Google/Demand Media blog wars over algorithm

Faith Merino · February 25, 2011 · Short URL:

Google announces algorithm changes believed to target Demand, and Demand responds

Fresh off the heels of its latest spat with a company found to be gaming its algorithm (, Google has finally put the smack down on Web companies who attempt to artificially boost their page rank in Google's search results. Google Fellow Amit Singhal and Engineer Matt Cutts announced in a blog post Thursday evening that Google has finally implemented some key changes to its algorithm to cut down on the proliferation of low-quality sites peppering its search results. The changes, the two said, will affect nearly 12% of query results. 

The changes are specifically designed to rachet down low-quality sites--which Singhal and Cutts define as sites that copy content from other sites, are low-value add for users, or sites that are "just not very useful"--while boosting high-quality sites. High-quality sites include those with original research and content, in-depth reports, etc. 

"Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem," the blog post read. "Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does."

The two also noted that while the search changes don't specifically rely on data from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, the company did compare the changes with data from the Personal Blocklist and found that the changes were consistent with user preferences. Among the top domains that users most commonly block, Cutts and Singhal said, the new algorithmic change addresses 84% of them.

Like any school-yard drama, everyone already knows who the key players are, despite the fact that Google didn't specifically name any domains. Demand Media is rumored to be a special target of Google's search changes. Sources close to the issue told Business Insider that "there's a department full of Ph.Ds at Google that exists for the sole purpose of getting Demand Media out of the search results." ...Perhaps to try to get rid of eHow pages like the one above?

Demand Media responded with a blog post of its own late Thursday night: 

"As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business," wrote Demand's EVP of Media and Operations Larry Fitzgibbon, adding: "However, we generally don’t comment or speculate on changes by major search engines. They make changes nearly daily in a quest to give consumers the best possible experience, as do we."

Earlier this week, Google cracked down on for artificially boosting its page rank by offering discounts to colleges and universities who linked to pages. Generally speaking, Google's algorithm recognizes sites associated with ".edu" URLs to be of higher quality than others (since the algorithm gives higher rank to original content and research). 

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