Google has announced an algorithm change in a blog post entitled ‘Finding more high-quality sites in search‘, stating that “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.”
It certainly is a more involved response to discussions on poor search quality than the PR campaign Google has been conducting, from action against specific sites, new tools and competitors to asserting their search quality compared to the past.
The interesting thing in this debate on content quality is; what do the users actually think? In the end Google’s interests as a buisness lie in satisfying their users with content that is ‘good enough’ for their purposes. The opinion of search optimisers and enthusiasts does not matter compared to those of the mass market.
Arguably, gossip magazines and tabloid TV journalism are low-quality content, and they seem to do OK. I would say that this year is shaping up to be an interesting year in search, but so have the last two, so that statement does not really mean much.