Google search engine had made a major change to its algorithm in an effort to improve the rankings of high-quality Web sites in its search results, and to reduce the visibility of low-quality sites. While the company did not say so explicitly, the change appears to be directed in part at so-called content farms like eHow and Answerbag, which generate articles based on popular search queries so they will rise to the top of the rankings and attract clicks.
Google has been facing criticism from some users for allowing articles that aren’t useful to appear prominently in search results. That has now changed, according to the company.
Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, and Matt Cutts, head of the spam-fighting team, wrote in a company blog post that “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other web sites 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.”
Google search engine has said that it makes about 500 changes to its algorithm a year, but most are so small that the company doesn’t announce them. This one will affect 11.8 percent of search queries, Google said, so it is big enough to significantly change the results that people see.
Google’s announcement did not mention content farms. But Mr. Cutts has spoken in recent weeks about the problem and said Google was working on algorithm changes to fix it. “In general, there are some content farms that I think it would be fair to call spam, in the sense that the quality is so low-quality that people complain,” he said in a recent interview.
Google said the updated algorithm rewards high-quality sites, so the effect will become clear over time. Last week, Google introduced an extension to the Chrome browser that people can use to block certain sites, and said it would study which sites people block to figure out which ones bother users. On Thursday, Google said that it did not use this data to change the algorithm, but that the new algorithm caught 84 percent of the most-blocked Web sites.