On 21 January 2011, Matt Cutts – head of Google’s Webspam team – announced on Google’s official blog about the search engine’s approach towards improving search quality by tackling search engine spam. That was actually in response to a chorus of critics against Google for indexing spammy content which has made the users’ search experience really sucky. It seems like the world’s biggest search engine has been slacking on the job and has done nothing much to fulfill its promise of serving quality content to users when they perform a search online.
I can clearly feel the passion behind Matt’s post as he reassured everyone that Google will never condone webspam. In fact, he pointed out that over the past decade or so, Google’s search quality is way better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness. “Today, English-language spam in Google’s results is less than half what it was five years ago, and spam in most other languages is even lower than in English.”
Truly, a week later, Google made an algorithmic change to its SERPS and this time, its attention was said to have shifted towards tackling “content farms” which are sites with shallow or low quality content. Actually, Matt did give a hint in his post that Google was “evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content.”
So Is Google’s Latest Algorithmic Change Towards Webspam Working?
Apparently, they have missed out on at least one company called Demand Media. Most people who have read Matt’s post naturally assume that he was talking about websites like eHow.com of Demand Media which launched an IPO recently valuing the company at $1.5 billion. Well, it is not that Demand Media is the only “content farm” (if that is how we understand it from Matt’s definition) in town but usually, when an article is written about “content farms”, Demand Media is popularly cited as it has basically become the notorious poster child for this phrase.
For the sake of the potential shareholders of Demand Media, I really hope Google – or specifically Matt – can shed us some light on whether content from eHow.com and similar sites of Demand Media is considered to be of “poor quality”.
Well, you guys might not know … Demand Media has a huge team of SEO gurus and complex scientific algorithms designed to create content that will rank high in the search engines. Even more surprising, they pay a mere couple of bucks per article or video and these content actually shows up in the SERPS for medical results right next to WebMD and Mayo Clinic. A content library consisting of 3 million articles and around 200,000 videos as of 15 December 2010. A business “model that they think is scalable and readily transferrable to international markets”. All these just support a plain fact that Demand Media is going to keep cranking out content on an increasing scale. If Demand Media is not considered a content farm, then who is? The writers working for Demand Media certainly aren’t doctors or medical consultants who are capable of giving expert advice.
When asked to sum up Demand Media’s relationship with Google, CEO Richard Rosenblatt pointed out one point that struck me instantly: “We help them [Google] fill the gaps in their index, where they don’t have quality content”. Well, it seems that they are going way further than merely filling in the gaps … even to the point of saturation but who can blame them? If it works, then why not? The ball is really in Google’s court as far as how well they are going to let it continue to work.
Not convinced that the search engine has totally wiped out content farms, I did a little test on Google. I got my hands dirty and did a search for the search phrase “level 4 brain cancer”. eHow.com. eHow.com. And more results from eHow.com. Shouldn’t Google be showing results from a more medical-related authority website and ranking them higher than eHow.com? As you scroll down the page, you will see websites like Yahoo Answers or Associated Content. You get the idea. Google, are you really providing us with quality content? I doubt.
And what about SeekingAlpha.com? Hmm, I visit this website quite often and I like the content on it. This website aggregates content from TechCrunch and many other blogs. So far, so good. I have nothing against SeekingAlpha.com as long as I get good material to read every day but why is this website still a partner of Google’s Adsense program and deriving revenue from it? Why is it still ranking high in the SERPS? Google, aren’t you against duplicate content? I seriously do not understand.
If Demand Media, SeekingAlpha and other similar websites – that are generally labeled as content farms – want to continue to reap the Google love and benefits, they really ought to step up on the quality. It really dampens the search experience, if all I see are results from websites providing spammy contents.
Google, have you heard enough? Matt, it is time to gather your Webspam team together for a good talk about it. High time.
As CEO of Affiliate Home Business, Jack Harold is an experienced Internet marketer and has helped thousands of his students to apply Internet marketing strategies to succeed online. If you will like to know how to make money online, you can grab a free copy of his exclusive “The Rags To Riches Blueprint” at his website, Affiliate Home Business.