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.