How many times have you searched for something in any search engine only to click through to a page that was a confusing mess of garbage? These nonsensical sites are what marketers call “parked sites” or “spam” and are created at “content farms.” The tactics and technologies that help create these types of sites are endless, but they all have one main goal – the long tail click.
Content farms assemble random strings of text or scrape and repost actual content from other sites in an effort to appear prominently in Google (or other search engine) results for when you search a certain phrase. When you click, the ads on that spam-like site get an impression, which represent money for the content farm. Because clicks to each of these individual sites are minimal, content farms must produce a massive breadth of these sites in order to create a mass of impressions that make their revenue model function – this mass of garbage sites results in wasted time for users and marketers.
Google’s announcement means that they are opening up a powerful new offensive in their war against spam results and content farms. Google clarifies the need for the exclusion of these sites, citing that the change “noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries,” or one in ten searches on Google!
Google’s announcement is not only important for those companies focused on search engine optimization, but also, critically, to social media. In the same fashion that you and I use Google to find content, marketers are also using technologies such as Radian6 to seek relevant social media conversations online. Both search engine and social media search tactics use queries and both return the same spam-like, irrelevant content. A victory over spam for Google will likely soon translate into improved accuracy and efficacy for social media analytics, as the incentive for content farms to produce noise is greatly reduced. If Google is successful at killing the revenue model for content farms, the amount of irrelevant, computer generated content marketers encounter while analyzing social media conversations will be greatly reduced.
While social media technologies are getting better at identifying and omitting spam-like content, they still have a long way to go. Meanwhile, only the human analyst can identify a spam-like site as many content farms have become sophisticated at creating sites that appear genuine.
Have you noticed the change?