Google Tweaks Algorithm to Push Down Low-Quality Sites

NY Times, 2/25/11

Google said late Thursday that it had made a major change to its algorithm in an effort to improve the rankings of high-quality Web sites in its search results — and to reduce the visibility of low-quality sites. While the company did not say so explicitly, the change appears to be directed in part at so-called content farms like eHow and Answerbag, which generate articles based on popular search queries so they will rise to the top of the rankings and attract clicks.

Google has been facing criticism from some users for allowing articles that aren’t useful to appear prominently in search results. That has now changed, according to the company.

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other Web sites or sites that are just not very useful,” Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, and Matt Cutts, who leads Google’s spam-fighting team, wrote in a company blog post. “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.”

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