Blekko Bans Content Farms From Its Index

FarmTechCrunch reports Blekko, the SlashTag search engine, has made the bold move of banning some “content farms” from their index completely.

Rich Skrenta, Blekko’s CEO confirmed the ban with us today. He told us Blekko has decided to ban the “top 20 spam sites from blekko’s index entirely, based on our users click /spam on results.” This includes ehow.com, one of Demand Media’s top revenue generating web sites.

Rich explained this came up after listening to Danny on This Week In Google. Rich hacked together a reverse slashtag named -/contentfarms that allowed searches to remove these sites from their searchers. Today, Blekko decided to drop the sites completely from their index, making the slashtag irrelevant.

The top 20 sites Blekko removed from their index include ehow.com, experts-exchange.com, naymz.com, activehotels.com, robtex.com, encyclopedia.com, fixya.com, chacha.com, 123people.com, download3k.com, petitionspot.com, thefreedictionary.com, networkedblogs.com, buzzillions.com, shopwiki.com, wowxos.com, answerbag.com, allexperts.com, freewebs.com, and copygator.com.

This move was obviously in reaction to Google announcing their 2011 spam target this year are content farms. Matt Cutts of Google announced part or all of the algorithm is live as of last week. However, ehow.com and other typical “content farms” have for the most part, seemed to be unaffected. This implies that either the algorithm that launched had nothing to do with content farms or Google does not classify these sites as content farms.

Postscript: Tammy Frost, a writer for ehow and Demand Media posted a call out to ask people to stand up to Blekko and demand they not consider the Demand Media sites as spam. She said:

I think we need to stand up for all of the hard work and dedication that we have put into our published ehow articles.

Related Stories:

Related Topics: Blekko | Channel: SEO | Content Farms | SEO: Spamming

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://coldfusionnerd.com Bret

    Any chance they can add Bleacher Report to their list? :)

  • http://blog.nexcerpt.com/ nexcerpt

    Such a common-sense solution — thanks Blekko! Months overdue, but wonderful to see a big player take the problem seriously. Very wise to let users influence the targets of the ban. Next: figure out how to keep these banned players from organizing to create “anti-SEO” teams, clicking to ban legitimate sites… ugh!

    You ask, how to ban content farms? What is banning content farms all about? When you decide to ban content farms, you will find that banning content farms is one of the best ways to ban content farms. Experts agree that the best reason to ban content farms is to get rid of the content from the content farms. LOL

  • http://www.lixam.de lixam LTD

    ehow is using Google Search and Google Advertising.
    So no chance Google will consider this to be a “content farm” or any kind of spam!

  • http://www.webconnoisseur.com/blog/ Dustin Woodard

    Sounds nice in theory, but perform a few queries and you’ll see how long-tail content sites like eHow actually do help out search engines, especially “how to” type queries: http://ugcseo.com/2011/02/01/blekko-banning-some-content-farm-sites/

  • Chris Pantages

    surprised not to see Mahalo included in that list

  • http://www.exposureonline.com TimDineen

    I’m not so sure this is “obviously in reaction” to Google’s plans. It’s simply a good idea and Blekko is moving forward first. Google has had a long time to clean this mess up and hadn’t made it a priority until now.

    I’d go with the angle that Blekko is pushing the issue and Google is doing the reacting.

  • Ian Williams

    There is potentially a wider debate over a definition of content farming – is Wikipedia a content farm? Is a news agency a content farm (they produce content to gain ad revenue, after all)?

    If the only defining criteria is that news agencies are perceived as higher quality than a content farm, well who determines that, and how? I’ve seen some appalling news agencies, and I’ve also seen some useful content farm articles.

    As an SEO I’d love to see content farms removed, and I welcome proactive moves to protect quality. However, I’m not at all sure about the actual implementation of such a blanket rule, and what it means for the integrity of the web (although quality of SERPs should ostensibly improve).

    Very, very interesting.

  • B. Dougherty

    We hateses the Content Farms, we really, really does.

    They are the parasites of the Internet.

    I’ll bet they scream bloody murder about this, though. I can just hear them now, defending their constitutional right to be indexed.

    Ian raises a great point: how to to distinguish a content farm from a legitimate site? Inbound links, maybe? Of course, the SEOs have gotten good at this game.

    Sometimes I think the only solution is to make everyone promise to play nice.

  • B. Dougherty

    They forgot to ban ehow.co.uk. Try this Blekko search:
    http://blekko.com/ws/%22How+to+Save+Grocery+Money+Growing+Herbs+Indoors%22

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Ian hit the nail on the head. How does one define quality content in a way that can’t be ‘gamed’? Inbound links? Easily gamed. Quality inbound links? Maybe, but recursive logic can make that tough to ferret out as well.

    Algorithms are inherently limited in this regard. Powerful for doing a good job at incredible scale; not powerful enough to do a perfect job in any given case, and subject to gaming in ways that human editors weren’t.

    The next great “innovation” in search might be human edited indexes ala Yahoo circa 1996.

  • http://www.destination360.com/ destination360

    Here’s a great example of why they should be snipped.

    Google: How to Renew an Expired Passport

    Search result #1 Ehow/Demand Media
    Search result #2 Ehow/Demand Media
    Search result #6 UsaToday/Demand Media
    Search result #10 Trails/Demand Media

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