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February 21, 2011

What Does Blekko’s Spam Clock Really Say About Google Spam?

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Many of us have seen the Blekko-created Spam Clock that claims to show that every hour, one million spam pages are created. What many of you might not know at first glance is that Blekko is referring to spam pages created in other search engines like, ahem, Google.

Google’s been receiving a lot of flack lately for garbage in its results even thought it’s working tirelessly to eliminate spam. The article that comes to mind that sort of sparked the spam debate recently is the piece on TechCrunch calling for a new and better Google.

We also know that Google announced another update to its algorithm in late-January. The algorithm was geared towards blocking low-quality content sites from the results. This will affect approximately two percent of the index, according to head of Google’s Webspam team, Matt Cutts.

I talked with Bradley Leese, senior SEO analyst here at Bruce Clay, Inc., who offered an interesting perspective on the relationship between Google’s algorithm updates and spam in the results.

“Every time Google makes a change to its algorithm, spam rises to the top. Every update in the past 10 years has shown this same trend. There’s no reason to think that spammy sites that may be showing in results right now isn’t part of this recurring trend.”

Bradley suspects this is one of the reasons why Google recently announced the spam plugin for Chrome that helps users block certain sites from the results. Google is going to potentially use the data on user-blocked sites for cues in its algorithm to further reduce spam in the results.

Spam

If you’ve been following search industry news, you know there’s been a lot of talk about spam lately. Bradley says another reason for the increase in spam results is likely due to Q1 investments in spam. In spite of downturn economies, search is the one place where entrepreneurs can still make money.

See, Google reported revenue upwards of 8 billion in the fourth quarter of December 2010. On a related note, reports say venture capitalists are looking to invest money in Q1 of this year. Those two scenarios together can lead to investors looking to make fast money on spam sites.

“Spam will likely be scaled back after the end of Q1 or Q2 for a number of reasons. First, Google will refine its recent changes to the algorithm. Concurrently, spam money will likely run dry as Black Hats make adjustments to their sites to escape spam detection, thus becoming more ‘legitimate’ sites in the process.”

So what does Blekko’s Spam Clock really say about the performance of Google’s search engine? As well-intentioned as the Spam Clock may be, Bradley speculates it came just in time for Blekko to continue to position itself against Google.

“Who’s left as competition to Google?,” asks Bradley. “Yahoo recently announced it would become more of a publication-based website, Bing is losing money and Ask, poor Ask.com.”

What’s your take on the matter?

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5 responses to “What Does Blekko’s Spam Clock Really Say About Google Spam?”

  1. Brent Rangen writes:

    I hope Blekko become the little search engine that could.

    Rumor has it that they are still giving away t-shirt, unlike Bing who makes you wait until a Friday!

    FYI, JUST Blekko: “meet slashtag man.”

    On a related topic, it would be fun to figure out how many auto-blogs are primarily targeted towards adsense, affiliate marketing, CPA/referrals.

  2. Jessica Lee writes:

    Brent, lots of people are rooting for Blekko! And yes, they are still giving away t-shirts as far as I know. Bonus.

  3. Goran writes:

    I believe that the core problem of google algo is that it was designed in 90s when link juice was all there was to rank. For the future, better semantic understanding of text/page/relation is needed. Other signals will surely undermine the impact of link/anchor text bombing and the results will be better.

    Current state (brands sort out the cesspool) is not going to get google anywhere. So algo changes will be even more dramatic in next 2-5 years.

  4. Grace Morris writes:

    I remember when Ask first surfaced. What I remember about it was that you were supposed to be able to type in whatever you wanted, usually some ambiguous question(where can I find ___) and magically it was supposed to return the correct results. However, the results were and still are FAR from that intention. Seems to me they return exactly what you don’t want. So much for user experience.

  5. Jessica Lee writes:

    “Dear, Ask: How can I help stop all the poor little bunnies from being run over in the night?” Answer that, Ask. ‘Cause I see like at least three every morning on my way to the gym.



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