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Google launched another major Algorithm change targeted at low-quality sites that copy content, or collect large volumes of low-quality content, and this seems to very significantly include article hosting sites that white hat SEO use for backlink building.
This change affects nearly 12% of search queries, making it a massive change indeed — that’s around 360 million searches per day that are going to show different ranks as a result of this algorithm change.
Here’s what Google had to say about the algorithm change:
This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.
Google also commented that this change was not based on information gathered from their new Google Chrome extension, but that they compared the results of the algorithm change to the user block lists from the Chrome extension and found that their algorithm change did organically overlap significantly with block lists:
It’s worth noting that this update does not rely on the feedback we’ve received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which we launched last week. However, we did compare the Blocklist data we gathered with the sites identified by our algorithm, and we were very pleased that the preferences our users expressed by using the extension are well represented. If you take the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension, then this algorithmic change addresses 84% of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the user benefits.
Google algorithm change nails article sites
Sistrix has released probably the most comprehensive research into the effects of this change in the early days, which seems to clearly be targeting article hosting sites, devaluing these article sites significantly. Article hosting sites are primarily used by white-hat SEO professionals to generate backlinks in a way that does not violate Goolge’s Webmaster Guidelines.
With article sites, SEO copywriters can churn out articles about a company and host them on a dozen or more article sites, and each article then contains a backlink back to the SEO client’s website. With these sites now hugely devalued, it remains to be seen how valuable they will be in the future as a source of backlinks.
Sistrix’s list of the 25 sites that were most negatively impacted by this change are:
Sites benefiting from the algorithm change
Of course any time sites drop in rankings, there must be exactly that many sites that gain in rankings. The top sites to benefit from this Google algorithm change include:
So while it’s possible that the SEO link benefit of article sites will be decreasing with the algorithm change (since the algorithm change suggests that those sites are considered less authoritative, thus the links will be worth less) it’s also possible that having videos on YouTube — and video for SEO is already an important SEO tool — could become more important than ever.