Okay when Matt Cutts speaks the search industry listens. So is his recent comment on the Google Webmaster Help Videos a good indication that submitting to article aggregators is no longer a way to build some link juice to your website?
His video title "Where is Google going in the future" suggests Google will soon be downplaying the impact of article sites, along with content farms.
The content farms that are using the Question and Answer method of building pages have proven to be successful financially. Demand Media, AOL's recent moves, eHow, Yahoo Answers, Quora and so on have shown this is a profitable way to game the system. Well game may be a little harsh, but much of the content coming from them seems to be a play for ranking for numerous terms and selling advertising - and in many cases Google advertising - with little concern on the quality.
The quality of the information is what is at question. Users develop sites they use on a regular basis, hence the popularity of Google for search but its difficulty establishing the same dominance in any other area. If web users find some of these content sites a good source of answers then regardless of Google traffic they will stay around. Answer finding apps for mobile devices are one area that can sidestep search.
But how is this Google filtering going to be achieved, as some efforts are building quality content? As Tim Armstrong, AOL's CEO, said last year. "We think about how to create the world's best content and have a deep strategy around that area. The world doesn't need more low quality content."
In most discussions about link building there is mention of posting content to article sites. If Google plans to down play these sites where will people go next?
Matt Cutts notes "As "pure webspam" has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to "content farms," which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content. We take pride in Google search and strive to make each and every search perfect. The fact is that we're not perfect, and combined with users' skyrocketing expectations of Google, these imperfections get magnified in perception. However, we can and should do better."
Interestingly, Dave Winer, contributing developer of RSS and an early blogging adopter, as well as Visiting Scholar at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute blogged the need for "journo-programmers" today. His post calls the web a 'prior art' machine. The news is often started by a prior article on some site that then generates deeper reporting by others. The news aggregators like Reuters and the Associated Press add to the news they find elsewhere and have their own original stories interpreted and built on as well.
Where this will go and how it is done will be worth keeping an eye on. Matt you have your work cut out for you.