For years, Google has used proprietary algorithms to create its search engine results. These formulations are designed to improve search results. The average user doesn’t notice changes in these formulas over time. However, websites that rely upon traffic from Google follow such changes religiously. The slightest modification can help or doom a given website. Google may have updated its algorithms sometime during May.

How are websites affected by search engine results?

Search engine results and Web traffic affect sites in different manners. For instance, sites that rely on ad revenue seek high rankings in Google. A site whose pages land on page one for results see thousands upon thousands of daily visitors. Websites on page two or lower could see a fraction of those numbers. Therefore, changing search engine rankings could cost companies hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month.

Google Targeted Content Farms in 2011

Google attempts to rank websites by their quality and value to searchers. Typically, the company frowns upon websites looking solely for ad revenue without providing value to visitors. So-called content farms, websites that focus on content quantity rather than quality, have been targeted in algorithm changes recently. In 2011, Google released the Panda Update, which targeted content farms. These websites immediately saw decreases in page views and ad revenue by 15 to 80 percent.

May Brings Evidence of an Algorithm Update

Many people, especially content farm users, considered Panda to be too harsh. Isolated incidents of quality websites losing search engine ranks were reported. After its release, Google tweaked Panda to improve rankings for non-content farms. It appears as though Google has changed its algorithm to penalize certain content farms less, though. Starting in May 2014, sites started reporting major increases in page views.

Since these increases were consistent, most people assumed Google had amended the Panda algorithm. The company hasn’t released a statement confirming or denying these rumors, though. Page view data and other evidence seem to prove that’s the case at this point. Search engine rankings for various websites have improved, leading to speculation about Google’s update. For that reason, it’s safe to assume that Google has loosened its stranglehold on content farms and similar sites.