In an attempt to make first page search results more useful for search users, Google today announced that they have implemented their new “content farm algorithm” which attempts to eliminate websites from Google search when they copy content, rewrite original stories and otherwise use already created content and “blackhat practices” to build pageviews.
The new algorithm was explained by Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts in a blog post in which they said it will affect 11.8% of U.S. search results and “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.”
They go on to add:
“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.”
The news is bad for sites that rewrite content and gets even worse for Demand Media with a co-worker of Matt Cutts stating that “there’s a department full of Ph.Ds at Google that exists for the sole purpose of getting Demand Media out of the search results.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Demand Media they implement content farming by employing thousands of freelance writers and editors who write articles based on the company’s own technology which determines which keywords will earn the most money and then using SEO practices on top sites to place their articles for maximum exposure.
I may be the only blogger to make the assertion that what Demand Media does is completely different than some guy copying or rewriting content in their basements. Articles go through editorial review using strict guidelines provided by DemandStudios.com, for example, users can’t quote about.com articles and various other websites of often low quality content are also banned, instead writers must rely on more trusted sources such as the MayoClinic, print sources and other trusted professional knowledge based sources. Articles are spell checked, multiple sources are required for each article and many articles appear on top sites such as USAToday.com. Sure $15 for a 300 word article doesn’t sound great, but when like me you can finish 2 articles per hour it’s not a bad way to supplement your income.
In the blog post Cutts and Singhal state:
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.
The post goes on to state that many sites will be affected as is the case with any Google algorithm changes so it will be interesting to see how traffic results are affected and what sites they wreak havoc on.
It should also be noted that the recently released Personal Blocklist Chrome extension has no affect on current site ranking, however those human reported sites were compared against the computer based algorithm and Google is said to be very pleased with the results they have seen so far.
With Microsoft Bing breathing down Google’s neck, it’s nice to see them taking spam so serious, of course Bing will just end up copying their new results soon.