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Concern over search algorithms promoting ‘content farm’ news

August 24th, 2010Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism, Search

The ability of search engine algorithms to measure the relevance and quality of content has come under scrutiny recently, following criticisms that Google is placing so called ‘content farm’ articles at the top of news searches.

Emma Heald writes on the EditorsWebLog that where SEO content directly competes with news content there is “cause for concern”, both for news publishers and the wider issue of public knowledge.

But the challenge of ensuring online news search results are based on relevant and ‘quality’ sources should be one taken up by the news aggregators, rather than content farms, which have a place in the online arena, she adds.

Evidently, content farms cannot and should not be stopped from producing large volumes of content and it arguably makes a lot of sense to provide internet users with articles on topics which they are searching for. And not all the content is bad: some is written by experienced, conscientious journalists. Traditional news organisations should focus on improving their own SEO (though not at the expense of the content) and if it is to retain its position as a top news aggregator, maybe Google’s algorithm should become more discerning?

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  • Steve

    Maybe instead of placing content farms high up in the search rankings, Google should fill more of that 1st results page space with Google News indexed posts. Not only is the information more current and timely – especially considering content farms write “timeless” evergreen articles – but also because Google vets approved GN website a little closer than other types of websites.

    So even though there are some poor quality sites indexed in Google News (likely having degraded quickly after getting their initial acceptance to be indexed by GN), Google still seems to purge those out more often than they do sites that show up in the regular organic search results.

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