Google April 11 took its so-called Panda search algorithm upgrade global to emphasize high-quality Websites over lower-quality destinations, and added signals based on user feedback to improve results.
Google has been taking a lot of flak for surfacing too many spammy, irrelevant results, particularly from content farms that exist as traffic bait and offer little value.
To alleviate users’ concerns, the search engine in February rolled out the algorithm tweak only in the U.S., targeting Websites that copy content from other Websites and those that provide little value for searchers.
The chief target was content farms, ideally targeting sites such as Demand Media’s eHow, which produces both solid content and low-quality content.
Over a month into the change, Google Fellow Amit Singhal, who heads the company’s search efforts, said searchers are finding better results and many publishers are getting more traffic. High-quality sites, or those with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports and analysis, are seeing improved rankings.
Satisfied with the results, Singhal and his team not only turned on the Panda upgrade for all English-language Google users, but added new user feedback signals to help people find better search results.
For example, Google is beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into its algorithms.
To get this data, Google built a Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which lets people block Websites from their Web search results on Google.com, and added a tool directly on Google.com to hide results for future searches.
Google also said it is ferreting out the “long tail” of low-quality Websites to return higher-quality results.
However, the company said these new signals affect only about 2 percent of U.S. queries, compared with almost 12 percent of U.S. queries for the first wave of Panda change.
“Based on our testing, we’ve found the algorithm is very accurate at detecting site quality,” Singhal explained in a blog post. “If you believe your site is high-quality and has been impacted by this change, we encourage you to evaluate the different aspects of your site extensively.”
Google will expand to additional languages, once it has assessed how its new changes fare. Search Engine Land goes through the changes with a fine-tooth comb.