ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Google Weeds Out "Content Farms"

Updated on February 26, 2011

Content Farms Under Fire

February 25, 2011

This morning Google announced that they have updated the algorithms used to search web-sites in an attempt to remove spurious entries from content farms.

Algorithms: In the computer sciences an algorithms is a effective method represented by a list of well defined functions to perform a particular task or procedure.

In this case an algorithm is a set of instructions designed to weed out or exclude sites that have copied or low quality  content from search results.

Content Farm: is a company that employs large numbers of writers to generate textual content. The aim is to satisfy search engine procedures (algorithms) in order to appear in the maximum number of search results; the aim to generate advertising revenue.

By Google's meaning of the term content farms have been specifically defined as sites that generate low quality content for the sole purpose of generating search engine hits.

As such HubPages falls well outside the bounds of such targeted sites.

Google Logo
Google Logo | Source

Google Begins Filtering Results

In January Google expressed its desire to hide from search results, those sites that generated "shallow" and "low-quality" sites for the sole purpose of driving ad revenue traffic.

Today Google claims to have done just that with a new algorithm that will affect nearly twelve (12%) of all search results in the U.S, but pushing to the bottom of search results, those sites specifically designed to gain high ranking scores with questionable content.

Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them,” writes Google’s webspam team on the Official Google Blog. “But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on.”

Google claims that the update does not simply push the low quality sites to the bottom of lists, it also promotes "high-quality" sites “original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis.”

Personal Ad Blocker
If you are a regular reader you know that I covered Google's latest add-on to Chrome, Personal Ad Blocker. Of course these block require the participation of sites that actually generate these ads, so the effectivness of this extenion has yet to be proven.

Validation of Effort
What Personal Ad Block also does is report back to Google about those sites that most users would rather not have show up in search results. Though this extension is somewhat new, Google claims that it has already helped the company zero in on eight-four (84%) percent of the top 12 sites blocked by users of the Chrome extension.

To clarify, Google did not use the Chrome extenion to help filter out Content Farm sites, but did use the information to verify that their new algorithm is doing what it was designed to do; block "garbage" content from search results.

Careful Wording
Google has been careful not to use the term "content farm" in describing what this new procedure does. Rather the search giant prefers to use phrases such as “low-quality” and "questionable content" to describe the targets of the new procedures.

Though Google is careful in it's use of terms, Matt Curtis, Google's head spam-fighter says:

I think people will get the idea of the types of sites we’re talking about.”

Examples of such sites include Associated Content and Demand Media. One of Demand Media's best known sites,, routinely copies others content and presents it as their own.

Considering the number of returns on most search results, a twelve percent change (downward of course) is a huge number. For example searching for the term "MacBook Pro" returns sixty-four million hits in Google. A twelve percent reduction could reduce that number to fifty-two million or a reduction of twelve million hits.


To my way of thinking this is long (long) overdue. The shear number of hits from any search term indicates that there needs to be a real and concerted "house-cleaning" of sites that represent themselves as one thing, yet present another.

Google, for its part, has not, nor will it likely, share what the actual code behind the content filter is. This makes perfect sense. If sites that provide "low-quality" content know how the new algorithm works, they can then work to circumvent it and that will put Google right back at "square one" as to filtering spurious content.

This is such a serious problem, in fact, that if another search engine came along that had a better handle on the problem, it could quickly bump Google from its top spot as defacto standard search engine.

Will Bing, Yahoo, and the other search engine providers follow? It is likely, but it will take time. Once again Google is one step ahead of the competition in this effort.


The author was not compensated in any way, monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.

Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.

The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.


Submit a Comment

  • brakel2 profile image

    Audrey Selig 

    4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Hi Liam - I remember the 2011 hit, and that was the beginning of the downfall in traffic to many hubs. Recently. Google prefers medical sites written by exceptional professionals, so that took away more sites. You say it was a good hit in 2011, but many writers here lost traffic I had a rebound after that, but in early 2013, another Panda must have come along. Thank you for explaining the 2011 Panda. I hope HubPages starts getting more traffic again, as these Pandas can do strange things at times. Blessings, Audrey

  • RachaelLefler profile image

    Rachael Lefler 

    7 years ago from Illinois

    I think hubpages will survive. The internet has a way of crying the sky is falling for X site every couple of years, but most of them survive.

  • kksonakiya profile image

    Krishnakant Sonakiya 

    7 years ago from Gwalior

    that looks like a huge step after so many pop out every day. Hope this help original content to grow, otherwise many new bloggers will not be able to get there site or blog as high as they think they will.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)