Google Effectively Puts Demand Media On Notice Days Before Planned IPO
from the well,-look-at-that... dept
Over the last year or so, there was growing concern about how “content farms” like Demand Media and Associated Content were “clogging up” search engines and cluttering the web with junk content. However, as we noted last summer, this is really a filter problem, rather than a content problem as many were claiming, and we assumed that, sooner or later, Google would realize that people hate this type of content and it would adjust its algorithm to filter it out (or to make it a lot less prominent). It appears that time may be coming. Over the last few weeks there have been a bunch of articles complaining about the decreasing usefulness of Google, in large part due to those content farms.
It looks like Google is finally waking up to this issue. Google spam-fighter-in-chief, Matt Cutts, has posted on the Official Google blog that the company has heard the complaints and realizes its algorithms need to be better at not recommending content farm crap that people don’t like:
As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, 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. We take pride in Google search and strive to make each and every search perfect. The fact is that we’re not perfect, and combined with users’ skyrocketing expectations of Google, these imperfections get magnified in perception. However, we can and should do better.
The timing on this is especially interesting, given that the leading content farm, Demand Media, is looking to go public next week. The company’s IPO is already considered to be pretty questionable, for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to) the general sleaziness of how the company has been run — including lying about profitability (and even suggesting others do it since no one gets caught), using highly questionable accounting tricks to make the company look more profitable than it really is, and the fact that insiders are dumping a huge amount of stock in the IPO. And, oh yeah, it relies really heavily on Google to make its money. So finding out that Google is likely to cut off at least some of that gravy train probably isn’t what the company wanted to hear this week.
Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, however. While everyone has been complaining about content farms, it’s time for the filters to step up and re-assert their own importance by diminishing the crappy content that no one wants to see.