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The following questions are from January 2011 and most of them Google's proposed changes that would decrease the value of so called "content farms" by placing more of an emphasis on unique, high value content. Update: Google did in fact introduce an algorithm change which we discuss in the following post.
Q: Is Google at war with content farms?
A: Google is at war but they are battling against low quality content rather than specific publishers. Despite what people may think about Demand Media vs Google, the search engine isn't going to change its algorithm because of one publisher. For Google to make an algorithmic change, they have to see a particular problem across the spectrum and based on feedback and frustration, its obvious that more and more searchers are finding low quality content instead of something authoritative and useful.
Q: Does Google serve ads on content farms?
A: Google serves their ads on a variety of sites and some of those fall under the "content farm designation." Google's Adsense network is by far the industry standard for advertising because it is very versatile and easy to implement. As a result, many low quality sites do have Adsense running on their sites which brings up an interesting question: "How far is Google willing to penalize itself in terms of revenue in order to enhance it users' experience?" In many cases Adsense revenue will simply shift between publishers but some sites that stand to benefit may have contracts with other ad networks or may not serve advertising at all but the revenue hit remains to be seen.
The balance between revenue and experience is something many companies deal with on basic levels. One of the more common in online advertising is the size and frequency of ad placement on publisher sites as publishers must find a happy medium between showing relevant ads but doing so in a way that doesn't create a page full of them.
Q: Did Google change how it handles content farms?
A: As of late February 2011, Google did in fact change the way it handles content farms by introducing a new algorithm change. Surprisingly the sites people expected to drop held their ground while article marketing sites were clobbered in terms of their visibility.
Q: What is a document level classifier?
A: A document level classifier in this context is a program or function that would analyze the content on the page and identify the quality of a page either in a quantitative or qualitative manner. Google uses document level classifiers as a way of evaluating the strength of a page's content and recently rolled out an update to their DLC as part of their broader offensive against low quality content. Some of the attributes that a DLC might take into consideration could be simple metrics like word count and keyword density all the way to more difficult to ascertain metrics like author authority and social permeation.
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