Google roots out content farms

What is a content farm and what does it do?  ” … create a ton of niche, mostly uninspired content targeted to search engines, then make it viral through social software and make lots of money through ads.  In December 2009  Richard MacManus published Content Farms: Why Media, Blogs & Google Should Be Worried. That article and his earlier ones struck a chord with me as I had been witnessing low-quality content in search results.

Well , the good news is that Google has announced an algorithm change that commences in the U.S. only to start and then will roll it out out from there.  I’m encouraged by this turn of events and think my readers will be too.

matts cutts tweet

Google says this change isn’t a result of feedback gained from last week’s launch of the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, but also says the algorithmic change addresses 84% the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension. They have been working on this for some time now.

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. —  Finding more high-quality sites in search

Below are some early responses:

Danny Sullivan:

While Google has come under intense pressure in the past month to act against content farms, the company told me that this change has been in the works since last January. —  Google Forecloses On Content Farms With “Farmer” Algorithm Update

Michael Arrington:

What are those sites? Google isn’t saying. But the changes are designed to weed out low-value content, they say, such as content copied from other websites or non-useful content. That means sites like Demand Media, Associated Content and Mahalo are likely on the list. In a couple of months traffic data to those sites will likely confirm that they were impacted. —  Google Targets Content Farms With Major Search Algorithm Tweaks

8 thoughts on “Google roots out content farms

  1. I’m so glad this is happening because I’ve certainly noticed those sites and am fed up with seeing them at the top and finding nothing in them…I had no idea what they really were though…just knew that they were repetitious and useless!

    1. There are many bloggers who publish on more than one site. In most cases they are motivated to do so because they can place advertising on the duplicated content sites and profit from doing so. Many of the articles contain plagiarized material as well. Some bloggers simply submit the same articles to multiple content farms. Their motivation is to game search engine results by gaining backlinks from multiple sites to their own site all based on the same articles. As a person who earns an income from research and writing I am cheering Google on. The sooner they get rid the no quality, low quality, and duplicate content appearing in the SERPs the better.

  2. Interesting. I know a writer for answer.com. She mentions it in her bio. Obviously she doesn’t know…

    Maybe a long time ago answer.com did have original content but got watered down.

    1. I do believe that many of those who publish on big content farms and then water down the original article they have already been paid for and replicate it on other sites are aware of what they are doing. I also believe that Google has made it clear for a year now that they were preparing to act to adjust their algorithm to eliminate replicated and duplicated low quality content. There will be gnashing of teeth as the income these big sites receive from advertisers is enormous.

  3. ‘Morning Timethief! Another interesting post. It always stretches my brain a bit, reading your posts, as I am very much a user and not much of a thinker about the Internet.

    I am not so au fait with the language, are content farms those places that just take bits of posts and repost them with links back to the source, sort of look like a newspaper in layout? There’s various ones that use Twitter too like that, which I have noticed recently, they look for hash tags and then reprint the blog posts linked to them and often credit the wrong person for the post. So I found my name attached to someone else’s post who I knew because I had retweeted their post. I don’t think they enhance the internet so it will be good if they are downgraded by the search engines. (I hope I’ve understood this correctly :) )

    1. What Google is going after is not what you describe. They are going after big content farms that have many writers who target keywords and produce content of low value or of no value. The content farm sites are huge and make millions from the advertising. Demand Media and Answers.com are now firmly inside the top 20 Web properties in the U.S., on a par with the likes of Apple and AOL. Demand Media produces 4,000 pieces of content a day and it floods the SERPs (search engine page results). Have you ever noticed how many low quality eHow articles and Associated content articles and Suite 101 articles are returned in search results? Have you noticed low quality content duplicated on multiple other sites? That’s what this is all about.

      1. ‘Have you ever noticed how many low quality eHow articles and Associated content articles and Suite 101 articles are returned in search results?’

        I don’t think I have, maybe I scan google results very selectively, I am a speed/scan reader, and am very good at blanking out irrelevant hits. I will look without my ‘own filters’ next time and see if I see what you see :D

        Thank you for taking the time to expand on this for me, much appreciated.

        1. There are many who write as a means of earning income. When I am researching topics I often see the same articles published on the big content farm sites only to find they have duplicated that content and it can be found on multiple sites. This is an annoyance when using search as we are looking for original and unique material, and it’s being loss in a sea of duplicated or replicated content. As search engines aim to provide the most relevant, fresh and highest quality content in search results Google is moving to reduce the loe quality duplicated and replicated content in search results, and I ‘m cheering them on.

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