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Last Friday Google’s Matt Cutts announced on Google’s blog (titled: Google search and search engine spam) that they have seen a “slight uptick” of spam in recent months. As a consequence, Google have said they are increasing their efforts to combat this rising problem and improve their search quality.
So is this a case of both parties raising their game? Well, spammers continuously look for new ways to cheat their way into higher positions on SERPs and as they do, Google have to react by altering their algorithm to counteract this latest threat. But isn’t prevention better than cure?
Well, I guess it isn’t that easy. Webspam has been a continuous problem for Google since its inception. In his blog, Matt Cutts explains, “A decade ago, the spam situation was so bad that search engines would regularly return off-topic webspam for many different searches.” Since then “pure webspam” has decreased and Google constantly develop ways to stop spam appearing on SERPs.
Their continued efforts have seen the development of a “document-level classifier that makes it harder for spammy on-page content to rank highly.” They also have “radically improved our ability to detect hacked sites, which were a major source of spam in 2010.” So, the noises coming out Google are positive, and they have switched their focus on ‘content farms’ because of feedback from webmasters and bloggers on the web.
Content farms are where sites generate large amounts of low quality content is produced, often in the guise of informative articles or genuine news. They churn out material of a questionable standard in huge quantities, usually earning tidy amounts of money from display advertising – including Google AdSense of course.
We have seen an improvement at least, and this isn’t the first time that Google has announced a crackdown on spammers in recent months[see: Is Google Finally Getting Tough on Black Hat SEO?]. The search giant is making the right noises and it appears they are listening to what the web wants; I mean a crack down on semi-automated content producers is very welcome. Unfortunately, the only thing that Google appear to be able to do currently is solve some of the current issues relating to Spam instead of second guessing the spammers next move.
Whoever has raised their game the most, Google are at least proving that they are prepared to crack down on spamming and take a tough stance on black hat SEO tactics. But whilst they struggle to combat spam, webmasters are having to compete against it; for both parties it appears to be more of a marathon than a race. So despite the slow motion response to spam, it’s still important for sites to continue using ethical optimisation techniques and leaving the black hat at home.