Last week, Google announced a significant change to the way it determines search results. The change is supposed to place more value on sites with original content over sites that aggregate content or repost from other places. Google claims that this change will impact about 12 percent of searches.
Google frequently makes changes to its algorithm (the mathematical formula that Google uses to determine search result order), but these are usually small tweaks that only impact a few websites.
Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts explain in a blog post on the change,
“We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.”
While it’s understandable that Google wants to improve its results, this change isn’t without controversy. Many website owners rely on traffic from Google’s search engine, and these changes can make it very difficult for them to maintain their business model.
Most of the sites that are seeing a decrease in traffic are “content farms” or aggregator sites. These sites pull content from across the web and house it in one place. Many of these “content farms” display content on a particular subject and provide a real value to the online community (ex. Techmeme). These sites often have their own algorithm for determining which content to place on their sites. Google may see these sites as competition since they often replace the need for a traditional search for the latest news or content.
Beneficial for Content Creators
Ultimately, this change is a good thing for companies that invest in quality content creation, because Google is placing greater value on that content. This also means that it is important to regularly produce quality content. For companies that have a unique expertise, Google is helping you out because you are now an even more important part of the “healthy web ecosystem” that Google seeks to promote.
This won’t drastically change the way in which you optimize you web content, but it does mean that you should focus on providing more original content if you want to rank well in Google.