Google just changed its search algorithm and effectively declared war on Content Farms like Demand Media.
In a blog post, Google search engineers Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts write that the update, which will effect a whopping 11.8% of all search results, “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.”
Google does not mention any specific domains in the blog post, but we can confirm that Demand Media and other “content farms” are a target of the adjustment.
A person who works with Cutts recently told us “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.”
We imagine this will deal a blow to Demand, which depends on Google both for its traffic and for its ads.
Demand makes much of its money by…
1. Figuring out which search results pages are the most expensive for search advertisers to put keywords on.
2. Hiring a freelancer to create content that relates to those search results pages.
3. Putting that content on good domains and SEO-ing the hell out of it.
4. Selling Google ads next to that content.
5. Doing this on a massive scale.
It’s Google arbitrage.
We’ve reached out to Demand Media for comment. UPDATE: Demand says the algorithm change hasn’t hurt it at all.
Google is making this change because search is 95%+ of its business, and Microsoft Bing is more of a competitor than ever. Cutts and company are obsessed with having spam-free search results.
Finding more high-quality sites in search
Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.
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.
It’s worth noting that this update does not rely on the feedback we’ve received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which we launched last week. However, we did compare the Blocklist data we gathered with the sites identified by our algorithm, and we were very pleased that the preferences our users expressed by using the extension are well represented. If you take the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension, then this algorithmic change addresses 84% of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the user benefits.
So, we’re very excited about this new ranking improvement because we believe it’s a big step in the right direction of helping people find ever higher quality in our results. We’ve been tackling these issues for more than a year, and working on this specific change for the past few months. And we’re working on many more updates that we believe will substantially improve the quality of the pages in our results.
To start with, we’re launching this change in the U.S. only; we plan to roll it out elsewhere over time. We’ll keep you posted as we roll this and other changes out, and as always please keep giving us feedback about the quality of our results because it really helps us to improve Google Search.
Posted by Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer
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