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AOL 'Creating Websites by Automated Methods' - how will G react?
aristotle




msg:3896052
 12:26 pm on Apr 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I was reading this article:
[reuters.com ]

and came across the following quote:

"AOL, for example, is embarking on a strategy of creating a plethora of niche websites through automated methods on which to place ads, partly through its own ad platform. It has called this "leaning into the fragmentation of the Web."

Does anyone know how they will create these websites "through automated methods"? I'm also wondering how Google will treat such websites in its search rankings.

 

tedster




msg:3896678
 2:11 am on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Wow, that link was giving me error messages for a while, and then a very slow response time. So if anyone is having trouble - it might be Reuters and not you.

At any rate, there's not a lot here to base any comments on. There's a lot of latitude in the phrase "automated methods". It's just mentioned as an aside, an example of the preceding sentence: "But mechanisms to link advertisers with online properties are still developing, and made more difficult by an explosion in the number of websites in existence."

On the surface, it sounds pretty awful - but that might just be awful reporting, not something awful from AOL.

aristotle




msg:3897116
 4:33 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well, I hope it's inaccurate reporting.

Because if it's true, it means that AOL plans to create a "plethora" of niche websites by automated methods solely for the purpose of putting ads on them. (Sounds a lot like MFA to me.)

And when I saw the term "automated methods", I imagined an army of spiders scraping content from existing websites, then a computer program "blending" this content for use on new websites. Then AOL using its money and other corporate resources to push these new sites to the top of Google's rankings for their respective niches.

I hope I'm wrong, because this looks scary to me. Unless Google and the other search engines take action against it.

nomis5




msg:3897146
 5:01 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

ha, thirty years ago automated programming was going to do away with programmers. It didn't.

AOL will also fail. Even at the "bleeding edge" of technology it seems there is little new that is of use.

Umbra




msg:3897163
 5:12 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does this mean that OpenX bots have or will be scraping our websites to create Frankenstein websites?
[webmasterworld.com...]

Robert Charlton




msg:3897217
 6:39 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does this mean that OpenX bots have or will be scraping our websites...

As I read it, there's nothing in the spidering thread or in the Reuters article to suggest that OpenX bots are scraping content, or that OpenX is creating websites.

In the Reuters article, AOL automation was cited as an example of why we have an exploding number of websites out there. If anything, OpenX, which places ads on websites, seems to favor sites created by humans....

Cadogan says: "Synthetic creations can be pretty good, but there's something about that organic trend also of consumers creating sites about topics they're passionate about that creates real value."

Umbra




msg:3897235
 7:06 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Robert, that may be quite right. The problem is that when they use obscure marketing babble that sounds like doublespeak ("automated methods... leaning into the fragmentation of the Web"), it's easy to misinterpret.

Anyway, I will now slant into an abeyance of the unconscious, ie, take a nap.

aristotle




msg:3897395
 11:17 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the replies. But I'm still wondering about a couple of things:

What has caused this "explosion in the number of websites"? Is the article saying that it is due to "synthetic creations"?

And will the search engines treat such "synthetic creations" like ordinary websites, and allow companies like AOL boost them to the top of the SERPs?

Slinger




msg:3897406
 11:37 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Let's ask HAL 9000 what it thinks AOL should be told about these auto-webpages....

"I'm sorry AOL, I'm afraid you can't do that".

tangor




msg:3897408
 11:41 pm on Apr 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

We are seeing a further dilution of info on the web... ie. More sites on the same subjects, each of varying quality. I suspect the algos will be somewhat challenged but not overwhelmed. I also suspect that what qualifies as "best results" will either narrow or expand. Which direction that might take only time will tell.

signor_john




msg:3897443
 1:17 am on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

"automated methods... leaning into the fragmentation of the Web"

Nothing new about that. Look at TripAdvisor, for example, or other template-based review sites, commercial Wikis, etc. that chase the "long tail" with script-generated, keyword-driven pages that invite users to supply content. AOL is late to the party, though: the latest trend seems to be sites like Examiner.com that offer token payments to contributors in an attempt to maintain editorial direction and control.

As for the question of how Google will treat such AOL-generated sites, I'd guess that it will be business as usual, at least until Google figures out a way to distinguish keyword-generated, template-based pages with real content from those that have 100 or 200 words of filler text or are waiting for users to fill in the blanks.

tedster




msg:3900775
 4:16 am on Apr 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think this article is referring to AOL's recent and quiet launch of Love.com

The content is all automated, with main articles pulled from third party sources via Relegence, videos from YouTube, Twitter messages linking back to individual pages, and links to major news sites. All of this is automated and requires very little human involvement.

[techcrunch.com...]

We can answer the opening question by watching how Google treats the site. Can love possibly be spam?

JS_Harris




msg:3900835
 8:07 am on Apr 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is already happening at Yahoo, it's called Yahoo Glue with them. My stuff gets regularly scraped but they do link back.

Aggregate content should be downgraded severely in my opinion and it should never outrank the source.

Any mention of how they plan on funding the advertising for all these auto-sites or did they in fact plan on having Google send free traffic?

dstiles




msg:3901078
 7:14 pm on Apr 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Do you mean yahoo are actually stealing content?! Regardless of link-back, that is surely not on.

tedster




msg:3902174
 7:08 am on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Haa anyone here taken a good look at love.com? In a nutshell, it's an infinite set of wildcard subdomains plus scraped content. But it masquerades as a search engine. I'm glad it's a side-project and one that's apparently taking very little resources after the intial scripting. From where I sit it looks like a Hormel product and a waste of a very strong domain name.

I don't see it ranking, at least on any major keywords. Let's hope Google keeps it like that,

[edited by: tedster at 4:45 pm (utc) on April 28, 2009]

Robert Charlton




msg:3902195
 7:37 am on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

In a nutshell, it's an infinite set of wildcard subdomains plus scraped content.

Well, that sounds more awful than the Reuters description. One's worst nightmare and all that. ;)

But it masquerades as a search engine.

They will show results on a wildcard subdomain for anything you search for, and they must be "caching" searched content. Looks like they're hoping if they throw enough of it at the wall, something will stick.

Seems to me they're transgressing Google's official statement about search results in the serps....

From Matt Cutts (on his new url)...

Search results in search results
[dullest.com...]

Quoting Vanessa Fox...
Typically, web search results donít add value to users, and since our
core goal is to provide the best search results possible, we generally
exclude search results from our web search index.

tangor




msg:3902209
 8:31 am on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

What ticks me off is the search results are served in iframes. However, FF folks running NoScript see next to nothing (site is inoperable until you grant permissions). Flies like the proverbial lead balloon.

Me not happy camper.

Then again, if one can do this, imagine how many wannabes will do the same thing?

dstiles




msg:3902700
 8:36 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know what UA or IP(s) their robot comes in on?

I'm seeing a few weird UAs from AOL at the moment, partially pretending to be proxies.

tedster




msg:3902762
 9:40 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I suppose there's some minimal value from aggregating a variety of recent pages in the mash-up in this case.

pavlovapete




msg:3902786
 10:06 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

My feeling is that the love subdomains are created on the fly based on the search term.

I think it violates the "don't send Google to search results" rule.

Is it no-followed?

Anyone seen it rank for anything?

"Minimal value" is pretty generous.

BaseballGuy




msg:3902839
 11:19 pm on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

AOL is still around?

Why?

walkman




msg:3902884
 12:19 am on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google "Tired" and tired.spamsites.aol.com comes first? It will take google an hour to ban them all.

gpilling




msg:3902885
 12:19 am on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

They will show results on a wildcard subdomain for anything you search for, and they must be "caching" searched content. Looks like they're hoping if they throw enough of it at the wall, something will stick.

you don't even have to search - just type in whatever random subdomain you want, and a page will be served. Youtube and twitter content is there - I tried making up the URL pubcon.love.com and got a result, so did ksdhfjksfdhkjfhkjsfd.love.com. Less content on the latter though :)

[edited by: tedster at 4:41 pm (utc) on April 29, 2009]
[edit reason] fix quote box [/edit]

walkman




msg:3902886
 12:24 am on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

http://we-hope-you-love-junk.love.com/

No results here either but it worked.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 1:23 am (utc) on April 29, 2009]
[edit reason] disabled link [/edit]

db01




msg:3902887
 12:25 am on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

looks like they will close the shop like amazon did with their unspun
"Thank you for your interest in UnSpun by Amazon. UnSpun has been shut down."

rogerd




msg:3903184
 1:05 pm on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is the best use they could find for a domain like "love.com"?

No wonder AOL is on the ropes...

pageoneresults




msg:3903396
 5:32 pm on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Related?

Time Warner to Spin Off AOL Division
2009-04-29 - [WashingtonPost.com...]

sonjay




msg:3903399
 5:32 pm on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

site:love.com shows 134,000 pages indexed.

Robert Charlton




msg:3903434
 6:05 pm on Apr 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

They appear to have added some filters to their subdomain names, and if you trip them they close down access to results (cookie tracked).

If you don't trip the filters, or if you flush your cookies, they continue to generate subdomains for nonsense.

JS_Harris




msg:3903957
 11:52 am on Apr 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

So the drive for AOL is to place ads? This smacks of a text-book definition of MFA but instead of adsense it's aol. Ugly.

edit: I gave it a shot with "sux" because it really does suck. The AOL sux blowhole" video they returned for me was entertaining (work safe, nothing adult intended or returned).

Still ugly, there's not use for insta scraper sites like this in legitimate search results.

[edited by: JS_Harris at 12:01 pm (utc) on April 30, 2009]

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