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This 81 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 81 ( 1 [2] 3 > >     
Adsense and low quality "sewer" sites
Inspired by a few threads below.
gethan




msg:1326043
 9:21 am on Jun 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

A <low quality "sewer"> site had the URL posted here about a week ago; since snipped (rightly). Now I reported this site to see what would happen, as I imagine many others did too.

Now:

- adsense still runs on the front page (before on every page)
- the "content" pages now run redirects to other sites - mostly gambling.
- the content is still just a huge pile of computer generated/stolen crap.

I'm very surprised that the front page still has ad's, no response from google to my complaint. I had also hoped that some kind of minimum quality of the site as a whole, would be required from google in order to be part of the adsense program - *sigh* - this doesn't appear to be the case.

I think one fundemental problem with adsense is the use of publisher id's rather than accepting and reviewing domains individually, OK so they avoid the problem of millions of domains to review - but the quality of sites that run adsense now is sometimes so low it's truely unbelievable.

Additionally - this type of site does impact revenue for the better quality sites in the program. The budgets of advertisers are used up on the sewer sites, leading to less money available for the quality sites. How can this be a good thing?

We all have different opinions as to what constitutes quality, some advertisers claim that it doesn't matter in any way except cost per conversion. But adsense on sewer sites will damage the programs longterm reputation - quality sites will move away from adsense to either the competition or to other forms of advertising. Adsense and it's format will become ubiquitous with low quality dross - this will mean lowered returns for those in the program - and so on. Hopefully the long term success of the adsnse program is important to google and they will start to operate more rigorous quality control on the sites in the program now.

Opinions?

[edited by: Jenstar at 5:17 pm (utc) on June 15, 2004]
[edit reason] corrected keyword [/edit]

 

europeforvisitors




msg:1326073
 5:44 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Imagine two stores. They both Widgets. One is a nice store with friendly clerks. The other is a terribly run down store with rude clerks. Do you think Widgets, Inc. cares at which store the widget was sold?

Actually, many companies are very picky about their dealer networks--and about their advertising venues.

The question should be how does it affect Adsense and its publishing partners?

And, just as important, how it affects Google--not just Google AdSense, but Google as a whole.

walrus




msg:1326074
 6:09 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

A <low quality "sewer"> site had the URL posted here about a week ago; since snipped (rightly). Now I reported this site to see what would happen, as I imagine many others did too.

I have pointed Google to a few really odd sites keyword spamming , and a few that surpassed the family filters.Replies from Google they'd look into it but nothing ever changed except the ones that were family filter issues didnt show up again.This showed me they actually do follow up on suggestions........but....
I think perhaps many web site developers work at Google,Yahoo and MSN, so there will always be a few rubber websites.

PS,whack-a-mole? stapled to a dead fish?
LOL! I love this place!
Makes me wonder what other animal abuse can be used as a metaphor.

HughMungus




msg:1326075
 7:37 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Actually, many companies are very picky about their dealer networks--and about their advertising venues.

I think most people are able to differentiate between someone selling a product and the product itself. From my previous example, if someone at the store selling you a widget is rude to you, you don't complain to the widget manufacturer or wholesaler.

Macro




msg:1326076
 7:51 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

if someone at the store selling you a widget is rude to you, you don't complain to the widget manufacturer or wholesaler

I wish that were the case. Oh, how I wish that was really true. Customers are a whacky bunch;). One wrote in to say that we shouldn't allow "Chinese" people to sell our products. <sigh> It was a three page letter! :(

europeforvisitors




msg:1326077
 8:07 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think most people are able to differentiate between someone selling a product and the product itself. From my previous example, if someone at the store selling you a widget is rude to you, you don't complain to the widget manufacturer or wholesaler.

Forgive me, but I'm having a little trouble understanding what your example has to do with the topic of this thread. We aren't talking about retailers: We're talking about ad venues.

The person who began this thread stated:

Hopefully the long term success of the adsnse program is important to google and they will start to operate more rigorous quality control on the sites in the program now.

Others seem to believe that quality control is irrelevant, and that Google is unlikely to care where AdSense ads run. In reality, Google does care where ads run; if it didn't, publishers wouldn't have their sites vetted by AdSense when joining, and the AdSense program policies wouldn't have restrictions on where ads can be used.

In the end, it really doesn't matter what you or I think about computer-generated sitescraper pages and other "content spam." We can only speculate on whether Google will welcome such pages, discourage their use, or remain neutral. But one thing is obvious to anyone who's been watching Google for a while, and that's the fact that Google doesn't make (or at least doesn't implement) decisions on such matters overnight. A window of opportunity is now open for the content spammers, and there's no doubt that many entrepreneurs are rushing to take advantage of it while they can.

loanuniverse




msg:1326078
 8:16 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

...and there's no doubt that many entrepreneurs are rushing to take advantage of it while they can.

I would like to add that actions such as those undertaken by Macro should help to close that window. If it weren't for the fact that I am really busy, I would go do some hunting in my log for a scalp myself.

mquarles




msg:1326079
 8:24 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Others seem to believe that quality control is irrelevant, and that Google is unlikely to care where AdSense ads run. In reality, Google does care where ads run; if it didn't, publishers wouldn't have their sites vetted by AdSense when joining, and the AdSense program policies wouldn't have restrictions on where ads can be used.

I agree, but the question is what exactly it is about the ads the Google wants to monitor. If it's only conversion rate, these sites may be around for a long time. If it's also aesthetics, they won't. Their terms of service certainly would lead one to believe that they care about more than conversion rate.

MQ

gethan




msg:1326080
 8:44 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

EFV: I agree - I think google are smart enough to realise that this is a problem, and that they will do it in a algorithm based way. I just hope it's sooner rather than later - and a statement acknowledging a problem and stating that they intend to solve it would make me feel better.

But then - I don't think the big G is in the business of making webmasters feel better.

hmpphf




msg:1326081
 9:18 pm on Jun 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think Google's overriding concern is that they want to grasp the biggest share of web traffic, and in the process convert some of that traffic into cash.

So Google might refine their algo to kick out the sewer sites from their own serps but MSN and Yahoo! don't seem to be as good at that game. Google would want the adwords ads to stay on the sites and drag traffic from the MSN and Yahoo networks through the adwords channel and make cash in the process.

cagey1




msg:1326082
 12:31 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am not sure why there is an issue with site quality. In terms of Adsense, site quality is largely irrelevant. Traffic quality is what is important. I would argue that high quality traffic going to a low quality site is actually good for Adsense advertisers.

Saying that a low quality site must have low quality traffic is an interesting hypothesis, but it seems to me that would be hard to prove (another good reason for google to rely on conversion data to determine traffic quality).

The only site quality issue that might affect Adsense is a lack of outgoing links. This is the equivalent of forcing visitors to click on Adsense links (just to escape a undesirable page).

europeforvisitors




msg:1326083
 1:00 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Traffic quality is what is important. I would argue that high quality traffic going to a low quality site is actually good for Adsense advertisers.

Yes, but what about low-quality traffic going to a low-quality site? There's no reason to assume that people visiting a sitescraper page are looking to buy something--they may well be in search of information.

level80




msg:1326084
 1:53 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Quality is relative as it is based on opinion. It's best to stick to facts eg CTR etc. However Google now allows advertisers to target on a geographical basis - so they can target both on content and geography - this way the advertisers can ensure they are targeting who they want to target.

Of course I am sure there are plenty of markets not covered well by Adsense - and being an American multinational (and due to the American-centredness of the web) - I would say that sites with predominately non-American traffic (unless it's really niche valuable traffic) would have difficulty - getting PSAs - visitor is not in the Adsense target languages etc.

Anyway.......discuss...

europeforvisitors




msg:1326085
 2:11 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Quality is relative as it is based on opinion. It's best to stick to facts eg CTR etc.

I don't think anyone here is discussing editorial quality per se--e.g., whether Fodors.com is better than Frommers.com or Nytimes.com is better than Washingtonpost.com. IMHO, the issue is whether computer-generated "sitescraper" pages are bad for publishers, the AdSense network, and Google search users--and whether Google will/may/should take steps to prevent such "content spam."

Google already recognizes differences in "quality" (in terms of advertising value) with its smart-pricing scheme, which claims to adjust advertiser discounts according to the likelihood of a click's resulting in a "sale or other business action." Google uses the example of a camera review having a greater likelihood of generating a sale than a page of photos tips would have. That's a quality assessment--not of editorial quality, but of lead quality.

anallawalla




msg:1326086
 3:40 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I tend to agree that a sale is a sale and a fraudulent click is a fraudulent click. If the site is a sewer site then the only loser is the information seeker who didn't plan to buy anything, so they didn't click any ads. That would be the only premise to argue for the removal from the serps.

As for reporting to Adsense, I do it occasionally more to see the response from Google than what happens to the site. So far I have only seen boilerplate.

If I were truly upset by the sewer site, I'd consider emailing the advertisers and tell them to turn off Content Match because they were being associated with the sewer site.

The time is better spent on writing one more content page. :)

oldskool79




msg:1326087
 4:08 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google has two primary goals for it's site:

1. Provide the most relevant results to searchers
2. Generate income by sending qualified traffic to advertisers

As long as Google continues to be the best at both of these, they will remain the dominant search engine.

The question is, do these "sewer" sites meet any of the above goals?

For the most part, the answer is yes.

Often times the sewer sites can redirect a user to a useful site. I've seen it many times. The "sewer" sites are usually content targeted to specific phrases so their ads are highly relevant. Ultimately the user is getting the information they want, Google is making money, and the advertiser is getting targeted traffic.

This is the ideal situation for Google, as they get the best of both worlds -- they are giving the user relevant results and earning revenue.

Of course, this is not the ideal situation for everyone else. The surfer would be much better served if he/she could skip the intermediate "sewer" page and jump right to the final page from the SERPs. This would also be ideal for the advertiser, since they would be getting this direct traffic for free rather than paying for it. But this, of course, does not help Google out with goal #2 which is to generate revenue from advertisers.

I don't see any reason why Google would ban these sites from Adsense since they are serving their purpose.

However, at some point in the future (probably sooner than later) these "sewer" sites will become so prevelant that every search will return nothing but them. Users will begin to complain that their searches are no longer relevant and Google will need to figure out someway of filtering these out or will ultimately die.

Macro




msg:1326088
 8:23 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

at some point in the future (probably sooner than later) these "sewer" sites will become so prevelant that every search will return nothing but them.

For some search terms I think these sewer sites are already quite dominant.

Users will begin to complain

They may not actually complain, they may just switch SEs. Going by past form Google will take pre-emptive action if they believe that the quality of SERPS is going to turn users away.

blaze




msg:1326089
 8:58 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yes, I think oldskool is probably on to something. I think it's wishful thinking to be confident that these 'sewer' sites will simply vanish.

The problem is copyright infringement. To ignore this and simply say it should be a Google problem or a general Search Engine problem is ignoring the heart of the modern economy.

If we are to have an economy based on the generation of intellectual property rather than physical property, we need appropiate protection or there will be no motivation to generate the IP.

So let's kill this at the heart, let's make sure people who generate content have a right to license that content out to whoever they so chose and no one else. This is important enough for the legal system and not the search engine benefactor..

And I think we already have a very affective way of determining who should be allowed to use content and who shouldn't, and that's robots.txt

Macro




msg:1326090
 9:19 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think we already have a very affective way of determining who should be allowed to use content and who shouldn't, and that's robots.txt

blaze, that's an interesting point which you have raised in the other thread as well.

Webmasters have over the years become accustomed to welcoming bots rather than rejecting them as the bots were generally friendly and looking to spider your site for inclusion in search engine results. Over time the odd malicious bot emerged which trawled your site to do unwelcome things like harvesting email addys. Webmasters then modified their robots.txt to exclude those bots. There have been numerous lists here of robots.txt entries and what bots were the nasty ones. However, the sentiment was still to let all bots in except for the ones that were banned. Are you recommending that webmasters now bear the responsibility of blocking all bots by default and only allowing in those that they know are friendly?

Also, what do you see as the solution for sewer sites that don't respect your robots.txt?

gethan




msg:1326091
 9:43 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Blaze: It isn't that simple :(

Macro > Also, what do you see as the solution for sewer sites that don't respect your robots.txt?

Yep - Big problem - you can go do the route of blocking IP's that are associated with bad bots with .htaccess/webserver but there is nothing to stop a scraper bot mimicking IE or Gecko or what ever it likes as far as your site is concerned - really there is nothing the webmaster can do, if someone want's to steal your content, you can't stop them. You can make it more difficult - but there will be side effects, such as legitimate users being denied access by mistake.

Additionally - is it copyright infringement? probably - can anyone prove it? no. A good site scraper could obfuscate your content to the point where it is no longer identifiable, and do it quickly and automatically. What we see at the moment is just the crude cutting edge - it could get a lot worse and a lot more effective - and if there is a profit in it... then it will come.

blaze




msg:1326092
 9:54 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

My point was, and I guess I didn't make it clear enough, is that it isn't 'that simple'.

Letting engines 'simply' take care of it is pretending the problem is easily dealt with.

This is simply the dog-chasing-it's-tail syndrome. We need a fundamental shift in the protection of IP rights on the internet, and it's not going to happen overnight.

There are a lot of potential orgs that need to step up to the plate, ICANN or whoever has control over the root servers would be a good start. The UN would be an appropiate organisation as well.

The reason I suggest robots.txt is that it forces you to play fair. You can't just let people access your content and republish it willy-nilly and then suddenly, without rhyme or reason, come down on joe blow scraper because you don't like the look of his website.

You must state before hand pro-actively that you have only given permission to a select few to republish your contents.

I also mention this because I am intimately familar with a court case that has set significant precendence in spidering /republishing websites and used robots.txt as the main legal argument.

blaze




msg:1326093
 10:05 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)


Additionally - is it copyright infringement? probably - can anyone prove it? no. A good site scraper could obfuscate your content to the point where it is no longer identifiable, and do it quickly and automatically. What we see at the moment is just the crude cutting edge - it could get a lot worse and a lot more effective - and if there is a profit in it... then it will come.

I too would be tempted to say this, however given some more thought I think it would be near impossible to automatically obfuscate content in a way and keep it grammatically sane. Not only would the obfuscation annoy surfers, it would also probably be easily picked up by the search engines.

If you have the technology to take content, digest it, and rewrite it so that you can not recognize the source and actually still make sense .. well, then you're on something a lot more exciting then stealing other people's content.

gethan




msg:1326094
 10:17 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Letting engines 'simply' take care of it is pretending the problem is easily dealt with.

In the context of this forum - Adsense - it is google's problem - the profit for joe scraper is coming from adsense - and additionally impacting other publishers in the progam.

> The reason I suggest robots.txt is that it forces you to play fair. You can't just let people access your content and republish it willy-nilly and then suddenly, without rhyme or reason, come down on joe blow scraper because you don't like the look of his website.

No one has the right to republish content from any site 'willy-nilly'. They have fair-use rights and any additional rights that the copyright owner explicitly gives them - and that is it. The website dosen't have to state otherwise, or do anything additionally.

Fair-use and the internet is a new area, for example: Google's cache IMO is not fair use. Google's use of snippets in the SERPs pages is fair-use. Joe site scraper is not fair-use IMO - but I can't find it, I can't stop it - not with robots.txt or any other technological means.

But this is off topic - should google allow such sites in the adsense program? does it impact revenue for other publishers? is the current program encouraging such sites? do these sites have benefit for adwords advertisers? these are on topic questions - I think there is more than enough to discuss there.

gethan




msg:1326095
 10:19 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

> it would also probably be easily picked up by the search engines

One would hope so - but - it doesn't look that way at the moment.

Macro




msg:1326096
 10:56 am on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

One would hope so - but - it doesn't look that way at the moment.

We don't know if they are picking it up; they may well be. What we haven't seen is a tweaking of the algo to exclude these sites. So far.

loanuniverse




msg:1326097
 12:36 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think the emphasis here has to remain in quality. I was looking for some information on “purple widgets” yesterday and Google gave me one of those sites as the #2 result in the SERP.

I have to say that it was a little upsetting to get to this page and see an adsense banner on top and 10 scrapped out links with paragraphs underneath. Just for fun, I copy/pasted the text into word and counted the number of times “widget” was present in the page. The result was 102.

Even if you were to agree that these sites provide some value “which I don’t”, what value will there be on google when its own SERPS get cluttered with them?

rcjordan




msg:1326098
 1:14 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

> I would argue that high quality traffic going to a low quality site is actually good for Adsense advertisers.

I know of more than a few sites that have both adsense and privately-placed advertising on the same pages and/or rotating through the same ad positions. While information isn't available to me on the effectiveness (ROI or leads generated) on the adsense campaigns the results of the private campaigns indicate that this is very much the case.

dhatz




msg:1326099
 1:25 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't understand talk about Adsense sales from "sewer" sites.

In ESSENCE I don't find any difference between Web spam and e-mail spam.

Sure, if you sent millions of unsolicited commercial emails, "some" would convert. Does it legitimise this practice? Just because some sales would inevitably occur (in my experience with ecommerce, some users are so naive they'll buy from anywhere)? would an advertiser WANT to be associated with that CRAP if he had a choice?

loanuniverse




msg:1326100
 1:54 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

In the future there will be nothing but scrapper sites scrapping each other and ecommerce sites listed on top and paying a fraction of a penny per click.

richmondsteve




msg:1326101
 2:13 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think it's in the best interests of the SEs and end users for the scraper sites to be filtered or handled via an algorithm. Unlike email spam, I am not surprised that *some* of these scraper sites are considered useful by *some* users and I am not surprised that the ROI on PPC ads on them can be adequate - so long as the users are in buy mode. If they're in info. gathering mode they tend to be somewhere between useless and a notch above that, especially when there are no clickable outbound links. Email spam is a different beast since a users need not be in buy or info gathering mode for the product/service pitched to get it. If email spam was triggered by my search habits in close to real time it would probably convert better and be of interest to more users. It still wouldn't justify it and would still have the same effects on email that we could be looking at in the SEs if the scraper stuff continues to spread. I see a trends towards the future loanuniverse described in msg #58 and though it might not appear to be that bad now, if it really takes off I think some may be singing a different tune.

oldskool79




msg:1326102
 2:43 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

In ESSENCE I don't find any difference between Web spam and e-mail spam.

There is a huge difference actually. Email spam is delivered to you unsolicited. Web spam or "sewer" sites is only sent to you if you actively request it (i.e. click a link or type in a URL).

It's like the difference between receiving a call from a telemarketer (email) and going into a store with lousy service (sewer site).

In the future there will be nothing but scrapper sites scrapping each other and ecommerce sites listed on top and paying a fraction of a penny per click.

This is another one of those sweeping generalizations that will never happen. Just like how recordable cassettes would kill the music industry and TiVO would kill TV.

The web changes constantly, and before you know it there will be something new and better that people will be doing. The search engines will begin to filter out the scraped sites just like they learned to filter out keyword stuffing and link farms.

Macro




msg:1326103
 2:50 pm on Jun 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think it's in the best interests of the SEs and end users for the scraper sites to be filtered or handled via an algorithm

That assumes that it can be done via an algo. I, for one, don't have any doubts that it can. The question is: will it happen? Search engines need some motivation to change their algos. The sewer sites may not be severely impacting on the SEs' profitability at present - which is a shame as that would have been a great incentive for the SEs ;). Failing that what would serve as motivation? I think #1 would be advertisers deserting them and #2 searchers abandoning the SE (Or the other way around). Advertisers don't seem to have significant reasons to demand change. They are getting conversions from the traffic sent by sewer sites. And if this traffic ceases to convert then advertisers have the blunt tool of blocking content ads. I can't see them rushing to pull all Adwords ads. That leaves the onus on searchers. This takes a bit longer. People are forgiving when an SE gives them bad results for one or two search terms. If that happens consistently they will switch to something that serves their needs better... but this will take a while.

What about webmasters? Surely we are least important to Google? (OK, Google is nowhere without our collective content... but they don't see our concerns as tops in their priority lists). Unless, unless there is a violation of some law. So, yes, they'll act on DMCAs. And yes, they'll act on Adsense abuse, but it's gotta be abuse. As I've argued elsewhere [webmasterworld.com] - we should complain to Google when we see a scraper site in SERPS that is in clear violation of our copyright (i.e. undeniably outside "fair use"). And we should complain to Adsense when such a scraper site is running Adsense ads. Again, it's got to be a clear violation of either copyright laws or Adsense terms (Hey, even two contextual ad programs on the same page are in violation of Adsense terms). If Google get a few of these complaints they may better see the extent of the problem i.e. they may come to the conclusion that scraper sites are generating a lot of DMCA issues and/or Adsense overheads so we've got to do something about scrapers earlier rather than later.

I would love it if someone had a better and more workable solution.

This 81 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 81 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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