Improved Google Spam Filter?

Submitted by tomo on February 26, 2011 - 10:08pm

Google, in response to the flood of recent concern about spam/content farms showing up in their results, have just announced a big change in their system of algorithms which calculate page rankings. They had previously published a Chrome plugin that lets you manually block results, and Google says the new algorithm blocks some 84% of the same sites that people were blocking with the plugin. I guess some people were controversially blocking non-spammy sites, rather than guess that Google's algorithm isn't good enough. Or isn't it?

Matt Cutts, the main anti-spam guy at Google, says the new algorithm change affects 11.8% of queries. Since the change is only effective in the US right now and I can browse from both Vietnam and the US, we can compare results and some one in eight queries should be improved.

So I tested "dog shampoo" out of the blue. I have never had a dog because I think they smell.

In Vietnam, high ranking results included drnaturalvet.com which had a low quality page of filler about dog shampoo and dogshampoo.info which is clearly a made-for-adsense site. In the US, the drnaturalvet link is much lower, but dogshampoo.info maintains the same high position. A link to content farm ehow.com is also lower now. And a link to dogshampoo.co.uk, a made-for-adsense site with nothing about dog shampoo at the time of indexing (see cache) is now gone too.

A search for winrar came up with fairly similar results in either country, and both maintained links to spam sites like software.informer.com.

A search for "tightvnc server authentication successful closed connection" punished duplicate content site pinoytech.org slightly but another duplicate/copy site efreedom.com maintained its position in the top 20. Both copy the StackExchange site SuperUser.com.

So it seems that the new algorithm change is an improvement, but I don't think it goes far enough to filter spammy results. While it may be a slight setback for those guys, they are still in the running and will be emboldened to try to rank higher.

There may still be a need for users to crowdsource a database of filtered spam sites until further algorithm improvements.

Note: The Atlantic did a similar test from India on "is botox safe" and "drywall dust" and found their results to be much improved.

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