Using Google to Find Good Web Content
Over the weekend, search engine giant Google decided to tweak its algorithm so that search results would produce better content. The goal of this shift was to make good content rise in the search rankings and bad, spammy and unhelpful websites that rely on “black hat” SEO practices drop back a few pages: Great news for Internet users; Terrible news for “content mills”.
“Black hat” SEO (search engine optimization) refers to shady and unethical practices for driving traffic to a website. Many content sites, such as WiseGeek, EZine Articles, Suite 101 and Associated Content, that pay writers on revenue share engage in some of these practices by creating extremely similar pages or impostor sites to drive backlinks to their content. All of these took a serious hit after the algorithm change. This tweak is a great thing for web content, though. Content sites need to improve their quality if they want to remain relevant and that will be good for them, good for their users and good for the Internet in general.
Most users who are searching for answers or how-to articles online are very specific in their queries. They don’t want to type in “how to cook a turkey” and get a ton of results that simply use a combination of those words in text or tags and have literally nothing helpful to offer about the subject. They want to see video clips showing qualified people demonstrating how to actually cook a turkey or read clear, concise tutorials about how to do it themselves.
Sensing this trend, some content sites have already begun to shift away from writer-generated articles. Mahalo.com’s CEO Jason Calacanis gave a keynote speech detailing his company’s move to presenting content from credentialed experts, instead of freelance writers. Demand Media’s CEO Richard Rosenblatt defended his company’s content, saying that they consider themselves “very white hat” (above board in SEO practices) and that they are removing duplicate content from their sites to comply with Google’s change. Whether these adjustments will help them regain their standing in the eyes of Google’s spiders or not remains to be seen.
In the meantime, there is still helpful content out in the wild blue yonder of the Internet, even some good content on the sites mentioned above. The best way to find it, though, is to be very specific in searches and then to evaluate the website’s appearance. Sites that are ad-heavy, revenue-share based or unprofessional are probably not going to provide great information.
Image c/o: Vishraval