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Google Acknowledges Complaints About ‘Content Farm’-Heavy Search Results

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In response to accusations that its search results are increasingly being filled with low-quality results — much of it from so-called “content farms” — Google (NSDQ: GOOG) says it is working to improve the quality of the pages it highlights on its search engine. “We hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: People are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content,” Google’s Matt Cutts says in a blog post. He adds that the company has “new efforts underway to continue to improve our search quality.”

Cutts does not specify what those will be but any move by Google that could give less prominence to results from sites like the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Contributor Network or Demand Media would be a major blow to those companies’ business models, which in large part depend on being ranked highly on the search engine. The timing of the announcement could not be worse for Demand Media, which is expected to go public next week.

In an interview with CNET, Cutts outlines two measures Google may take: He says the company will push a recently-released extension for its Chrome browser that lets users mark sites as spam so in order to gather sufficient data about what sites are low-quality and may also develop an algorithm that would presumably ensure that low-quality sites designed only to rank highly in search results would no longer get as much play on the search engine.

Cutts says that overall Google has improved the quality of its search results over the last year, distinguishing between pages from “content farms,” which he defines as “sites with shallow or low-quality content” and “pure webspam.” As for the latter, he says the company has “successfully beaten back,” referring, for instance, to a new initiative that detects “repeated spammy words” on a page.

5 Responses to “Google Acknowledges Complaints About ‘Content Farm’-Heavy Search Results”

  1. If they are going to clean up their search results start with the sites that “may harm your computer”
    Why does google still show them but if someone is suspected of buying a link they are removed from the index. Why? Ad revenue, that’s why. They actually don’t want organic search to be important just so competitive that you have to buy THEIR links.
    They want PPC (also called a purchased link) to be the most efficient method of generating traffic.

  2. I think it’s very lazy of this article’s author to simply throw Demand Media and Yahoo into the pile of low-quality content makers as a whole. While I’m sure those companies have as much chase as any site, even Paid Content, to generate what could easily be considered a low-quality article, those two companies and the others like them are not the problem.

    Where the problem lies is in the companies that are in the spamming content business; those that churn out keyword dense, yet somehow low on actual information articles whose obvious sole purpose in life is to rank and to rank others.

    Meanwhile, sites on Demand Media have actual humans writing great content (the items on eHow and Cracked are particularly useful and entertaining to me) that actually serve a purpose in life and are making money from advertising.

    The real issue is that these spammy sites make money, not just from link bait buyers, but also from Google Adsense. Normal searchers, not the pros that would read this site, get to those spam pages, don’t see what they are for there, and click on an ad to move on. The spam page makes money AND Google makes money and the customer eventually makes it to a useful site. Everybody in that chain is mostly happy. The only people that notice that there’s a crap page in that mix are the pros… and if they fixed that, then what would there be left to complain about?

  3. gemma murray

    Buying a walking foot for my sewing machine this morning.

    Searched Google for Brother Innovis 500d walking foot.

    First two results are Ciao. First link says read reviews and compare prices but only has product reference and no new info but reviews of DVDs e.g ?Only the dead see the end of the war? —————————————————— Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Toby McGuire RuN-TiMe 105 minutes Certificate 15 Adult themes American ————

    Second link also to Ciao just as useless.

    Then Google lists sewing shops which might know what they are talking about. Why does Google list huge irrelevant sites above useful, little sites? Is it trying to put useful websites out of business?

  4. Ian Lamont

    I read Cutts’ post, and found it strange that Google is bragging about how great it is at battling spam while the main problem that people were criticizing the company for in December and January — low-quality content farms, scrapers, SEO outfits and affiliate marketers — are still major problems in search results. I use Google every day, and have found that certain keywords are basically useless to find quality content. SEO has simply taken over.

    Obvious solutions to the problem exist, such as letting users flag low-quality content, de-indexing garbage sites and the link networks they belong to, and giving lower weight to sites whose main purpose is to promote affiliate programs and online advertising. Why can’t Google take such steps? Is it because they don’t want to kill their AdSense cash cow, or something else?