Feb. 25, 2011 at 11:07 AM ET
It's frustrating when every Google search suddenly seems to bring back lousy and useless results, but soon you might be experiencing irritating moments like that far less.
That happy news is the result of what could be considered Google's declaration of war on lousy, low-quality websites.
On its blog, the search engine giant explained that it found it necessary to make some major changes to its algorithm — the magical pile of code that does all the search magic behind the scenes — in order to better serve its customers and prevent spam from ruling search results:
Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking — a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries — and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.
What does this mean to you, in plain words? It means that you should start seeing far fewer search results which include links to "content farms" — sites practically bordering on spam that are specifically tailored to attract Google searches — and more links to what Google considers high-quality sites.
TechCrunch's Michael Arrington estimates that the fact that 11.8 percent of Google search queries will be affected means that it is very likely that there'll even be changes in the top two and three results for many queries.
We'll see whether this change is really so noticeable and genuinely makes a difference soon, but according to a report by Business Insider, we might not want to get too excited just yet:
Demand Media, the world's largest low-cost content producer, has responded to the massive algorithm change Google just made. Basically, Demand says the change hasn't hurt its business at all.
It is worth noting that Google has just started rolling out its algorithm changes — and that it's currently only rolling them out in the United States — so it could be that Demand Media is speaking a bit too soon. After all, Google has made it a point to tweak its algorithm as much as necessary in order to take down lousy retailers and content providers in the past. So we doubt that the search engine will ease up on this whole battle any time soon.
No matter what the case is though, we're glad to see that Google is making efforts to provide more relevant search results and staying on our side in the fight against useless spam.