How Matt Cutts Leveraged The Stack Overflow And Hacker News Communities In Redefining The Phrase “Content Farms”

A little over a week ago, on the Friday before last, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Web Spam Team, wrote a post on the Official Google Blog titled “Google search and search engine spam”. This post, and the upcoming changes it discussed, were most likely in response to a growing trend of dissatisfaction with Google’s results that have been cropping up around the blogosphere. In the post Matt talks about how Google feels that things are in fact not as bad as people are saying, and that “Google’s search quality is better than it has ever been in terms of relevance, freshness and comprehensiveness.” He does say that recently, due to increase in both “size and freshness” that of course some spam did get indexed, and also states that as the old, tired, run of the mill spam decreased in Google’s index that Google will now be shifting it’s focus on to content that just sucks:

As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. – Matt Cutts

Whoa. This, especially coming from Matt Cutts, is huge. For those who don’t know, “content farms” are

Read moreHow Matt Cutts Leveraged The Stack Overflow And Hacker News Communities In Redefining The Phrase “Content Farms”

Matt Cutts Criticizes Deceptive Ads, Doesn’t Realize Google Is The One Serving Them

Yesterday over on Daggle.com Danny Sullivan published a post titled, Of Misleading Acai Berry Ads & Fake Editorial Sites. In the article Danny discuses a rising trend of deceptive marketing practices involving fake news sites, the way they rip people off with products they are selling, and the fact that authority sites such as the LA Times are the ones carrying these ads, lending them some credibility in the public eye. Danny states in the post that the ads showing are being served by Zedo, and that he wishes the ad network should raise it’s standards and not allow such blatantly misleading advertising:

Personally, I’d like to see Zedo up its standards for the type of ads it will accept. This type of junk shouldn’t be allowed. – Danny Sullivan

He’s right, too, the ad networks should be policing this type of deception, by all means. Matt Cutts, Google’s head of the web spam team, agrees. He tweeted about the story, and also

Read moreMatt Cutts Criticizes Deceptive Ads, Doesn’t Realize Google Is The One Serving Them

zOMG! Jason Calacanis Lied Again?? Shocker!

Last Thursday, in response to Matt Cutts stating that he needed more than “arbitrary inurl searches” to sway him (which was in turn in response to a Hacker News submission about Mahalo and the plethora of keyword rich domains they were apparently building out) I wrote a post explaining in some detail how the latest Mahalo spam is in fact spam. I demonstrated in the post how Jason had developed a linkfarm which was being used as a link source back to Mahalo.com. It wasn’t just that the individual sites were all linking back to the mother site, which would in fact be normal, but also that the pages were linking back to specific pages within the main site, pages that in many cases had few, if any, links going to them aside from the ones from this linkfarm.

Each time it happens Matt’s defense of Mahalo spamming Google just gets more perplexing. In this latest round he started by saying that his job was not to have knee jerk reactions, as if Mahalo hadn’t already established a pattern of spamming over a long period of time, and that Matt is pretending he hadn’t already had a talk with Jason and told him that if he didn’t raise the bar with his site that Google would take action on Mahalo. From there it got even weirder – Matt looked at the linkfarm and basically told me that a) he didn’t care as long as it wasn’t passing link juice, and b) he’s the only one who could tell if that was the case.

I could have sworn that it was if you were caught trying to spam you were penalized, and you couldn’t get the penalty removed unless you promised not to do it again. Now, where did I get such a crazy and wild idea? Oh yeah, I remember now…

Read morezOMG! Jason Calacanis Lied Again?? Shocker!

Need Help Understanding The Latest Mahalo Spam?

On Tuesday of this week someone posted the following question to the Hacker News website: How long has Mahalo been using keyword domains like this? The link in the story points to a search in Google, [inurl:tip_guidelines mahalo]. The results of this query show a list of somewhere between 180 and 270 sites (Google doesn’t show all of them, just the first 184 or so) all belonging to Mahalo.com, all keyword rich domains, all using the Mahalo Answers platform, and all covering material that Mahalo.com already covers. I am sure most of you are familiar with that fact that Google labels sites that have little or no content and are designed to drive affiliate conversions as Thin Affiliate sites:

These sites usually have no original content and may be cookie-cutter sites or templates with no unique content. – Google Webmasters Tools Help, on sites Google does not like

These sites that Mahalo has started churning out, all that were apparently created just this year, would appear to be the AdSense version of the classic “thin affiliate” website.

I showed Matt Cutts the link to the search itself, and asked if he thought that the list of sites

Read moreNeed Help Understanding The Latest Mahalo Spam?

Dear Matt Cutts, What’s Your Take On Addon Domains?

Today Matt Cutts answered a question from “Land Lubber”, Colorado. Land Lubber asks:

What’s your take on “addon domains”? Does Google penalize someone for having one or more addon domains on their main website, (or if they’re self hosting)? e.g. 2, 5, or 10 all coming from the same IP address, would that be bad? – Land Lubber, CO

Matt responded with the following:

Read moreDear Matt Cutts, What’s Your Take On Addon Domains?

Was The Google Mayday Update A Complete Failure Then?

Earlier this week at SMX Advanced Seattle, during the You&A With Matt Cutts, the topic of the latest Google update, dubbed Mayday by webmaster last month, happened to come up. According to Ryan Jones’ live blogging account of the SMX Keynote the update had nothing to do with the web spam team. It was an algorithmic change that was intended to “make long tail results more useful”. Matt made statements in effect telling webmasters who might have been affected by MayDay that they should look at their content and see how usefulness or unique content could be added to those pages. This indicates that the point of the Mayday update was to filter out or penalize results that are not unique content, or that are simply autogenerated results.

Matt made similar statements when he was interviewed by WebProNews and the topic came up:

Read moreWas The Google Mayday Update A Complete Failure Then?

Jason Calacanis: Screw You Google, Now I’ll Sell Links Too

By now Google has to be getting more than a little embarrassed about the behavior of Mr. Jason Calacanis and his site, Mahalo.com. Aaron Wall did a very well written piece explaining how Mahalo Makes Black Look White and the spammy techniques they were employing. This isn’t the first time Aaron has blogged about Mahalo either, and talked about exactly how this makes Google look bad. For those who might not know, I have also been blogging about this recently.

While Google will ban smaller websites from their search results or from AdSense on a whim, usually it takes heavier coverage

Read moreJason Calacanis: Screw You Google, Now I’ll Sell Links Too

Jason Calacanis’ Backup Plan For Replacing Content: Steal It From Wikipedia

/sigh

Ok Jason, we get it, you’re desperate. But stealing content from Wikipedia in order to replace what you deleted? Come on!

I am flipping through Mahalo.com today, just seeing if

Read moreJason Calacanis’ Backup Plan For Replacing Content: Steal It From Wikipedia

Dear Jason Calacanis: This Isn’t An “Absurd Microscope”

Jason Calacanis replied to my post from yesterday. In it he discusses how he is indeed deleting many of the spammy pages that I had pointed out. Some, like the duplicate content doorway pages, he continues to defend. Either way, progress is being made.

However, he still kinda kills it by tossing in at the end about how this whole scrutiny on his site is “absurd”, and anyone who calls him on it is being “vicious”:

Read moreDear Jason Calacanis: This Isn’t An “Absurd Microscope”