It looks like Google outdid itself this time. Google announced that they released an update to combat spam by changing their algorithm to detect if a website is a "content farm". A content farm would be a website that releases a lot of content that is identical to content already out there (duplicate content), or slightly changed. It's also a bunch of duplicate content put together to make the content look original in nature. One such site that comes to mind is eHow, which is owned by Demand Media. These guys literally have thousands of writers take other people's content and simply rewrite it into their own words. Google claims these kids of sites fill their result pages with useless junk, and many of their users are complaining.
Many people are also saying that this is targeting Made for Adsense (MFA) sites, since they are usually spam sites that are made to get people from search engines to come to the site and click on the ad. I guess it's relatively safe to say that most content farm sites are designed to make money from Adsense or other types of PPC advertising.
So here's the thing... this algorithm gets changed all of the time, so much so that usually there is no announcement about it, and usually no one gets in a stink about it. However, this one is affecting nearly 12% (11.8% per Google) of all search results. So here is how it works:
Let's say for example the popular article submission site ArticlesBase. Let's say you submitted articles here, and included a link for a link back to your site. After this update from Google, they now determine that ArticlesBase is a content farm and their website is no longer authority, and is now borderline "spam". Once this filter goes into effect, every article you submitted before in the past now doesn't pass as much, or any, link juice PR to your site. Any SERP ranking your site had in the past from ArticlesBase is now gone or severly diminished. If you have an eCommerce site, and released a bunch of articles of products you sell, you can expect that likely your sales will drop off and those pages will now rank lower in Google as well. Bummer huh?
This update is so big, even CNN has released a story about it. Webmaster Forums are blowing up with anger over this update, and I don't blame them one bit. Instead of releasing an algorithm to combat this, Google needs to use their own data and do manual filters.
They have analytics data, adsense data, bounce rate data, SERP data, CTR data and more that they can use to determine this more efficiently. There is even an extension for Google Chrome that lets you submit spam sites. However, Google claims this update didn't take that info effect.
If your site is one of those currently affected, take a breather. I know it's easier said than done, but sit back, relax, and give the update a few days to settle. Google is notorious for releasing overly critical updates that settle over the next few days or few weeks, and loosens their filters.
Here is data from various sources on the top 10 sites that actually gained from this update:
Here are the top 10 losers:
Has your site been affected by this update? Many people who have original content and all white hat SEO are saying they are going to get together and do mass reinclusion requests to Google for manual reviews of their site. If you do this, please update us and let us know how it goes.