Is This Google Algorithm Change About Content Farms or Not?

Chris CrumBusiness

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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.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.