Google Algorithm Change: The winners and losers

2 03 2011

Not much going on today so I’m just going to repost this article from Search Engine Journal and leave it at that:

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 thingsto 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, Business.com, and FAQs.org. 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 Buzzle.com, BizRate, Shopping.com, Squidoo, and Hub Pages to the list.

More after the jump

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.

from Search Engine Journal by Rob Young.

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