Google’s Algorithm Change: The Losers and Winners

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The air is heavy with hatred of spam as analysts rail against current search indexing tactics, a spam clock having been launched to decry the heavy amount of trash being generated, and some people even burning things to show their rage. While Google hasn’t necessarily joined this bandwagon, they have acknowledged the problems and have started implementing solutions. The two major elements introduced thus far have been a Chrome extension that will get user feedback on which sites are spam, and an update to the search algorithm designed to demote low-quality content.

There’s little doubt that Google’s change has altered the construction of the search engine pages, but figures vary somewhat on who actually winds up missing out and who gets closer to that coveted number one position. One of the more comprehensive evaluations of loss happens at Sistrix, where an advanced “visibility index” calculates the value of search terms based on their traffic, the click through rate on specific positions on the SERP, and more. According to that index, our top losers include eZine Articles, Suite101, Associated Content, Free Downloads Center, Essortment, American Towns, Article Base, Find Articles,, and All of those sites received more than a 90% visibility loss, according to the Sistrix index. Other analysts agree with at least several of these top items, but add, BizRate,, Squidoo, and Hub Pages to the list.

We can see a fairly strong trend on who’s losing position here: article sites, user-created pages, download aggregators, shopping sites, and similar all wind up in pain. But who (besides those who had been shoved off the top page by those sites) wins here?

More search visibility is being given to sites like eBay, Facebook, Amazon, NexTag, Instructables, Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, Walmart, YouTube, and (surprisingly enough) eHow. This list is fairly controversial because it seems to support giant sites at the expense of user-generated content elsewhere. The need for higher visibility on some of these massive page collections was clear (for example, Facebook and eBay both essentially swallowed their user-generated items completely), but it’s quite evident that the groups benefiting is comprised of those that are already large and well-established.

Ironically, these “winning” sites are in many ways similar to the sites being penalized, and there isn’t a really clear way of stating how they’re actually different. Most of note, eHow, which has been used as an example of a content farm by many (with some dispute on that point, including from myself) has not only not been penalized, it’s been rewarded. Google, it seems, still has some fine-tuning to do.

[via Search Engine Land]

Rob D Young
Rob has been insatiably obsessed with Google, search engine technology, and the trends of the web-based world since he began life as a webmaster in 2002. His work as an SEO consultant since 2006, and subsequently to content writing for technology and internet-focused publications, has done nothing but fuel this passion.
Rob D Young

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  • Thank You Google

    Great Article and I wanted to add Thank you GOOGLE for taking care of the the junk that the top content farms on the list that was mentioned was littering the internet with. I think Google is on the right track and for the consumer it is a great thing when you search for a news articles and dont have to worry about getting an article that has been re-written by someone who has keyword stuffed the heck out of it just to get to the top of google. Please keep up the good work…

  • Jay

    The costs to honest, informative websites that provide valuable information, like home improvement sites, for example, far outweigh the benefits of this change. For those of us who use the internet to find information, this is a giant step backward. Some of my favorite sites, which used to come up in the top two, are now lost. Please fix this, Google.

    • wirelessphil

      I wrote, along with hundreds of others and complained the last time they changed things and it does no good.

    • Rob Young

      I disagree – ish. I see this as a “three steps forward, two steps back” situation. Spam is a real problem, and many of the sites targeted were the ones crowding top positions with paper-thin content.

      That said, as I mentioned, there are many – many, many, many – shortcomings. If this were Google’s “last step,” I’d be worried. As it stands, they’ve acknowledged concerns and will work on preventing “collateral damage” while picking up the last of the low-quality content farms on the web.

      What I’m hoping is that these farms aren’t entirely discarded. Most of them generate a lot of great content, while admittedly trapped in the mire of rubbish. The system should evaluate _pages_, not _parents_, to provide the best content. It’s why I disagreed with Blekko’s outright banning, and why I’m not upset that eHow is still showing up on some top results pages; I’ve used eHow to great benefit, if only after struggling my way through the lake of cat vomit that is most eHow entries.

  • Angie Wheeler

    I can say that within my own search habits that Ezine Articles has never produced any useful content for me. On the flip-side, and surprising to even myself, I have come across some useful content from eHow in regards to quick searches about gardening or cooking. The fact that eHow is producing useful content, even if it is not necessarily original, could be what is setting it apart.

    • Rob Young

      I would agree. eHow strikes me as about ~70% spam, while I’d guestimate Ezine at roughly 95%.

  • Daniel

    Can’t wait to see how these changes shake out. That’s the fun part about SEO – it’s ever-evolving. No rest for the weary!

  • wirelessphil

    I noticed this morning here in Ohio, that the Google News page won’t let me sing-in.
    I’m signed into Gmail, so I don’t know what they have done now to mess thinks-up AGAIN!

  • Alan

    I own several article websites and have noticed only increases in traffic and positions. This could well be down to the fact that i only allow unique high quality content on my article sites. In addition i noticed that many of the sites that have been devalued dramatically use a great deal of adverts on their pages, whether banner ads or adsense and the like, whereas a couple of my sites have only a small adsense block on the pages, and seem unaffected.

  • Mabuzi

    There is so much garbage out threre that needs culling. This industry, SEO, is the like the arms industry, requires regulation.
    It reminds me of a storey of some spoilt kids left to their own devices on a shipwrecked island.
    Once again a good article.

  • topcentech

    thanks for this information

  • Ace Bull

    I wouldn’t hate on it too much. Algorithms be damned. One things that’s NEVER changed about Google is – if you have Google content and people want to visit your site, you’ll get up there.

    Field of dreams, anyone? 🙂

  • Wilson

    Google should not give search ranking to the site using contents from others website that has published “the original” contents for the first time.

    Backlinks algorithm also should have already started to be abandoned because a lot of cases of spammers using the contents of other sites and even their articles that appear to the search results in higher position because they are looking for backlinks as much as possible than the original contents. Very ironic

  • Steve Australia

    Content farms as well as most Blogs, only revenue stream is selling advertisements and most use Google AdSense, so the real reason for spamming would have to be Google as they have created a monster that drive sites to spamming and duplicate content of no real value, Google endorse spamming as they rank in favor of sites that use their AdSense.

    If you want to gain in the SERPS just place Google AdSense (NonSence) and your Googles favorite little BITCH.

    Sites with something real to sell other then AdSense (NonSence) get page10.

    A lot of people jumping off the Google ship and are using other engines. Googles response to their crappy algorithm that ranks their own AdSense (NonSence) is to pretend they are taking out the cane, they are not fixing the spam problem they have created, as this is all about money for them and not quality search.

    As long as the Variable $Money is part of Googles algorithm Google will continue to spam the Google search results

    Googles not so secret algorithm

    $Money”== “AdSense”;

    All they have to do is Band any AdSense (NonSence) sites and Google would be the Google I grew to love and not hate, like so many other people do.

    In conclusion the core of most spamming is Google them self’s.