In it’s latest move to keep delivering highly relevant content in its search results, Google announced the newest update to its search algorithm late last week.
At the moment, this algorithm change is only affecting search results in the United States, but the change will be applied to all Google servers over time.
Improving Search Results
Google changes something about its highly confidential algorithm quite regularly. Last year in fact, they made an average of 3 changes to it every 2 days.
This latest set of changes is considered fairly major though, and, according to Matt Cutts and colleague Amit Simghal, will affect nearly 12% of searches made through Google.
“Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them, but, in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking,” they said in a blog post last week.
According to Google, this latest update is part of Google’s ongoing efforts to return better quality search results, and to try and lower the rankings of sites that feature duplicate content, or use unapproved techniques to try and boost their search engine rankings without having the relevance to support them.
The new formula should rank low-quality sites lower, and increase the rankings of high quality websites with original content.
“We do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem,” they explained in the blog post, adding “Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.”
Content Farms & Search Engine Results
After more than a year of working on this particular change to the algorithm, Google hopes to reduce the rate at which so-called content farms, websites that exist solely to hold content (often duplicated) for the purpose of appearing in search engine results, displaying advertisements, or holding links are ranked in the search engine results.
As may be expected, this change has been a popular topic among website owners and search engine optimisers, some of whom are pleased that content farms and similar sites will be penalised, and others accusing Google of unfairly affecting their rankings.
Demand Media, a company that runs several well known sites or article directories, sometimes considered content farms, has already experienced some changes in the way they rank.
Executive VP of operations, Larry Fitzgibbon, said in a blog post that, “As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results. It’s impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term,” he continued. “But, at this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business.”
Constant Updates & Search Engine Optimisation
Search engine optimisation, the process of optimising your site to encourage high search engine result rankings, has become an integral part of the internet with a variety of tactics and techniques, some honest, some not so much.
As a result, there are cases when search engine results contain what could accurately be considered spam, and Google keeps updating its algorithm partly in an attempt to combat this.