Google last night announced a major update to its search algorithm that aims to remove low-quality sites from search results and improve the rankings for high-quality sites.
But notorious content farm Demand Media — who some think that Google was specifically targeting with its update — seems unfazed by the news. The site is best known for churning out tons of content aimed specifically at search engines — hence the term content farm.
Google says its algorithm improvement “noticeably impacts 11.8 percent” of queries. It describes low-quality sites as those “which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.” Those sites’ rankings will go down, while high-quality sites that feature “original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, [and] thoughtful analysis” will rise.
In a blog post, Demand’s EVP of media and operations Larry Fitzgibbon seemed overly understanding of Google’s need to improve the consumer searching experience. “We have built our business by focusing on creating the useful and original content that meets the specific needs of today’s consumer,” he said. “So naturally we applaud changes search engines make to improve the consumer experience – it’s both the right thing to do and our focus as well.”
Fitzgibbon went on to say that Demand’s content library saw some ups and downs following Google’s algorithm change. “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 said.
In its first earnings call as a public company, Demand’s chief executive Richard Rosenblatt defended the company’s reputation. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t consider the site a content farm.
Google says that it isn’t relying on feedback from the new Personal Blocklist Chrome extension for the algorithm changes. But in a comparison between the Blocklist data and the sites flagged by the new algorithm, Google found that the algorithm change addresses 84 percent of the most-blocked domains by users of the extension. That’s a big confirmation that the algorithm changes will be mostly beneficial to users, even though some companies may be hurt in the process.