Lapizuli - 5:53 am on Mar 3, 2011 (gmt 0)
I looked at four of the sites that complained they were a victim of this change. All I can say is Wow! Looks to me like Google did a pretty good job in the four cases I examined. It was hard to find any information among all those ads. Clearly the sites were not made for visitors, rather to only make a dime.
I'd have to agree, at least about some of the first websites listed; they get better, though, as you go down the page.
Many sites claimed on that thread are unimpressive - lots of visual problems and navigation problems and thin content. I'm surprised they ever ranked at all, though they are not what I'd call content farms.
But there were several sites I thought were just fine - the worst that could be said of some was that they looked amateurish; others looked like your average websites to me. Not necessarily outstanding (except for one pretty nifty science site) but, you know, nice sites. I was pretty cursory, so I may be missing some serious flaws there, but my first impression says that if these websites are not good enough for Google, they're getting a LOT more selective than they were in terms of site "slickness," bigness, whatever.
Like everyone under the sun right now, I'm wondering what links together all these sites and the affected sites I write for. What are the signals that make them "content farms" in Google's eyes? It's driving me bonkers, because I'm seeing no correlation with quality, relevance, or usefulness - none. The signals, whatever they are, are apparently only intelligible to the algorithm - not to humankind.
Sorry - I'm definitely in grumble mode. I've put together fewer than ten websites in my life and I'm way outside my comfort zone trying to analyze source code and stuff to figure this out. I hate bad content more than Google, probably. But this broadscale targeting in answer to broadscale complaints has been the equivalent, to me, of saying "I keep hearing people complain that mauve is tacky. Every day I hear it - mauve equals ugliness. Well, we're listening to you, oh haters-of-mauve. No more mauve in our lineup! Any dress with a hint of pink, you're gone! And as for blatantly mauve garments - sorry for all you people who thought you liked mauve - turns out it's low class; you're better off wearing azure."
Not saying content farms are angelic, but the ones hit are not the worst - in fact, I think that some of them are the best, serving as no less than a publishing platform for the non-techie little guy who's riding a new wave of opportunity and creativity not seen since the Golden Age. But right now, it looks like only humans can tell junk from jewels. I was kind of hoping Google could do it, but they're still a long way away from AI.