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Google tweaks search to push out ‘content farms’

By Joanna Chiu
Friday, February 25, 2011 15:36 EDT
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Google announced Thursday that it has made a major change to its algorithm to push down the rankings of low-quality websites and “reward” high-quality content.

While not explicit, this change is Google’s long-anticipated response to the rising prevalence of content farms such as eHow and Demand Media.

Google tweaks its algorithm around 500 times a year, but most changes are so subtle that users do not notice them. This latest change, according to a Google blog post, is “a pretty big algorithmic improvement…a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of [Google search] queries.”

For the past year, Google has been struggling to prevent low-quality, irrelevant articles from appearing prominently in search results.

Matt Cutts, Google’s Principal Engineer, has said in a recent interview that “in general, there are some content farms that I think it would be fair to call spam, in the sense that the quality is so low-quality that people complain.”

Content farms generate ad revenue by producing articles that respond to the most frequently searched keywords.  While not all content from sites such as eHow and Demand Media is low-quality, their writers are unpaid, or given next to nothing, and have to churn out articles at a mad pace.

Yesterday, Larry Fitzgibbon, Demand Media’s EVP of Media and Operations, responded to Google in a blog post, where he “applaud[ed] changes search engines make to improve the consumer experience – it’s both the right thing to do and our focus as well.”

Fitzgibbon also said that Demand Media has not yet seen a net impact on its business.

Google said it was continuing to work on more updates to improve search quality results.

Whether or not these changes will affect the average users’ experience may become more apparent in the coming months.

 
 
 
 
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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KFOFZHLUNJCQATOHPSVHSFKP3I pw

    Yeah lets leave it up to Google to tell us what is relevant and irrelevant.

  • http://twitter.com/ActivistPost Activist Post

    Yes, this is a very important topic for all of us who wish to share information. Here is our version of what all of this means: http://www.activistpost.com/2011/02/new-google-algorithm-is-live-news.html

  • Pollgera

    Listen as someone that has to fight the ‘e content’ sites – this matters. I have good content on my biz sites, relative to the products we sell. But there is NO Way we can compete with those places. And they are going to show up ahead of us because of the sheer amount they churn out.

    It would be very nice to let us little guys have a valid chance again.

  • http://bestvpnforyou.com/ user4574

    I’m sure some of what they’re doing is actually pushing out low quality content, but I think the other part of it is a continual effort recently to shove down valuable sites so Google can replace it with their own scraped content pages and aggregation. You can see it with the increased prevalence of Google’s product pages and places pages, which are almost all scraped content and reviews from other sites. They want more eyeball time staying on Google…so they shove down eHow, scrape the content, aggregate and mix it with other sources, and create “GoogleHow”. That was exactly the complaint Yelp and other sites recently made about Google’s places pages. Many Yelp results dropped below places pages, but a lot of the reviews aggregated on places pages are scraped from Yelp.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V5XKDORJ6HIVIZ6V5OTK76KTEY Immortal

    I have long stated that the first element of relevancy is the date an article was written. Google seems to think an article on the Internet written in 1995 is as relevant as an article that was written this morning. Go figure.

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