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.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Is Google's New Anti-Content Farm Algo Actually Better?”

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TamTroll says:

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).

Big Al says:

Re: 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.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Transbot9 (user link) says:

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.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Bill says:

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.

Steve R. (profile) says:

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!!!

Tom (profile) says:

But did it really work?

Interestingly, some so-called content farm sites actually seem to have received a boost from the algorithm changes. 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.

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