Google's search quality police cracked down on content farms and other low-quality Websites with an algorithm change that impacts 12 percent of the company's search results.
Google Feb. 24 said it had flipped the switch on an
algorithm change that pushes down low-quality Websites in its search engine,
the latest in a series of moves to combat the rise of content farms and other
Websites that infest the Web.
The ranking change, targeted at Websites that copy
content from other Websites and those that provide little value for searchers,
will impact 12 percent of the company's search results, said Google Fellow
Amit Singhal and his lieutenant, Google principal engineer Matt Cutts.
Google didn't mention content farms by name, but Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan posited
the search engine could well be targeting sites such as Demand Media's
eHow, which produces both solid content and low-quality content.
Demand Media responded to Google's change rather diplomatically in a blog post
, noting that it hadn't seen any material net impact to its content
While the weak Websites will see their rankings drop,
Singhal and Cutts said high-quality sites, or those with original content and
information such as research, in-depth reports and analysis, should see better
The algorithm change currently impacts Google results
shown only in the United States, though the company will eventually push it out in Google
search in other countries.
The change comes 10 days after Google launched
its Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which lets people block
Websites from their Web search results on Google.com. It's a sort of
crowd-sourced approach to boosting search quality.
While the extension feeds Google information about
blocked Websites Google may use as ranking signal, Singhal and Cutts said that
the algorithm change did not leverage feedback from this tool.
But Google did compare the Blocklist data with the sites
identified by its algorithm, and found that the preferences 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 percent of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the
Singhal and Cutts said
To wit, Google believes the algorithm change represents
big search quality improvement, which couldn't come at a better time given the
flak Cutts and his search quality colleagues have faced in recent months.
Cutts Feb. 1defended Google's search quality during a Microsoft Bing-sponsored search event,
where he countered concerns about Google.com's search engine by accusing
of copying Google search results.
Cutts then revealed
Feb. 12 that Google had to crack down on J.C. Penny after its SEO firm
gamed Google to get top billing in dozens of popular product searches. Google
a similar move against Overstock.com earlier this week.