You don’t use Google because it’s “Google”. You use “Google” because it offers relevant and meaningful results.
Back in the year 2000 – web search was largely dominated by short web queries and the results were very “generalized”, users had to click through multiple links until they were able to find the exact webpage they were looking for. The search volume was fairly low, hence the requirement for a polished algorithm was not laid forward.
Then came Google and web search took a significant turn in it’s “relevancy”, “exactness” and “value”. Google changed the way folks used to find content, people started writing blogs, created information and Google organized all the information in their “index”.
The sad part – Newton’s third law of motion holds true universally.
The reaction: Google’s way of ranking webpages was huge, so big that it gave birth to a giant search marketing industry. The welcome mat for SEO Firms was laid out, which consequently gave birth to content farms, aggregators and scraped websites. Their entire goal of producing content is from the outside in – find the phrases which are profitable, judge the competition, gain a good amount of links and make your way to the SERP’s.
In recent times, there has been much speculation on the way Google search is populated with content aggregators and AdSense scraped websites. TechCrunch, Venture Beat and other tech blogs have put down their observations earlier.
It’s not that only we are saying this. Jeff Atwood from Coding Horror recently nailed down their observations
In 2010, our mailboxes suddenly started overflowing with complaints from users complaints that they were doing perfectly reasonable Google searches, and ending up on scraper sites that mirrored Stack Overflow content with added advertisements. Even worse, in some cases, the original Stack Overflow question was nowhere to be found in the search results!
Why Do Content Aggregators Beat The Source In Search Results ?
Let’s take a look on the factors that influence the ranking of a webpage in search results.
Google says that there are more than 200 signals but practice shows that the most important factors which determine whether you page is going to rank well or not are:
1. The quality of the content
2. Number and authority of the links to your content.
3. The Title Of the page.
Let’s say you wrote an informative article on “iPhone cases” and published it on your blog. Since “iPhone cases” is a profitable phrase, this will alert the content aggregators, link farms and scraper sites running AdSense ads. These guys have set up Google Alerts and other ways to get instant notifications whenever a phrase they are targeting, gets found by Google.
They come to your blog, copy an excerpt from your article, publish a new post on their “Aggregation channels” with a link back to your post.
You think it’s cool? ” “Hey Mike, I just got a backlink from xyz.com they have 60,000 RSS readers. I am famous !”
Yes, a lot of people will read your thought but not on your blog. The majority will read it on the “Aggregation channel”.
Since a large portion of the blogosphere is paying attention to that Aggregation channel, who do you think is going to attract more links?
As soon as the scraped post hits an “Aggregation channel”, a huge number of blogs will start linking to them (not you). They have an enormous amount of social media subscribers, Twitter followers, newsletter readers and getting 6 dozen backlinks to their own article is child’s play.
Yes, you have written that 900 word article but that doesn’t qualify your post to be linked from other sites. Social media influences search rankings and these content aggregators use huge social media influence to dominate SERP’s.
Conrad Sam from Search Engine Land performed an internal study on profitable keywords, in order to find out which search engine (Google or Bing) returns relevant results. The SEL team followed this convention:
- 5 points were awarded for a good quality result ranking first, 3 for second and 1 for third.
- 2 bonus points were added for top 3 results being on a highly authoritative site.
- 5 points were subtracted if the entire first page didn’t contain any good results.
It’s no wonder that Google is losing it’s ground on relevancy and exactness. Richard MacManus from Read Write Web puts an interesting comment on why blogs and search engines need to embrace a “change”
I can only hope that Google and other search engines find better ways to surface quality content, for its own sake as well as ours. Because right now Google is being infiltrated on a vast scale by content farms.
That pretty much sums it up. Google has been promoting leechers more than the actual publishers and we ourselves have been victim of this problem. You can read more about it on this post.
What is your opinion of the quality of search results in Google? Are you happy with them? Do you think that they need to improve? Are you a victim of RSS scrapers? Don’t forget to tell me your thoughts through your comments.