Why did Google update the ranking algorithm?
After Google’s Caffeine ranking algorithm update in 2009, Google received a lot of fresh content. The “gibberish” spam content that could be found in Google’s results before vanished. Unfortunately, a new kind of low quality content appeared in the results.
According to Matt Cutts, “[the new shallow content was like:] what’s the bare minimum that I can do that’s not spam?” Google does not want to see shallow content in the search results.
How does Google recognize a shallow-content site?
Amit Singhal said that Google hasn’t solved the problem yet. Google came up with a variety of questions to judge the quality of a site:
“Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card? Would you be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids? Do you consider this site to be authoritative? Would it be okay if this was in a magazine? Does this site have excessive ads?”
Based on these questions and more, Google tried to form a definition of low quality. Then they tried to put this in an algorithm.
“We actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side. […]
In a hyperspace a bunch of points, some points are red, some points are green, and in others there’s some mixture. Your job is to find a plane which says that most things on this side of the place are red, and most of the things on that side of the plane are the opposite of red.”
Which sites were hit most by the update?
So-called content-farms were hit by the update. Google’s Matt Cutts names Suite101.com. The rankings of that website have dropped drastically and the keyword traffic is down 94% for that site.
In addition to Suite101.com, many other sites have been hit by the algorithm update:
“Our classifier that we built this time does a very good job of finding low-quality sites. It was more cautious with mixed-quality sites, because caution is important. […]
When people come to Google, that’s exactly what they’re asking for ? our editorial judgment. They’re expressed via algorithms.”
Google claims that money does not impact algorithm decisions:
Some people think that Google changes the algorithm to earn more with Google AdWords ads. According to Amit Singhal, money does not impact their decisions.