Google Algorithm Update to Get “New Layer” to Help “Falsely Caught” Sites

    March 2, 2011
    Chris Crum

As we discussed in another article, Google’s recent algorithm update aimed at content farms had some apparently unintended casualties. One of these was the Apple news blog Cult of Mac. Publisher Leander Kahney wrote a scathing post about the update, clearly furious over Google knocking their search rankings (and traffic) down as if they were a content farm. 

News from the publisher, however, indicates that there is hope for some of those wronged by the update. As we reported before, Kahney was talking to Google’s Matt Cutts on Twitter about the issue:


@lkahney the appropriate people at the Googleplex have heard that report, I’m sure. Feel free to snag me at SXSW if you see me though.less than a minute ago via web

@mattcutts awesome. let’s hope someone saw it and fixes it. i’m counting on you guys. tx for message. made my dayless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Later, Kahney tweeted the following:

@mattcutts Good news: CultofMac back to normal on Google today. They fix it @Googlplex, or is the algorithm getting better for everyone?less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Kahney also told Wired, who picked up the story, "The site is miraculously back. Everything looks great. I’m wondering if it was you talking to them, but it was back in the index pretty early this AM." 

For some additional context there, the Wired piece discloses that Kahney was’s managing editor and then news editor, until he left about two years ago to run Cult of Mac full time. This background in legitimate news (as opposed to content farming), coupled with Cult of Mac’s ongoing practice of legitimate news would no doubt be key indications of the site’s authority in search. 

Google’s Amit Singhal told Wired that Google "deeply" cares about the high quality sites, but that Google won’t manually change "anything along these lines."  He continued: "Therefore any time a good site gets a lower ranking or falsely gets caught by our algorithm — and that does happen once in a while even though all of our testing shows this change was very accurate — we make a note of it and go back the next day to work harder to bring it closer to 100 percent…That’s exactly what we are going to do, and our engineers are working as we speak building a new layer on top of this algorithm to make it even more accurate than it is."

There are a lot of site owners out there that feel they have been wronged by Google’s update. Most will tell you that they produce quality content. I guess as Google continues to add "layers" to the update, we’ll see how Google really feels about certain sites. 

Demand Media’s eHow was expected to be devalued with the update, but reports indicate it was actually helped, though several other Demand Media properties were hit. It will be interesting to see if these properties find their way back up into the rankings. 

Mahalo has gone so far as to start reducing its staff over the changes. It will also be interesting to see if Mahalo content finds its way back up, and if so, if those jobs are saved. Look at what EzineArticles is doing to try and get back into Google’s good graces.