Google in February instituted sweeping changes to its search algorithm to more effectively combat the growing problem of content farms and spam links populating search results. In the wake of those changes, some domains saw a huge decrease in Google search traffic, with Mahalo and Associated Content seeing their domains drop significantly down on Google’s search results.
Google has unequivocally stated that it will not manually remove domains even if it’s overwhelmingly clear that a site is draped in shady SEO strategies. For you see, Google is an engineering company and their goal is to create a search algorithm so refined that there’s absolutely no need to manually adjust anything. A noble, albeit unrealistic, goal – but the problem is that spammy websites are always one step ahead of Google, leaving the search giant perpetually playing catchup to sites looking to make quick and easy money off of adsense.
One search engine that takes a different approach to search is Blekko. Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta recently sat down with Business Insider and explained why he feels Google’s algorithm update is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
First, Skrenta says that Google’s algo update did nothing aside from “reshuffle the deck.” In other words, spammy domains still appear in search results, they just may have slipped from page 1 to page 2, or sometimes further down the list but still on page 1. Blekko, on the other hand, indexes the entire web just like any other search engine, but has curators that check the quality of the engine’s results and can mark them as spam if warranted. The result is that bad sites are completely removed from Blekko’s index.
BI: How do you get rid of those sites?
RS: On other side, we have a little “spam” link under each result. You can mark a site as spam and it will take that site out of results for all searches going forward.
We recently used the spam links and tallied up the top 20 most hated sites on the Internet. eHow is actually number three. Experts Exchange is number one. You search on a technical question and it looks like they have the answer. Then you click through and get a pop-up asking you to pay $30.
So we banned it.
But 20 sites is a drop in the ocean. So two weeks ago, rolled out an algorithmic identification of spam. We looked for intersection of low-value content and aggressive participation in online ad networks. So if there are a bunch of ads on the page, or a bunch of sites all running same ads with the same IDs, and the content doesn’t look good to our classifiers. we put you on the list. We got rid of over 1.1 million sites that way.
These aren’t headscratchers — eHow can have a debate about whether they’re valuable or not, but you look at this stuff, it’s “oh my god, it’s obviously junk.” The quantity was astonishing to us, so we blew them all out of our index, and we’re very happy with that.
We hadn’t heard of Blekko before but gave their search engine a quick run through. As far as we can tell it’s pretty good, but it’s hard to compete with what Google brings to the table. And sure, Google may be a quick step behind the spammers, but it has a motivated team dedicated to ensuring top quality search results. So, we won’t be turning to Blekko anytime soon (the power of Google is too great!) but it’s nice to see some competition in a space that is now synonymous with Google.