Is This Google Algorithm Change About Content Farms or Not?

Google Aims at Sites With Little Original Content

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Google has launched a change in its algorithm, following a post a week ago from Matt Cutts talking about the search engine’s approach to spam and content farms. However, it is still unclear whether this new update is the related to the "content farm" side of things.

Matt Cutts wrote a post on his personal blog about the update, which he says pertains to "one thing" he mentioned in the original post. Cutts writes:

My post mentioned that "we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content." That change was approved at our weekly quality launch meeting last Thursday and launched earlier this week.

This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content. (emphasis added)

As far as I can tell, it would appear that the "one thing" Cutts is referring to with this new update, is when he said in the previous post, "We’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content."

In that first post, Cutts acknowledged that "pure webspam" has decreased over time, which to me sounds like a good reason that this new update would only impact "slightly over 2%" of queries. 

Though comments from Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt seem to lump "content farms" into this area, the original post from Cutts appears to reference content farms as a separate issue, and one which the company intends to put more focus on. Content farms, as defined by Cutts, are "sites with shallow or low-quality content."  Read more on this here, where I pointed out that everyone thinks of Demand Media when they think of content farm, so it would make little sense to use this terminology if it didn’t include this kind of content – see below:

Content Farm Usually turns up where Demand Media does

Cutts says that with the new update, "less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice." That doesn’t sound like something that will affect the content farms described in the original post, where he said, "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."

Reports out there seem to be rolling this all into one thing, but that’s not how I’m reading it. As there seems to be confusion, as indicated by Rosenblatt’s comments, I’ve asked Cutts to clarify, and will update when he responds.

The words "content farm" do not appear in the new post.

Is This Google Algorithm Change About Content Farms or Not?
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  • http://www.feelfree.co Guest

    Chris could you please write an article about Autobloging. I had a big fight with a guy that was trying to sell autoblogging e-book to me and how much people are making from it.

  • Che

    Matt Cutts should be fired. I have lost all trust in that man. He has no common sense. With every silly of his moves, he makes Google more useless and irrelevant. With this latest algo. change still spam is at the top and original content nowhere to be found. He will never get rid of duplicate content without cutting the head off of original and legit sites. They will never be able to know what content is original or not, which content is the chicken or the egg NEVER. They should stick to indexing, not messing up search with these silly strategies. No wonder people are increasingly using other search engines.

    “people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content.”

    Who are these people? Aunt frida looking for her favorite chicken recipe or a bunch of Adsense, webmasters complaining about not getting decent traffic, at google forums?

    • Chris Crum

      Matt’s given webmasters a lot of useful information over the years, and I would not got that far.

  • http://www.whoisbid.com whoisbid

    There are a ton of new websites which want to compete with older ones. Are people’s assumptions based on changes in rank for older more established websites that have gained authority? Surely Google is looking into better ways to establish authority more quickly for newbie sites. I imagine that the social network factor is being considered as part of this strategy.
    Are we talking about old websites or brand new ones that just started?

  • http://www.bluelightit.com Amir

    Looks like Che (2nd comment) got hurt by the algo change. I don’t understand the people who spend time on duplicating, spinning etc content. It is so much easier to write original useless content and post it to spam sites. The keyword here being ORIGINAL. Your article could still ‘not make sense’ to humans, as is the case with 98% of the articles on spam sites. But at least you have original, copyscape content. Think about it.

    • http://www.seismik.co.uk Guest

      I agree with Amir RE Che (2nd Comment). Che of course they could get rid of this over time using algo changes?! to say never is extremely short sighted. Just off the top of my head it all it would take is to match dates of first crawl of multiple versions against author dates on articles as well (ie server stamp dates). That way the original would 75% sure, that just with 5 mins common sense and these guys are thinking about this constantly with experts so Im sure they are more than on top of it!

      • http://www.prestoreviews.com Scott

        I’m not supporting or refuting what Che said, but inside of the comments one should realize that Che asked the right question-“Who are these people?” It’s ok for anyone to ask if they use Google, but for those who listen (at Google) I would say that Che is right to “weigh” their agenda before thinking there is a groundswell over one opinion or the other.

  • http://www.seoppcad.com/ Robin Ong

    Do you guys think that Google will ban Demand Media with the former’s new algorithm. Google would do better by taking a direct stake in Demand Media…now that is business.

    • Chris Crum

      I can’t imagine the controversy that would surround that move.

  • http://www.the-system.org The System

    Traditional SEO died in or around 2004! I had a site at no 1 on Google for a few months for the keyword car insurance. I achieved this out of buying links. I overcooked it when I bought links from a content farm of web blogs that i won’t mention. This got me banned.

    Around that time the so called multi billion dolar SEO industry was born built around the sole basis of buying links for their clients. All the top rankings for car insurance that exist now were achieved by big companies buying links primarily from ‘Content Farms’. Content Farms have been fuelling the whole so called ‘SEO’ link buying google cheating industry scandal that Google has lost control of!

    I decided to get back up to the top by using universal search content which google asked us to do, distribution and syndication – and guess what i worked. Mine is the only site at the top of google for lots of car insurance keywords that hasn’t bought links, we created ours with quality content, and was only helped by the algo changes! Marketing is syndication which is duplicate content.

    The change was probably just a canonical measure of the originality of the document on a first seen basis. Sure hasn’t affected my ‘duplicate content’! The point here is the real problem not the content, but is ‘paid links’ and how the big boys bully the SERPS! Please do an article on this subject soon Chris

  • http://bb.il.pikeco.homeip.net Guest

    Matt Cutts needs to get a clue. His wild and vague ramblings serve no useful purpose. He needs to stop and take a deep breath. They should go back to simply indexing the web. All of this fancy algorithm manipulation and behind the scenes strategies do nothing to help the individual looking for content. It seems like a power trip to me. And who put them in charge anyway?

  • Claudia

    I do not understand about this, I just understand that google is the big companies that are looking for new employees for his new project

  • http://www.24h-bag.com ??????????

    That sound seems good, I’ve also written the articles myself. It also upset me if I search around SERP (Search Engine Result Page) and found a lot of my original content have been copied without permission.
    Really appreciated with this news.
    Uphichet U

  • Content Farmer

    Google should indeed just stick to indexing. It makes no sense to try and ban content farmers. I do a lot of autoblogging & make no use of linkbuilding (Which is SEO 1.0 and used to work back in 2003). Trust me when I say that these actions proposed by google are in fact more likely to help me than to stall me. Even to the extent where google will accidentally will see my sites as the “original” and the source as duplicate.

    There is no way that Google can fight this.

    • Guest

      You are sheep, being led to slaughter.

      Time to apply at burger king huh?! lmao@u

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