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Hoping for an end to the green pastures on the content farm

Submitted by on Monday, 14 February 2011 No Comment

The latest out of Mountain View is news good enough to make me consider switching to Chrome.

According to Forbes, Google is creating an extension to its browser that would let users block sites from their search results. And Google’s looking at you,  “producers of low-quality, keyword-gaming content,” as Forbes describes them. Google will consider the results from Chrome users as “potential ranking signals,” which means such sites eventually could be labeled spammers.

Yes, it will be a happy day in my world when content farms such as eHow, Associated Content, Demand Studios, Suite101 et al are obliterated, if not from the face of the Earth, then at least from my Google search results.

It’s a personal and a professional issue for me.

Personally, I hate it when those garbage results junk up my searches. I ran into a stark example last week when I was looking for health information. I found the exact same article on two different content farms. That should have resulted in a “rank spank” – Google search results punishment for duplicate content – for both sites, but no one’s caught it. One article is the fifth search result; the other was the 11th.

One’s also on a site that made a big proclamation two years ago about its commitment to cleaning up plagiarism. I guess that commitment didn’t last long – the article was posted about a month after company officials pledged to crack down.

I searched again and found out that the “writer” also “works” for at least two more sites notorious for short, breezy pieces about topics conceived mainly because someone thinks they will drive search engine results, and thus clicks, and thus ad revenue. For the life of me I can’t figure out why – the writer claims to have a medical degree and it seems that there would be more money in that than in cranking out crap for $15 or so an article. I suppose it’s easier to make a buck when you’re double dipping on the same article.

Professionally, I hate it that content farms have helped devalue the worth of a profession where you used to be able to make a decent living. Not a generous one, mind you, but sustainable. Granted, $15 article is better than the nothing some sites offer – I’m looking at you, HuffPo – but it’s no where near what a writer should be worth in a decent-sized market.

So I’m giving Google a big amen on this one. And I might even download Chrome tomorrow.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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