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Cleaning house

You might have missed it, but there was a bit of a fuss about Google search over Christmas. A blog post arguing that Google Search was becoming useless got a massive reaction, with many agreeing. (It helped that it came out on New Year's Day, when everyone was sitting around with a hangover fannying around on the internet.)

The piece argues that Google searches have become polluted with spam and low-quality sites. It's provoked a big debate about 'SEO' - Search Engine Optimisation, the way in which publishers adjust their content to make sure it pops up in Google results. Increasingly sites make content specially designed to do well in search results, that doesn't always read well for humans.

Well, now Google is doing something about it. They've changed the algorithm that powers their search results to de-rank sites with what they call 'low quality content'. That sounds rather broad, but it's pretty clear from the actual results that it's targeting these so-called 'content farms'. But have they done enough? Will the content farms just move to other sites? Could they become the internet equivalent of fugitives, moving around to stay ahead of Google's reforms? Or will they have to try and prove they've raised their content above 'low quality'? No-one knows for sure, and some people find the idea of Google censoring their results disturbing. But most seem pleased. We'll have to see how it plays out.

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