Google Aims to Weed Out Low-Quality Websites from Search Results
Google has announced a significant tuneup to its search mechanics that should help boost high-quality, original-content websites over "content farms" that pump out poor online postings.
In a blog post, Google staffers described how honing the search algorithms has affected nearly 12 percent of user queries since the upgrades were rolled out Wednesday (Feb. 23) in the United States.
Google "ranks" websites based on a number of variables, and the better a site's score, the higher up it appears in a user's search result listings. The goal is for the top results to be the most relevant to a user's query, while those appearing on page two, for example, should be less meaty.
So far, Google is pleased with what it sees. "We’re very excited about this new ranking improvement because we believe it’s a big step in the right direction of helping people find ever higher quality in our results," wrote Google Fellow Amit Singhal and principal engineer Matt Cutts in the post.
The move by Google is the latest volley in an ongoing war against content farms. These websites gobble up web traffic — which fuels ad sales and revenue — by generating enormous amounts of mostly useless, sloppy or copy-and-pasted content that is specifically crafted to capture the eyes of search engines .
Last week, Google introduced an extension for its Chrome browser that allows users to block websites of their choice — i.e., content farms — from search results.
In the blog post, Google's staffers noted that they did not design the new algorithmic tweaks based on data from the Chrome extension. But Google did compare those websites that received lower rankings under the new search algorithms with the sites that extension users have axed. Interestingly, the algorithm changes impacted 84 percent of the top dozen or so most-blocked domains.
"We were very pleased that the preferences our users expressed by using the extension are well represented," the Google staffers wrote.
The highest profile company frequently accused of being a content farm, Demand Media, reacted to the Google announcement yesterday.
"As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results," wrote Larry Fitzgibbon, Demand Media's executive vice president of media and operations in a blog. "At this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact."