SEOs and webmasters have been eagerly anticipating, both in fear and excitement, the release of Google's content farm algorithm. Google announced that is has been rolled out yesterday. This is the second of two released, the first being aimed at scraper sites.
Google's Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts wrote:
In the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking - a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries - and we wanted to let people know what's going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sitessites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.
Google also made a point to say that the overlap between those reporting sites using the new Chrome Blocklist extension and the 12% of the results that were changed, had an 84% overlap. They took that to mean, overall, most of the results Google removed were vouched by searchers.
Danny Sullivan has a lot more details, interviewing Google about this specific update. Danny named it the Farmer Update. I should note this was only released in the U.S. as of now and Google will roll it out elsewhere soon.
I should note that the ehow's of the worlds are not all bad. I am not sure if this algorithm targets specific domains or targets page by page level content - but I do hope it targets page by page. I, personally, do find value in many of the articles that some of you may call "content farms." I have seen a shift in results for how to articles, often articles I send people to for answering quick questions related to iPhone troubleshooting. But honestly, I can still get good answers with the results today, so I guess no harm to the searcher?
In any event, many are saying Mahalo was hit hard by this, whereas ehow.com was not hit as hard. I do see some ehow.com results lower than they were previously and heck, I even see some very good ranking mahalo.com results. Some are saying it has to do with the AdSense, either number of ads or placement (but I doubt that). Maybe the rollout isn't complete on my side? I guess we will find out over the course of the week based on the forums.
If you are concerned and want to dig deeper, I strongly recommend you check out the forums. Some of them are talking about specific examples and some are talking more in generalities.