SiliconFilter

Better Search Results for All: Google’s Panda Update Goes Global

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In its efforts to preserve the quality of its search results, Google rolled out the so-called Panda and Panda 2.0 update to its algorithm for searches in English earlier this year. Until now, however, these changes didn’t impact searchers outside of the English-speaking world. That’s changing today, however. Earlier this morning, Google announced that it has now brought its “algorithmic search improvements” to all other languages, with the exception of Chines, Japanese and Korean.

Impact: 6-9% of All Searches

According to Google, these changes will impact about 6-9% of all queries to the degree that users will notice the difference. The earlier Panda update for English queries was decidedly more aggressive, as it affected a good 12% of all searches.

While Google doesn’t explicitly say so, the originally Panda update was – for a large part – motivated by the proliferation of content farms that pollute search results with low-quality content written by badly paid freelancers. Indeed, companies like Demand Media were strongly affected by this change and lost a good amount of traffic because of it.

The content spam problem isn’t quite as bad in the rest of the world. It looks like Google clearly felt that the Panda update improved search algorithm worked well enough in other languages as well to roll it out globally.

Image credit: Flickr user Stéfan



4:07 pm


Google Now Lets You Block Sites You Don't Like Directly from Your Search Results

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A few weeks ago, Google introduced a Chrome plugin that allowed you to block sites you didn’t want to see in your results pages. Now, the search giant is taking this concept a step further and allows anybody to block sites right from the search results page. There is a slight twist to this, though. The link to the block feature will only appear after you have visited a site. So if you want to block a site that you deem to be offensive or of low quality, you first have to visit it before you can block it.

block sites

The link for blocking a site will appear underneath the search result, next to the options to see a cached version of a page and to see similar results. A new option to manage blocked sites (with the ability to unblock them) will now appear on your Google settings page.

According to Google, the company is “adding this feature because we believe giving you control over the results you find will provide an even more personalized and enjoyable experience on Google.” Google has, of course, been under a lot of criticism lately as its search results have become increasingly diluted by spam sites and results from content farms that try to game the company’s algorithms to rank as high as possible in Google’s index.

For now, Google is not using this new blocking feature as a signal in ranking sites, but is keeping to option to do this in the future open.

This new feature is rolling out on Google.com today and tomorrow. Google plans to make this feature available in other regions and languages in the future.



12:31 pm


Death to Content Farms: Google Tweaks Algorithm to Find More "High-Quality Sites"

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Google today made a major change to its search algorithm that will affect almost 12% of all queries. According to a blog post written by the company’s Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts, this change is meant to highlight high-quality sites and push down “sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.” While Google doesn’t mention content farms by name, there can be little doubt that this update is directly aimed at them and scraper sites that just copy content.

According to Google, this update doesn’t take any data from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension into account, yet. The update does track well with the top blocked sites by Google’s users, though. Indeed, Google says the update addresses 84% of them, though it didn’t go into any details as to which sites specifically would be affected.  For now, this change is only in effect in the U.S. (where the content farm problem is most prevalent), but Google plans to roll this change out  “elsewhere over time.”

The SEO community is, of course, already discussing these updates, though given how recent these changes are, a lot of the discussion is based more on speculation than fact at this point. A number of publishers are already complaining that their sites’ ranking have been reduced drastically thanks to this update.

Overall, it’s hard to asses the extend of this update yet, but if Google is correct, then this update will hopefully mean that good content will once again be rewarded on Google and the so-called content farms can soon close up shop.

For a more in-depth look at how this change came about, also take a look at Danny Sullivan’s excellent post on Search Engine Land.

Image credit: pawpaw67



10:31 pm