Online search engines are meant to pick out high-quality sites amid the sea of knockoffs that repeat information produced elsewhere, but even they get overwhelmed. As recently as March, for example, the first 10 results from a Google search for
how to organise your desktop contained nine links to pages churned out by
content farms — Web sites that publish reams of articles that aim simply to attract clicks and advertising dollars.
That prompted New Scientist magazine to ask computer scientist Richard McCreadie at the University of Glasgow to look into the issue. The results show that Google and Microsoft’s Bing seem to be regaining the upper hand in the fight against content farms.
Most of the credit has been given to Google, which announced in February that it had updated its search algorithm in a bid to prioritise sites that publish original and well-researched material. It won’t provide details, but many site owners noticed that the update penalized sites that publish multiple, near identical articles, a favourite tactic of content farms — via redwolf.newsvine.com