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'Content Farms' affect Google's ranking as a search engine

January 30, 2011

Tags: content farms, Google, search engines, Demand Media

"Google's reputation for uncanny accuracy has been dulled by 'content farm' sites that game its search system to boost the visibility of pages many readers say they don't want," writes Rob Pegoraro, in How 'content farms' beat Google, and what search engines should do about it (Fast Forward, Wash Post, 1-30-11). Writing for peanuts, many writers, photographers, videographers and editors are mass producing volumes of "posts that match up with common Google searches. In essence, Google has unintentionally been teaching to the test - and some of its students have learned all too well."

Firms like Demand Media crank out dreck that lands high on Google's search pages. As a result, writes Michael S. Rosenwald, in How you and Google are losing the battle against spam in search results (Wash Post Business, 1-30-11), savvy searchers are turning to social media like Twitter to get answers to their questions. But making social media useful as search engines introduces new issues, including privacy and security issues.

These two stories combined provide a fascinating glimpse into our clearly gameable (or would that be gamable?) new online world and into the nature of search engines.