Can Google weed out the content farms?

Google is trying to figure out a tweak for its search algorithm that will stop junk web sites — “content farms” — from achieving high search rankings, according to a great article in Technology Review.

In the Review, Tom Simonite wrote: “Speaking this week at Farsight 2011, a one-day event in San Francisco on the future of search, the firm’s (Google’s) principal search engineer, Matt Cutts, said that Google is considering tweaks to the algorithms that guide its search results. It’s also considering more radical tactics, such as letting users blacklist certain sites from the results they see.”

This is going to be a very big issue. Marketing departments and the people who design and maintain their web sites center their efforts on search engine optimization. High ranks in Google search results are worth money – a load of money since advertisers pay by the click. We’ve all seen worthless sites that have learned to game the search algorithm and deliver junk content. Some are so bad they’re almost a form of click fraud. It is possible to go through dozens of these in the course of a search before you find a site that actually gives you some significant information on the topic you’re searching for.

I suspect it isn’t going to be an easy “tweak” to make. The crappy sites will continue to tweak their content to evade the changes so they continue to make money on the clicks.

Tom Kelchner is Research Center Manager at Sunbelt Software. Tom is a communications professional with extensive background in computer security, anti-virus application testing and computer virus analysis. He is a former daily newspaper reporter and deputy press secretary to governor of Pennsylvania.