On 25th of February Google made a change in their search algorithm. It is designed to bring higher-quality, relevant search results to users by removing content farms and spam from the rankings. Targeted sites are those currently using duplicate content from authority sites or hosting content that has been copied by a large amount of scrap sites.
Google also launched Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, developed to allow users to block websites, which they’ve found to be worthless. Google sees it as a great tool that checks whether the algorithm change is performing correctly. It has already proved to work among 84% of sites scraping google.
Google will not take the Blocklist data into consideration when it comes to spam identification though. It would pose a risk of another black hat SEO technique being used enabling people playing the search results.
Who is affected?
Google seems to devalue content that has been produced with low quality in mind such as through hiring writers that have no knowledge of the topics to mass produce articles, that are later submitted to large amount of article directories. Using automated article submission software was always considered a black hat SEO technique, “effectively dealt by Google”.
Major article directories such as EzineArticles or HubPages have been affected. Although, the articles on these sites are often unique to begin with, they are later copied and populated on other sites free of charge or submitted to 100s of other article directories. The sites that copy the article from directories are obliged to provide a link back to the article directory. This link building technique will have to be revised in order to face the algorithm change.
The good news is that Matt Cuts said that ‘the searchers are more likely to see the websites that are the owners of the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content’.
Mostly affected sites are the ‘scraper’ sites that do not populate original content themselves but copy content from other sources using RSS feed, aggregate small amounts of content or simply “scrape” or copy content from other sites using automated methods.
If EzineArticles, HubPages and Squidoo dropped in rankings so should Knol (Google property) that allows users to post their articles. How is Google Knol different? These articles can also be submitted to other article hosting sites.
There are already some changes found on EzineArticles submission requirements including article length changes, removal of the WordPress Plugin, reduction in the number of ads per page, removal of categories such as “men’s issues”. The other article directories will have to follow the changes in order to be able to compete.
Article writing as an SEO technique
Apparently, websites that use article directories for SEO on their own site are likely to be affected as well. Google wants to count legitimate links back to a website, not links made by a website owner trying to improve their rank.
New SEO approach
The algorithm change means that SEOs might have to change their tactics. We might see a shift away from article directories and more over to link directories. Digital agency will have to find a new, effective way of link building.