For those of us who spend our time creating content online (as I do) and strive to make that content of the best quality and of value to people, the rise of so-called "content farms" has been an annoying feature of the online landscape: both the networks of sites that simply scrape our content and surround it in ads... and the networks of sites that churn out incredibly large quantities of low-grade content that is optimized for SEO so that their pages can rank highly and get eyeballs to their pages and their ads.
For we who strive to create "high quality" content, the spammers and content farmers were annoying in that Google search results seemed to feature these sites (because they were trying to game Google) when our higher quality was ranked lower.
The good news is that as they threatened earlier, the folks at Google stated that they have changed their ranking algorithm to de-value low quality sites. That is to say... they are aiming to hit the spammers and content farmers at their critical reason for being: search engine result placement.
From Google's blog post, with my own emphasis added:
But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.
We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.
Yet to be seen is exactly what they do and how they tweak the algorithms... there will always be an arms race, I fear, between the search engines like Google and those who want to try to game the system.
Regardless, the move is welcome!
Many articles written about this today... some I liked include:
- SearchEnglineLand: Google Forecloses On Content Farms With “Farmer” Algorithm Update
- GigaOm: Google Tightens the Screws on Content Farmers
- Mashable: Google Declares War on Content Farms
Bring on the changes, Google! We who spend our time striving to create high quality content welcome them.
Image credit: rgs_ on Flickr
UPDATE, Feb 26: There have been a number of articles out there seeking to show the actual impact of this change. One of the best I've seen is this post from SISTRIX that shows the 25 biggest losers according to the research they've done.
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