Google Changes Algorithm for Low Quality Sites

In an attempt to offer its users better search results, Google has just implemented a significant change to its algorithm. The change will help boost the rankings of what are deemed to be high quality sites, and it will push low quality sites, such as content farms, further down the rankings.

Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, and Matt Cutts, a principal engineer who helps the search engine giant fight spam, announced the algorithmic improvement in a post on Google’s blog. The change’s main goal is to improve relevancy among search results for users. By rewarding high quality sites for their content and punishing low quality sites for their supposed lack of content, users can get more of what they are looking for without having to weed through irrelevant sites. Google considers high quality sites to be those that offer original content, in-depth analysis, research, and more.

Although the blog post did not name any specific websites, it is likely that content farms are its main target. Content farms produce short, low value articles that are created in response to popular search queries. One such site is eHow, which pays freelance writers small fees to produce short articles on a variety of subjects.

Many content farm articles achieved high search engine rankings in the past, but offered little actual value to visitors. Google sees these sites as a form of spam that clutters its results. Other sites, which post unoriginal content and even go as far as to copy content, are also targeted in the algorithm change. It is unknown exactly how long it will take for the ranking changes to actualize, but they should gradually appear.

Prior to officially changing its algorithm, Google announced the release of the Personal Blocklist extension for users of its Chrome browser. The extension allows users to block specific domains from appearing in search results, essentially creating a blacklist of unwanted sites. Personal Blocklist also allows users to provide Google with feedback and opinions on the blocked sites.

Google stated that it did not use the extension’s feedback in making the algorithmic change, but there are some consistencies between the two. Approximately 84 percent of the most unpopular or blocked domains from Personal Blocklist have been negatively impacted since the change, which shows that it has worked in accordance with user opinion.

Algorithmic changes are nothing out of the ordinary for Google. The company tweaks its algorithm several times per year, and many times the changes are not officially announced. The latest change is worthy of an announcement because it affects 11.8 percent of Google’s queries.

As of now, the change has only been implemented in the United States. Google does plan to make it global in the future, however. As time passes, it should be interesting to see how the change affects the Internet landscape. With any luck, the rewards of higher rankings given to quality sites should create an improvement in terms of the overall level of quality of online content.

For more on this topic, visit http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html.

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