Chances are good that you or someone you know has seen some ranking changes today as Google rolled out a new algorithmic update. With the recent announcements aimed at "low quality sites" (many interpret this to mean content farms), even less than two weeks ago, Google stated they were exploring different new methods to detect spam.
"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," Google announced last night.
No one can say this one came out of left field. Google launched an algorithm tweak in January to combat spam and scraper sites, though that affected a much smaller number of sites.
This IS a big one. We're talking 11.8% across the board. Now, the big question is did they do it right?
From the looks of it, Google is not simply devaluing sites serving duplicated content, they are going after sites here with specific types of backlinks, spying through Chrome extensions, and this is only within the first 24 hours! More will become clear once site owners see drastic changes in their traffic stats.
As with every major Google update, SEO forums are dedicating a thread to this and they are filling up fast with reactions and reports. Since BackLinkForum.com tends to have the skilled gray/blackhat crowd, and because this update is only happening in the U.S. (for now), BLF is a great place to see what is really happening down in the trenches.
Two possible things happening there worth noting:
- Sites with the majority of their backlink profiles consisting of profile links could be a target.
- Not every content farm was red flagged. This may have been a response to the scraper update along with bigger content farm sites. Similar to the recent Blekko update.
Although coming to a conclusion about the update within 24 hours is extremely risky, I would be willing to bet that this is targeting self-service linking as much as content farms.
However, sites like eHow, Answers.com, and even low-level scraper sites still seem to be saturating the SERPs. That leaves me asking, "Who was penalized then?"
As with any Google algorithm changes, some innocent sites are going to be slammed. Some SEOs have reported seeing 40 percent traffic drops to their sites.
This latest update may just more evidence that Google simply can't distinguish between "good" or "bad" content.
Let us know what you're seeing today -- the good, bad, and disastrous.