Google has confirmed it changed the way content quality is assessed in a new update dubbed the “Quality Update”
After webmasters began noticing changes in Google’s search results pages last month, the company quietly broke the news to Search Engine Land, a news site that covers search engine optimization.
Google told the site that Quality Update is a change to the “core ranking algorithm in terms of how it processes quality signals.” This means sites that have higher quality, according to Google’s new update, will show up higher on the search engine results page (SERP).
The update is essentially a small-scale version of a larger effort to improve Google’s search results and the user experience. Google webmaster trend analyst John Mueller explained in a Google+ Hangout last month that algorithmic updates happen frequently in pursuit of the goal “to make sure that the quality of the search results are really as high as possible.”
Since the update impacts websites at the site-level, there is nothing that can be gained by making changes to individual pages. Websites that provide user-created content that is potentially of a low quality, and sites that have been hit by the Panda update in the past, are the sites hit the hardest by the new update. In 2011, Panda was the first major step Google took towards favoring quality content as it focused on devaluing websites with low quality and thin content, particularly sites with a high ad-to-content ratio.
In the weeks since the Quality Update, Hubpages, a revenue-sharing website with user generated content, has reported massive drops in their rankings. In addition to discovering Quality Update does not work on a page-level basis but rather the whole site, Hubpages found that “how-to” article sites such as About.com, eHow, and Answers.com saw a decline in rankings.
SEO experts say the best way to avoid being struck by this newest Google update is to, as simple as it sounds, produce high-quality content.
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