The Wall Street Journal has an update a few days into Google's rather significant change to its search mechanism. It's a change that was aimed at getting rid of search spam. The big winners appear to be the big players: well known retailers, well known social networking sites, and well known news sites. The losers include, as expected, the sites that provide a lot of junk results. But losers may also include sites that are caught in the crossfire. Several content sites that publish thousands of articles on a variety of topics (the kinds of articles that traditionally fared well in Google search) say they provide a legit service but are getting nuked unfairly. One of the ways Google measures this is to chart how often users hit the Back button on the first page after a search result, which could be an indicator of how well the user liked that content.
It kind of brings up a good point: if sites are paying writers to produce content that at least comes close to an editorial standard, is that search spam or is that just the have-nots that don't write for a big name content producer? In its quest to kill search spam, is Google rewarding the elites and making an unlevel playing field?

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