Big news in the search engine optimization world last week: Google has announced a major change to its algorithm, designed to push lower-quality content mills down further in the rankings and improve the overall quality of search results users see when entering search terms. According to Rob Fore's blog, this is bad news for sites that depend solely on user-submitted content and ad revenue, such as Ezinearticles.com, other article directories, and sites known as "content mills," which typically pay freelance writers to write short articles on broad topics packed with keywords to gain high search engine rankings, and thus boost ad revenues.

Google's official blog reports that the algorithm change has noticeably affected 11.8% of search queries. You'll notice by searching for a few key words that sites that used to regularly appear on page one, such as eHow.com, are now pushed back to page two or three.

Google's algorithm changes search results

So what does this mean for assisted living marketing?

Well, if you're not focused on your web presence, it means nothing. If you are--and you should be--the change has a number of advantages, provided that you approach your content in the right way. If you have high-quality, original, relevant content, your assisted living website will benefit. Eliminating content obtained through article directories or that is otherwise non-original will reduce the odds of being pushed back in the rankings. Sites with niche content (content that offers in-depth information on a narrow topic) should perform better than those with broad content covering hundreds of topics.

If you use article marketing as part of your web visibility strategy, it will be important over the next few months to measure any performance changes. You're likely to see less traffic from these sites as they no longer dominate the first few pages of Google search results, but many assisted living marketers use article marketing strictly as a means for generating backlinks. It's not yet clear whether the value of these backlinks will be affected by the change.

That said, you should focus the majority of your efforts on creating value-added content for your assisted living niche and publishing it on your own website. Don't rely solely on article directories and content farms for backlinks, and don't spend tons of time crafting original content for publishing on these types of sites. If you're going to make the effort to create quality, original content for publishing elsewhere, try placing those articles (as guest articles or blogs) on other industry-related niche websites that will now be more visible in search engine results pages (SERPs).