Google used their Official Google Blog to announce a change to their search algorithm that impacts 11.8% of their queries. Google explains:
"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. 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."
Google's announcement is a followup to what Matt Cutts stated in his blog just over a month ago:
"And we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content. We’ll continue to explore ways to reduce spam, including new ways for users to give more explicit feedback about spammy and low-quality sites.
As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content."
Google notes that this update does not utilize the new data they are receiving from the "Personal Data Chrome extension" that they launched just last week. However, they are "very pleased" to report that 84% of the top several dozen domains reported to be blocked by the extension are also impacted by the algorithm change. This could be very bad news for the high profile eHow.com because it is routinely referred to in the media as a site with lots of low quality content. If people are voting via Chrome it's likely they are one of the top domains Google is referring to.
However, our own small batch of test searches at WebProNews does not show any negative changes for eHow. For instance, eHow still ranks number one in Google results for "level four brain cancer", the same as we earlier reported. WebProNews will be further reviewing the impact of this change on eHow and other mass content producers over the next few days. Additionally, Google states in their posting that, "We’re working on many more updates that we believe will substantially improve the quality of the pages in our results".
The message to content producers is clear, publish shallow content that is obviously SEO'd and disliked by users and eventually you won't be rewarded by Google's search engine.