Google Alters Algorithm for Content Farms

Kevin Getch Written by
Kevin Getch
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Farmer Bill Have you heard of content farms? Well, it’s a name that those companies despise, as one might suspect, since it has a bit of a negative connotation. But good or bad, content farms are a hot topic and potentially the wave of the future for how content is dispensed online.

A content farm is a company that employs a boat load of freelance writers to produce heaping amounts of content in any number of subjects. Companies like Demand Media follow trends on Google and other search engines and dispense article ideas accordingly.

There’s a whole philosophical and ethical debate that can be had here. But like it or not, content farms are here to stay. Then again, how relevant they are can be easily manipulated by the search engines themselves.
Websites like eHow, Wise Geek, Answer.com and others effectively beat out competition to reach the top of rankings for tons of topics. The problem that Google and others have with content farms is that they are more about quantity than quality. Think of it as a bit like the processed food industry. It’s low cost, high volume output in order to maximize advertising dollars.

But why would Google care, you ask? They care because what comes up in their searches reflects well or badly on them. If someone does a search on how to replace their car’s fan belt, should the top searches come from people in the auto industry, or Joe Blow who wrote an article for $5 the other day for a little extra spending money?

So, as a result Google has made changes to its almighty algorithm in order to push low-quality content (presumably this includes content farms) down in search results. The algorithm change only impacts Google search results in the United States, but about 12 percent of that search. They say they will spread these changes to other countries at a later date.

“It’s impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term,” says Larry Fitzgibbon, Demand Media’s EVP of Media and Operations. “But at this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our content and media business.”

The algorithm change comes just a couple weeks after Google launched the Personal Blocklist extension for its Chrome browser. This feature allows users to manually block websites that they don’t want to see show up in their Google search results.

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