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It seems Google are really stepping up their efforts to crack down on websites that have low quality content after they announced new algorithmic changes to demote websites of such quality in their SERPs.
What are the changes?
Nearly 12% of Google’s search results in the US will be affected by the change – a bigger impact than most of the algorithm changes in the past. Google are being diplomatic with their carefully worded blog that doesn’t actually specify sites they are targeting, simply the type of content that will bear the brunt.
Top of the list are scraper sites who make a living out of plagiarism. Next up are those who create low quality content and develop unnatural rankings through targeted interlinking. Essentially, content farms.
One company that has come under constant criticism for producing low quality content is Demand Media – owner of several domains including eHow. Their response to these changes was again diplomatic, stating they ‘applaud’ the decision by Google, and have seen their content both rise and fall as a consequence – although I’m sure behind the scenes they’ll be sweating a bit more.
The stance taken by Google has been coming for a while now, with criticism mounting over the quality of their results and the presence of so many low quality sites. Recent niche websites such as Blekko have recognised content farms as a problem for users, and took the decision to start blocking low quality content sites such as eHow [See: Is The Future Bright or Bleak for Blekko?]. Now Google appear to be following in their footsteps.
According to Google they don’t normally make a fuss about algorithm changes, however this time it’s a bit different. Their critics wanted to see a response and Google has duly and overtly delivered.
More so, they are constantly finding themselves one step behind news organisations that are outing large companies and their black hat SEO tactics [See: A Degree of Cheating? Overstock Incentivise University Websites in Return for Links]. So with the heat rising, Google’s latest announcement will ease the pressure somewhat. One way of looking at this is that Google will be keeping those news organisations happy – not being outranked by spammy websites will go along way with organisations producing quality content.
It’s unclear what impact this is going to have – especially as the changes are only going to affect US search results. We won’t get a clear picture until its unleashed worldwide, but for the time being it appears Google are making the right noises and looking to clean up their SERPs.
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