Google embraces porn in search results

We’ve noticed over the past several months that Google seems to be giving even more weight to porn sites over mainstream sites when tame search terms like “Hot Babes” or “Hot Blondes” are used. Instead of featuring mainstream sites that have bikini and lingerie models like Maxim, you end up with hard core porn sites.

What’s going on here? Google has outsmarted itself, and now the search results are a complete mess.

  

Google’s flaws lead to Huffington’s huge payday and Demand Media’s IPO

The Huffington Post sold for $315 to AOL this week, and Demand Media recently completed an IPO. In many ways, these events validate the strategy of gaming the system. Google is a beast that can be gamed, and both these operations did it very well.

HuffPo is notorious for hysterical headlines and their lefty slant, but they were also very well organized and filled a void in the marketplace. In many ways they deserve their success. But, a big part of their success has to do with gaming Google’s search results. Their editors find interesting stories, do a post on it with a link back, but HuffPo usually gets all the search traffic. The other sites usually don’t complain, because links from HuffPo provide really good traffic as well.

Demand Media also fills a void, as they use their own algorithm to find potential search results that need to be filled with content. Then they pay know-nothing writers (well, I guess some of them know what they are writing about) to create a short article covering the topic. AOL is even trying to copy the strategy. Many now refer to sites like Demand Media as content mills, and Google might be addressing the issue, but Demand Media has already scored their IPO and Google’s search results are littered with lame content at the top.

Gaming the system pays.

  

Google and the content farms

A recent blog post from Google discusses renewed efforts to take on spam in the search results, but also goes on to say that Google will try to address the issue of content farms.

As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content. We take pride in Google search and strive to make each and every search perfect. The fact is that we’re not perfect, and combined with users’ skyrocketing expectations of Google, these imperfections get magnified in perception. However, we can and should do better.

The issue of content farms has been in the news even more lately as Demand Media expands its growth and tries to complete an IPO. There are scores of articles covering the strategy, and you can start with this article on TechCrunch from Ashkan Karbasfrooshan from WatchMojo.com as he addresses the quality and cost issues of online content. We also addressed the issue back in 2009 when we addressed AOL’s strategy to emulate Demand Media.

Hopefully, Google is serious about this. There’s no reason a short article on a subject written by an unknown teenager for $10 should be #1 in Google ranking just because it’s posted on a URL owned by AOL or Demand Media.

  

Google vs. Facebook

The battle between Google and Facebook is heating up. Google is working on “Google Me” – a social network alternative to Facebook. This article explains some of the perceived threats. It really boils down to a battle between two of the biggest titans on the web, and the decisions of these two companies will have huge implications on how we use it going forward.

Google has already had a dud with Google Buzz, and it seems clear that they don’t understand the concept of social networking. They understand math and algorithms, but they seem to have little understanding of how humans interact with one another. They seem to avoid human input at all costs, always trying to solve problems with an algorithm.

We’ve seen this with some of the heavy-handed tactics used by Google with users of services like Google Adsense. If Google perceives a problem with an account, that account is shut down automatically, and the user is forced to endure a bureaucratic as they implore Google to restore their account.

If Google wants to compete in the social network space, they will need a team that understands this very different environment.

Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly on “lockdown” as Zuckerberg rallies his team to deal with the coming threat.

  

Google search tips

I found some good tips on this list. Get more Google search tips here and here.

  

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