You may notice that Google is functioning a little differently today. The search engine recently made a major change to their search algorithms in order to strike back at so-called "content farms". These sites, which feature large amounts of mass-produced content angled to rank high on Google, have been accused of reducing the overall quality of search results. Demand Media, owners of eHow, are perhaps the best-known content farm.
Google expects these changes to affect roughly 12% of search results. 84% of the top dozen blocked domains on Google Chrome were included in the sweep. Since this is a blanket change, there is some fear that it could cause issues for legitimate sites. Sorting the good sites from the bad ones is complicated by the fact that many content farms also have legitimate arms. For example, Demand Media also owns Cracked.com, which is very definitely not a 'farmed' site.
Demand responded to these changes earlier today. Their EVP of Media and Operations noted that some of their properties rose and some fell due to the move. He did state that "at this time" Demand has not seen a material impact on their business from the change.
While every piece of analysis you'll find on this change will mention the phrase "content farms", Google has avoided using that term. Matt Cutts, of Google's spam fighting team, told Search Engine Land that "I think people will get the idea of the types of sites we're talking about."
[Via Google Blog]