How Google and market forces are making us STUPID

January 7, 2011

From the moment people realized the value of being in top of Google search results, the battle between Google and scammers started. Google has been fighting well, adjusting its ranking algorithm all the time. Also, Google taught us that it is vital that every page of your site contains relevant, information rich content. Content is the most important part of your google ranking.

Well, what Google forced scammers into is the worst informational nightmare: scammers learned how to create real content on the cheap and on the scale. They build content farms, like Demand Media with tens of thousands “writers” that produce hundreds of thousands crap articles like this or this or this. If you are lazy to click the links, I will spell out the last one for you: How to Practice Doga With a Dog Who Won’t Sit Still. Doga is yoga for dogs in case you didn’t know.

Dilbert.com

The problem with these articles is that they are very legitimate content produced by humans, and most of the time it is very hard to tell that the information inside is inaccurate or utterly false. So Google likes them and provide them with top rankings, thus throwing all this junk into the people doing searches.

As a result, Google has become a jungle again: a tropical paradise for spammers and marketers. Almost any innocent search takes you to websites that want you to click on links that make them money, or to sponsored sites that make Google money.

Most of the writers know pretty well what’s going on. For example, one of them said: “I was completely aware that I was writing crap. I was like, ‘I hope to God people don’t read my advice on how to make gin at home because they’ll probably poison themselves.’ “Never trust anything you read on eHow.com,” she said, referring to one of Demand Media’s high-traffic websites.

Why did she do it? She just graduated from prestigious journalism program, and it was an easy way for her to make money. Even though some people claim to make several thousands dollars a month through this junk-writing, the highest price for articles is about $15 a piece. There are bigger offers out there, like this one for $205, but there are always strings attached. With AOL, they might not publish your article at all, for example if someone else wrote it before you, and you have no way of knowing that until they refuse the publication.

Why do the companies do it? It’s a lucrative and growing business. Demand Media for example is planning for IPO in 2011. Others, like Examiner.com or Suite 101 are growing like weed, claiming to have over 50,000 “writers” each.

At the end, it is the market forces that created these content farms that poison the web with thousands articles a day, written by people who have no clue about what they are writing. And unless Google stops rewarding these crap creators, there is no way of ending this madness.

Dilbert.com


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