Google Struggles to Define Quality

We deeply care about the people who are generating high-quality content sites, which are the key to a healthy web ecosystem. AMIT SINGHAL, Google Search Guru
This site focuses on high-quality, original B2B content. So Google’s new search algorithm, which is designed to seek, find and reward quality sites with original content, has garnered quite a few pixels in recent weeks.

Many website owners and bloggers trumpeted the new emphasis on quality. Others are finding the algorithm has had the opposite effect of its stated purpose: content-farm and scraper sites are out-ranking original content sites.

To learn more about this conundrum, I turned to a March 3, 2011 article on Wired Epicenter, called The Panda that Hates Farms.

In it, Steven Levy includes an interview with Amit Singhal, Google’s search quality guru, and Matt Cutts, Google’s top search-spam expert. If you’re seeking a deeper understanding, it’s worth reading.

Some important points emerged. Briefly, Google acknowledges that:
  • It hasn’t perfected its approach to shallow-content sites
  • The most neutral way to display search results is in random or alphabetical order
  • Random and alphabetical lists aren’t useful to most searchers
  • Quality content helps Google deliver value
  • The new algorithm contains signals that can be gamed, so Google is protecting these details
  • It handles more than a billion searches a day
Google is continuing to refine the new algorithm and develop ways to evaluate content, while it struggles to define quality content in a meaningful way. These factors are the crux of search engine success.

The good news? Some sites have seen their rankings improve. For example, when I searched for updates on the Google algorithm, the B2B Write Now article, Google Rewards High-Value Sites, appeared in the first page results.

The bad news? Some sites lost up to 94% of their keyword search traffic, which may be justified in some cases but not in others.

One thing remains constant. For business people, the fine points of Google search algorithms pale in comparison to the bottom line.

So what is that bottom line?

Roughly 70% of all online searches are conducted through Google. This means if you’re not on Google, you’re not on the web. Investing a little time and effort to understand how Google defines quality and the effect that has on you and your business makes sense.


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