Google’s new method to reduce spam in search results kicked in on Wednesday, and some Web sites are complaining that their traffic has dropped off a cliff — even though they publish what they consider to be useful and original content.
Users and investors have been complaining that Google search results are being polluted with too many sites that don’t produce anything original, but simply scrape headlines and the first few words of articles posted elsewhere. These content farms are littered with Google AdWords ads, and hope that users will click ads as they fly by.
So Google’s anti-spam head Matt Cutts announced plans to crack down on content farms a couple weeks ago, and this morning he confirmed on his personal blog that the changes have taken effect. He claims that less than 0.5% of Web sites should see their rankings affected.
Still, some Web sites are complaining that the algorithm has incorrectly identified their sites as spam. One person on the Webmaster World forums claims that his game information site, which contains all original content and is updated regularly, moved from a top five result to somewhere in the mid-20s — well behind other sites that are obvious link farms.
Google famously refuses to disclose how its algorithm works — that would both help the competition and make it way easier for spammers to trick it — so Web sites have no recourse except to figure out how the new algorithms are working and change their sites accordingly.