There has been quite a bit of noise about last week’s ‘farmer update’ announced by Google. In a nutshell, the latest algorithm change aims the sights firmly at low quality sites that offer no unique content.

Google’s aim has always been to produce the most relevant results in the quickest possible time for its users queries and this latest update focuses on rewarding high-quality websites providing great content and lower the rankings of low-quality sites that are not useful or simply copy content from others sites.

Google claims that: “Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries”.

The early signs are that websites that simply strip content from other websites such as Demand Media and Mahalo will be hit hardest by the changes and websites like eHow and Answers.com could be penalised too.

Currently this update is only live in the U.S and looking at U.S forum discussions shows the general consensus is that profile links are being devalued. Therefore websites that have mainly profile back links, such as forum profile links, should be worried about these changes as they could see their rankings decrease.

On the official Google blog it states that these latest updates are not solely based on the feedback it received via ‘Personal Blocklist Chrome Extension’, but after analysing the data it showed that 84% of a sample of the top-blocked sites were addressed by the changes.

Google says that it is “very excited about this new ranking improvement because we believe it’s a big step in the right direction of helping people find ever higher quality in our results.”

Google plans to roll out the changes worldwide over time, so it will be interesting to see if these changes make a difference to rankings when the update reaches the UK.