Google is constantly fine tuning its algorithms to prevent spam and increase the quality of search results. In most cases, few outside of the search engine marketing industry even notice when Google makes a change. Earlier this week however, Google started rolling out an algorithmic improvement to US users that will have a noticeable impact. This update may prove to be the most significant single update in years. According to Google's recent blog post post 11.8% of queries will be impacted. Some Webmasters are already reporting issues.
"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."
By the way, if you're attending SMX West next week or SES New York in two weeks please be sure to say hello!
Worksheetsengine.com is a two month old domain name owned by an individual in Russia. It has roughly 500,000 pages indexed by Google and a homepage PageRank of 2 despite being entirely duplicate content. According to Compete the site gets 125k unique visitors per month but, I have a feeling these visitors all think they're using Bing.com.
While Google has condemned buying and selling links that pass PageRank, they've encouraged listing in paid directories like Yahoo for years. It seems that era may have come to an end earlier today. The following bullet points have been removed from Google's Webmaster Guidelines Webmaster Help Center*
"Have other relevant sites link to yours."
"Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites."
Does this recent move reflect a renewed emphasis on rooting out paid links passing PageRank and/or low quality links by Google?
*As mentioned, the bullet points above have been removed from the US version of Google's Webmaster Help Center. Other versions may not yet reflect this change.