Posts tagged content farms

For content farms, the Panda doesn’t play nice.

You can’t mess with Google forever. In February, the corporation concocted what it concocts best: an algorithm. The algorithm, called Panda, affects some 12 percent of searches, and it has — slowly and imperfectly — been improving things. Just a short time ago, the Web seemed ungovernable; bad content was driving out good. But Google asserted itself, and credit is due: Panda represents good cyber-governance. It has allowed Google to send untrustworthy, repetitive and unsatisfying content to the back of the class. No more A’s for cheaters.

For content farms, the Panda doesn’t play nice.

You can’t mess with Google forever. In February, the corporation concocted what it concocts best: an algorithm. The algorithm, called Panda, affects some 12 percent of searches, and it has — slowly and imperfectly — been improving things. Just a short time ago, the Web seemed ungovernable; bad content was driving out good. But Google asserted itself, and credit is due: Panda represents good cyber-governance. It has allowed Google to send untrustworthy, repetitive and unsatisfying content to the back of the class. No more A’s for cheaters.

soupsoup:

How Demand Media works.
Click here for larger format.

soupsoup:

How Demand Media works.

Click here for larger format.

Google Content Farms Itself, Removes Places from Search Results

Note that the move was only temporary but the story provides an interesting behind the scenes look at the Google Spam Team and its position within the company. Also note that this isn’t the first time that Google has done this to an internal property.

In early March it acquired BeatThatQuote.com for $60.8 million and within 24 hours penalized it for SEO tactics that violated Google webmaster terms and conditions.

Background via TechCrunch:

Power struggles within Google’s executive team, which have been brewing since the announcement of long time CEO Eric Schmidt’s departure, are apparently bubbling up to the surface.

Case in point: In an extraordinary move to illustrate its independence, say sources, the Google webspam team actually classified Google Places as spam and a content farm, and temporarily removed it from search results…

…The fact that many Place pages only contain content scraped from third party sites and little or no original content was a key factor in the automatic change, say sources. This has been a source of constant tension between Google and the sites they scrape.

The TechCrunch story gets colorful, with Google revenue chief Nikesh Arora cruising the Caribbean on Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt’s $40 million yacht named, appropriately enough, “The Adsense.”

Content farms are to online media what tabloids are to print. Neither journalism nor advertising, they are a trashy and addictive product, sussing out what we really want in order to give us something we don’t really need—and, in so doing, telling us something important about ourselves.

Annie Lowrey and Angela Tchou, Slate, Content Yawn: What content farms tell us about what we’re interested in.

Slate’s Chris Wilson and Angela Tchou created a bot that logged tags used on stories in Yahoo’s Associated Content. They harvested over a million tags across 250,000 stories.

As we walked among the pens, I saw once-proud Wikipedia articles with their references brutally amputated. I saw a scrawny post about cleaning silverware that was so infested with links that it was hard to tell where the content ended and the URIs began. Incomplete sentences huddled, shivering, waiting for a verb that would never arrive. It was obvious that few of the articles had even been edited, and none had seen the warm, clear light of a style guide.

Google’s Algorithm Update Zaps Content Farm Cash Cows

According to analysis conducted by German Web monitoring company Sistrix, the impacts of Google’s Farmer search algorithm update has been a dust bowl for crummy content cash cows. Though affecting just 12 percent of websites in the U.S., according to Google, the changes have been immediate and blistering.

Among the top 25 spam sites, a traffic decline in the high 70-percent range is not uncommon. Ten sites on the list saw their traffic decline by 90 percent or more once Google closed the tap.

One of the hardest hit sites was Associated Content, which Yahoo bought in May 2010 for $100 million. Traffic to the site is down 93 percent based on data from the Sistrix database, containing 1 Million tracked keywords.

One name that is not on the Sistrix list is Demand Media, a company who many view as the archetypal content farm.

Via: Quora

In the race to make money on the web, the intent and thoughtfulness behind content creation has been hijacked. A blogger’s intent to share an experience with her new digital camera has been replaced with the need to produce something, anything to match up to search terms for the purpose of serving ads. The result is higher velocity production of content to keep up with the flow of queries trending on Google. The outcome: hastily produced, low quality pages that are driven by the wrong motives.

When people say “Google is broken,” they’re really saying that Google has been fooled. We expect Google to sift through and separate content that is produced with “pure” motives and content that isn’t. Put differently: we want Google to prioritize and bump us up if we’re behaving like humans. If we’re behaving like machines, we should be punished for it.

Google, the governor of the web’s information, is being asked to get the house in order. We, its constituents, are demanding this icon of technological progress  be less technological and more respectful of our own humanity.

Of course, this isn’t Google’s fault. Just as it isn’t the fault of Hostess Cakes to sell highly processed snack foods. When technological advances are introduced, we become enamored with them. Eventually, we awake from the trance and seek out authenticity and purity. We’re growing sick of highly processed, artificially flavored stuff. We want the real deal.

We want more human and less machine.
Richard Ziade, Creator of Readability, The Automated Web and Us.

Don't Like Content Farms? There's an Extension for That

Responding to critiques that Content Farms are making its search results all sorts of spammy, Google released a Chrome extension Monday that lets users block certain sites while searching. Google plans to use that data to tweak its search algorithms.

Via the Google Blog:

We’ve been exploring different algorithms to detect content farms, which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. One of the signals we’re exploring is explicit feedback from users. To that end, today we’re launching an early, experimental Chrome extension so people can block sites from their web search results. If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.

Will be interesting to see if this grows into a trend across search engines and how that will effect investor excitement over the business models of the Demand Medias and Associated Contents of the world.

Google Strikes Back

Via Wired:

In a move that internet content creators have been dreaming about for years, web search giant Google has moved to crack down on spammy and derivative content that has been largely copied from other sources on the web and which somehow manages to bubble higher in results than the original.

Anyone who’s ever written a word on the internet and seen it ripped off and posted elsewhere will appreciate this move.

On the other hand, companies who traffic in low-quality content in the hope that by littering the internet with search-driven mediocrity they’ll generate enough advertising revenue to be a going concern, should be concerned.

Demand Media’s shares fell six percent Friday… Just sayin’.

If Demand Media Ran The New York Times

On the day of Demand Media’s $1.5 Billion Wall Street IPO, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land applies the content farm’s SEO-heavy editorial techniques to the front page of The New York Times.

One of the secrets to Demand Media’s success is paying close attention to what people are searching for and then writing articles to serve to order, especially articles it think will generate lots of ad revenue.

A real New York Times “Demand Media” edition probably wouldn’t have stories about Italy’s government or the Roman Catholic Church’s dispute with a Phoenix hospital. But the stories would probably be slanted toward answering questions, certainly. Indeed, the stories might largely be generated from what people are searching for, rather than what’s happening. Let the queries dictate what news to report!

Of course, that’s not a future I’d like to see. It’s something that gives many people chills, even if it’s already in practice in places like Yahoo News, which closely watches search traffic to determine what to write.

In reality, a smart news publication would be doing both news coverage and “answers coverage,” repurposing its existing content into the type of high quality answers that people are really seeking.

Foursquare Partners with Content Farm Examiner.Com to Add News and Reviews to User Checkins

The singularity draws nearer as two of the Web’s hottest trends—location-based services and hyperlocal content, merge, with a new tieup between Foursquare and Examiner.com.

In essence, Examiner’s 68,000 contributors, known as “Examiners,” will provide reviews and recommendations on nearby venues, restaurants, events, businesses and landmarks that will surface within the Foursquare mobile app when users following Examiner.com check in. Local tips will also be added when non-followers check-in nearby.

While content farms like Examiner.com flood the Internet with keyword optimized stories of  variable quality, Foursquare has been pegged as an acquisition target for group deals sites like Groupon, which could then offer users targeted deals based on their location.