Google Update Seeks to Reward Higher Quality Content
In a statement on the company blog posted yesterday, Google said it has tweaked its algorithm to push good content higher in its search rankings—which may affect the business model of "content farms" such as Demand Media, Associated Content and Suite 101.
"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," the statement, authored by Google's Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts, reads. "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."
Singhal and Cutts claim the new algorithm impacts up to 11.8 percent of Google's search rankings. Demand Media, the best-known of a recent crop of companies which pay vast armies of freelancers a few dollars per story (or, in the case of Suite 101, per ad click) to produce content tailored to SEO, issued a statement in response saying it expected its relationship with Google to continue to be mutually beneficial.
Attention has focused on Demand Media in the wake of the announcement due to the company's recent IPO filing. A day after the announcement, Demand Media had seen a 5 percent drop in its Nasdaq share price to $21.50, down from a high of $23.38 earlier in the week (the stock debuted at $17 Jan. 26).
In a statement posted in response to the announced changes, Demand Media's EVP of of Media and Operations Larry Fitzgibbon said the immediate impact on the company's content has been mixed, with some articles moving up and others down. "It's impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term—but at this point in time, we haven't seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business," he wrote.