Google's recent algorithm tweaks impacted nearly 12% of the search engine's queries. It was a "big algorithmic improvement to our ranking," wrote Google's search quality leader Matt Cutts, designed to "reduce rankings for low-quality sites," which have become known as "content farms."
The change—just a week old—is impacting content mega-farm culprits like Yahoo in some surprising ways. According to Yahoo Contributor Network VP Luke Beatty, Google's adjusted "black box," as the algorithm is often referred to, has already had a huge effect on the service—though not all negative. "We're seeing about a third of our content pushed up and two-thirds of our content pushed down," Beatty said at the paidContent 2011 conference.
Yahoo Answers, he continued, has definitely seen traffic rise, but on the whole, "crowdsourced content is probably in flux, with some up, some down."
This ebb and flow of traffic is similar to what has been seen from Demand Media's properties. According to a report by SEO consultancy Sistrix, some sites, including Answerbag.com and Trails.com, saw significant damage done to their rankings. On the other hand, properties such as eHow.com actually saw its rankings improve.
When announcing the changes recently, Matt Cutts wrote that Google's algorithm "requires constant tuning," especially as "new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time."
But that doesn't mean continued tweaking and fine-tuning will improve the system. "People will figure out how to game the black box," said Yahoo's Beatty," and the black box will change."
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