Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Google's Content Farming: Good for Consumers or Good for PR?

In another significant search announcement yesterday, Google said it was revising its algorithm to target makers of low-quality content.

The search giant has been criticized by many of late for the presence of too much spam in its results, which degrades the consumer experience on the powerful site.

Thus, “pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking–a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries,” said Google in a blog post.

The company continued:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality site–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.”

Who Google is aiming at is unclear–some point to Demand Media, whose top exec recently said the content company welcomed any improvements to the search results in its recent quarterly call.

“We consider ourself very white hat,” declared CEO Richard Rosenblatt, who has often touted the Demand’s good relations with Google, to a question from a Wall Street analyst about the series of recent declarations by Google to clean up its search results.

That was further underscored yesterday.

Interestingly, the Google post about the changes, titled “Finding More High-Quality Sites,” was authored by Google’s Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts–who have cut a high profile of late in the search arena.

Both Singhal and Cutts were quite vocal recently in loopy accusations about Microsoft’s Bing lifting Google’s search results.

And Cutts has been a frequent visitor to Washington, D.C. of late, to defend Google over its controversial acquisition of the ITA Software flight information company, as well as its search ranking process.

At a January 13 meeting, in an email obtained by BoomTown, Cutts was the draw:

Please join us!

You’re invited to learn

How Google’s Search Engine Works

Myth-busting and Q&A for House/Senate staff members

with

Matt Cutts

Principal Search Engineer, Google

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2:30 – 3:30 PM

House Visitor Center Room 201

How does Google’s search engine really work? Can websites pay Google to improve their ranking in Google results? What’s the difference between the “natural” results and the ads on the right hand side? And why does a particular website rank #1 or #3 when you do a Google search for your boss’ name? You’re invited to join Matt Cutts, one of Google’s top search engine engineers and the company’s ambassador to webmasters for a session on Capitol Hill where Matt will explain how Google ranks websites, address common myths about Google’s search results, and answer your questions. Please join us!

In another invite, low-quality content was the topic:

Matt Cutts is one of Google’s top search engineers who heads up the team ensuring that spam and low-quality sites don’t game search results. He is going to be here in DC to talk with folks around town about some of the recent calls for government to police or regulate the “fairness” of search results. Matt is a bit of a rock star in the search world and spends a lot of time speaking and blogging about these issues. Basically he’ll talk about how Google goes about ranking websites, how his team fights webspam, and he’ll provide a closer look at sites like Foundem and MyTriggers (who have filed antitrust actions against Google).

Finally, he’ll talk about the recent calls by some for Google’s search results to be regulated.

Perhaps I’m being cynical, but the noisy search algorithm changes, while welcome to those using Google, also have a pretty clear goal to burnish the Silicon Valley company’s image.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work