In February Google changed its search algorithm to put less emphasis on results provided by content farms. But it’s hard to put a stop to something that is so profitable for sites like eHow and About.com and harder still when a significant amount of searches are of the question variety.
- Block these sites, what Google did in February. Pro: make it less profitable to run content farms. Con: Is this really leading users to the results they need?
- Optimize best content: use +1, link following and other secret parts of the google search algorithm. Pro: unbiased and potentially relevant. Con: has this really been working?
- Create content. Pro: be in charge of content, provide consistently good results. Con: there’s a lot of content to create even when focusing on the most popular questions.
- Partner with a quality content provider. Pro: provide more relevant search results. Con: creates a result bias, essentially paid results, one which Google should stay away from.
- Socially prefer one content site over another based on positive reviews and user’s positive experience. For example, Quora, which gets consistently good answers from highly qualified people and not paid writers. Another example is Yelp who has good reviews on local places. Pro: provide more relevant search results as determined by users, not Google. Con: need to put in protection against manipulation.
I prefer the last option. As an example, let’s use Google predictive search to get the top searches starting with “how to c” where “c” is the first letter of the third word. Interestingly enough, of the top 5 predictions have to do with food: cooking quinoa, rice and brown rice. As you can see, there is already a content-farm, SEO-optimized site called cookingquinoa.net created to cater to specifically answer this question. I suggest looking at Epicurious.com, a site that has recipes from official sources (i.e. Bon Appetit & Gourmet magazines) with user rankings and comments available for each recipe. Wouldn’t a more relevant response for “How to cook quinoa” be the highest ranked/most reviewed/most commented recipe on Epicurious?