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Google Moves Ahead With Its ‘Content Farm’ Campaign

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Google (NSDQ: GOOG), which suggested last month it would be taking “stronger action” to ensure its search results were not overridden with results from content farms, appears to be taking its first concrete step to ensure users have a better experience. A new extension for its Chrome browser, released today, lets users block specific sites from showing up in their search results. The company says it may then take that information into account when it determines how to rank results.

The move is unlikely to worry content farms very much considering all of the asterisks involved (users have to have Chrome and install the extension and specify the sites they want to block) and that the language Google uses is far from strong (“We will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.”)

It is, however, a small step forward from what Google said it was doing last month when it acknowledged that “people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content.” Back then, it didn’t specify what it was going to do about the issue, although Google’s Matt Cutts told CNET that the company planned to promote an existing Chrome extension that lets users mark sites as spam and also was considering coming up with an “algorithmic solution.”

An aside: People tend to associate the word “content farm” with Demand Media (NYSE: DMD), but there’s debate about whether Google considers Demand Media to be a content farm. CEO Richard Rosenblatt said last month, for instance, that when Google was referring to content farms it was “talking about duplicate, non-original content.” Google likely has a much broader definition in mind, however. The company says content farms “are sites with shallow or low-quality content” and includes screenshots in its announcement today from a spoof site that takes aim at the content that Demand Media is well known for.