Late last week, Google announced a major algorithm update. “Major” means that a hefty 12% of US search results are impacted by the change. Just how is Google hoping to improve their results with the update? The official blog post states:

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.

The update is far from being a surprise, as Google’s been facing increased censure for spammy results since the beginning of the year, including some high-profile criticism from the New York Times after they failed to catch an ambitious black-hat SEO campaign by Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, announced in late January that Google was working on implementing changes to reduce spam in search results, specifically aimed at sites with low levels of unique content. February’s algorithm update seems to be the follow-through.

The long and short of it is that, now more than ever, Google can tell the difference between scraped (copied) content and quality, unique content. And they want quality, unique content. This has been the trend at Google for years:

1998-2004: Google’s algorithm rewards sites based on the number of incoming links
2004-2010: Google continued to reward based on links and began to factor in domain trust
2011+: Google rewards sites based on links, domain trust AND quality content

So will your site be part of that 12% affected by the algorithm changes? If your site publishes quality, unique content (as Marketplace Earth has always encouraged its clients to do) and doesn’t copy content from other sources, you’ll be in good shape. If not…it’s time to work on that, and Marketplace Earth is eager to help.