Is Google's New Anti-Content Farm Algo Actually Better?

from the seems-like-it dept

We already posted Chas' interesting post about Google's attempt to "demote" content farms, and people are starting to explore whether or not the results are actually better. Alexis Madrigal, over at The Atlantic, used the fact that Google only rolled out the changes in the US and some remote proxies to compare results and noticed a clear improvement, at least in the search he tried.
Granted, this is just one search for "drywall dust," but if this is even remotely indicative of how well the new algorithm works, we're all going to be tremendously impressed. The search via India led to seven sites that were producing low-quality or aggregated content, a photo of someone covered in dust, and a blog about an individual's remodel. The new algorithm search yielded very different results. Not only were there less content farms but two specialty sites and five fora made the list as well as a Centers for Disease Control page on the dangers of drywall dust. Having clicked through all 20 links, I can assure you that the information delivered by the new algorithm is much, much better.
It's definitely still early, and I'm sure that there will be many similar comparisons, but it looks like some of my prediction from last summer in response to all sorts of public fretting about evil content farms may be coming true. As I noted at the time:
The situation that we're in right now is one where the current filtering mechanisms might not yet be good enough to distinguish quality content from crappy content. But that's a temporary state of affairs... If Google starts realizing that people do, in fact, find content farm content to be useless, that content will eventually get rated down, no matter how much they try to play SEO games.
Nice to see that might actually be happening.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    TamTroll, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 6:53pm

    How can you argue that you're against Internet censorship when you're in favor of Google censuring the Internet?

    (sorry, I figure I might as well get it out of the way in advanced. Maybe someone else can also get a response out of the way so that we can hopefully get to a more meaningful discussion sooner).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:09pm

      Re:

      (Mike, why don't you respond. You know some bone headed genius is going to make this argument eventually, so you might as well respond now. It would hopefully save you the time later on).

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Big Al, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 8:10pm

      Re:

      How is this censorship? The web isn't Google (unless you're a tech-illiterate Joe Sixpack) and all the content farms are still out there ready to catch your typoes and other fat-fingered flailings.
      After all, I'm sure that if you want the juicy bit of information held on that page then a focussed Google search will still find it for you - but don't expect it to come up in a relatively unrelated search any more.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 8:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Good, now that that discussion is over, hopefully we don't have to deal with the trolls bringing it up.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:43pm

    I can't help but think that a forum isn't any better than a content farm.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      monkyyy, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:55pm

      Re:

      a bit better as it may be exactly what someones looking for, an answer to an uncommon question

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 1st, 2011 @ 8:01pm

      Re:

      really? a lot of the best and hardest-to-find information on the web is buried in forums. to me that was the most exciting part about these results!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 8:26pm

        Re: Re:

        You of course know that based on this results, spammers will be creating tons and tons of fake forums, right?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 1st, 2011 @ 8:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ah okay, I didn't realize that's what you meant. I thought you were comparing the quality of the content.

          You are certainly right, though without knowing exactly how the Google algorithms work, that may not be the approach that proves most fruitful. Time will tell, and the battle will carry on!

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 9:08pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Whoa!? Spammers will spam? Oh no.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          vivaelamor (profile), Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 5:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "You of course know that based on this results, spammers will be creating tons and tons of fake forums, right?"

          Depending on what they actually changed in the algorithm, I think that probably wouldn't matter. The algorithm is likely favouring forums because they hit its criteria for quality content, rather than the fact they're forums.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 11:18pm

      Re:

      It's better in the same way a blog is.

      The main deciding factor is user traffic and quality of backlinks.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Transbot9, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:57pm

    It'll work for a while...

    It'll work for a while, but there are always people trying to "game" the system.

    What I find interesting is that Bing, while number two by a wide, wide margin, Google feels threatened enough to first change their image search to a (poor, in my opinion) copy of Bing's image search, followed by this new algorithim to improve search results.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 1st, 2011 @ 8:06pm

      Re: It'll work for a while...

      I can sort of see what you mean with the image search, but google has always been dedicated to improving their core search algorithm. It's way bigger than just trying to stay ahead of Bing, it's about the broad question of trying to stay relevant at all - if the search algorithms don't stay ahead of the content farm algorithms, then the whole concept of algorithmic search becomes worthless. I'd guess Google, in the long term, feels a lot more threatened by the the world of passed links and social search than they do by Bing, and that's what motivates a major change to their core product like this.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Transbot9, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 7:30am

        Re: Re: It'll work for a while...

        I'm sure I'm not the only one, though, who has noticed when I can't find what I am looking for with Google, I can usually find it with Bing. Often, the opposite isn't true - at least before the latest algorithm.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    John, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 8:18pm

    These results aren't accurate because google uses machine learning to rank sites in different regions. It's how they can make google work in different languages.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 8:31pm

    I'm glad to see this happened...finally.

    It's one thing to game the system but when the system is gamed so hard that 1/2 the search results are advertisement farms, then search is of less value for use.

    Most were fairly easy to spot because they would have a whole mess of possible terms so you didn't have to open them to know what they were.

    Still they limited your results because they took up space that should have been for relevant hits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bill, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 10:59pm

    Roseta stone?

    Roseta stone sucks from my experience, you asked for a better alternative, try pimselur. Everyone that I've worked overseas swears by it. I have a friend working for the DoS and is learning french, I asked him does the DoS use RS, and he said yes, however its 1 of 140 language software packages they use, and not one they reccomend. Pimselur is kinda pricey, and to be honest i'm not sure who you should buy it from as there seems to be several sites selling it, though they do all appear to be the same, but not sure if that really is the case. Good luck with whatever language you decide on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Hiiragi Kagami (profile), Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 3:33am

    One step down. One more to go...

    ... and that's to remove those links to store fronts who sell drywall dust, and just about everything else under the sun.

    *sigh*

    Wishful thinking on my behalf.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 6:03am

    Fake Websites and Other Idiocy

    Pet peeve time. Can't blame Google, or can I?

    Internet searching could use improvement. It's very frustrating when doing research, lets say on a court decision, and many of the search results are sales pitches for a non-existent or irrelevant products.

    In one real product search attempt, I entered the model number of a battery that I need and I got a lot of links for "battery sales", but it turned out that many of the sites did not even have the battery!

    I also have yet to figure out how this happened, but I was looking up a product. As a result of a search, I had two tabs open on what appeared to be the same website, but the product price was different!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Tom, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 7:45am

    But did it really work?

    Interestingly, some so-called content farm sites actually seem to have received a boost from the algorithm changes. eHow.com is actually showing up higher in rankings on some basic keyword searches I did yesterday. Definitely not a scientific approach, but I read a few articles that found much the same thing.

    What I find most interesting is that Google claims the new algorithm will focus on not only "quality content" but content that provides "thoughtful analysis". Thoughtful analysis is a pretty subjective concept. I would be curious to know how something so ambiguous is defined in the algorithm.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    yinka, Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    A lot better

    I'm totally in support of google new algorithm change, i've just seen my majors keyword competitors virtually disappear off google overnight.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This