Google, under fire these last several weeks for allowing webmasters, marketers, and spammers manipulate its search engine, recently made changes to the way it ranks search results.
The move, announced and detailed in a blog post Thursday at the official Google blog, signified an effort by the company to push down low-quality websites and pages that appear on its search engine results pages (SERPs), while rewarding sites with original, high-quality content and information as well as “in-depth reports” and “thoughtful” analyses.
“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,” wrote Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer. “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.”
The change in ranking algorithms also supports the earlier release of a new Google Chrome Web browser extension that lets Chrome users manually block specific sites from appearing in their search results.
While the blog post did not specifically mention the kinds of sites that Google will push down, industry observers believe that Google has adjusted its algorithms to take on “content farms”, defined in Wikipedia as companies “that employ large numbers of writers to generate large amounts of textual content specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines.” The aim of these content farms – one example of which is – is to drive traffic and sell goods, services, or ad impressions, never mind that the content is disposable, poorly written, and offers no real value to Web users.
The announcement also implies an admission from Google that its search engine has been having its share of problems with relevancy. Sixty-six percent – or two-thirds – of all search queries on the Internet are made using Google, but both Web users and critics alike have increasingly complained about irrelevant sites and pages cluttering up the Google search results. A number of these sites are considered “irrelevant” because they offer just enough content to appear in search results and lead users to Web pages filled with advertisements and spam.
The search engine giant has also faced a number of investigations by the government and regulators, both here in the US and in Europe.