Google announced today that it has made a significant change in the algorithm to help high-quality sites rank higher, thus increasing their chances of reaching more people through Google search. Google Fellow Amit Singhal and our very own Matt Cutts mentioned that it is currently being rolled out in the US, and impacts around 11.8% of the queries (which is a pretty big number mind you).
Google also makes it clear that this will affect rankings of many sites out there. And people have already started noticing it. Aaron Wall from SEO Book fame wrote a post talking about probable penalization of Mahalo, a content farm that many people in the search community have raised their voice against in the past.
However, according to Aaron, many content farms still appear to show up just fine. He used the following image in his post to show how the query for “clogged sinus” showed up ehow and others in the result.
It’s important to note that Google primarily talks about scrapers who copy content from others and not content farms that will be impacted by this algorithm change. Danny Sullivan in his detailed blog post mentions what Google says, and argues that this update does in fact target content farms. In his own words..
How can I say the Farmer Update targets content farms when Google specifically declined to confirm that? I’m reading between the lines. Google previously had said it was going after them.
Since Google originally named content farms as something it would target, you’ve had some of the companies that get labeled with that term push back that they are no such thing. Most notable has been Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt, who previously told AllThingsD about Google’s planned algorithm changes to target content farms:
It’s not directed at us in any way.
I understand how that could confuse some people, because of that stupid “content farm” label, which we got tagged with. I don’t know who ever invented it, and who tagged us with it, but that’s not us…We keep getting tagged with “content farm”. It’s just insulting to our writers. We don’t want our writers to feel like they’re part of a “content farm.”
I guess it all comes down to what your definition of a “content farm” is. From Google’s earlier blog post, content farms are places with “shallow or low quality content.”
In that regard, Rosenblatt is right that Demand Media properties like eHow are not necessarily content farms, because they do have some deep and high quality content. However, they clearly also have some shallow and low quality content.
So, chances are that content farms like Demand Media will be impacted sooner or later by this update.
The fact of the matter is that search, after all, is Google’s main business. And it really can’t afford to have it populated with results people are not looking for. This update was long coming and I anticipate many more such big algorithm changes in the course of this year.
What’s your take on this? Let us know in the comments.