE: Google overhauls algorithm, content farms potentially screwed

      @Robert Hahn

      You used to be able to do a google search on a phone number and get something worthwhile.

      Recently, all you get are pages of listings of all the phones in the prefix, noting how much information you could get if you paid for this web site's most wonderful service.
      ClarenceD