Google revamps to keep ‘low-quality’ sites at bay

Saturday, February 26, 2011

MELBOURNE - Google has made amendments in the way it ranks web pages as it has been struggling to combat websites that have been able to game its system.

The Internet giant has been under fire recently over the quality of its results.

Google said it changed its mathematical formula in order to better weed out ‘low-quality’ sites that offer users little value. Some such sites offer just enough content to appear in search results and lure users to pages loaded with advertisements.

Last month, Google acknowledged it ‘can and should do better” to beat back sites that “copy content from other websites” or provide information that is “just not very useful” but are ranked highly anyway.

“I’ve never seen Google be attacked on the relevancy of their results the way they have these past couple of months,” the Australian quoted Danny Sullivan, editor of a widely read blog about the field called Search Engine Land, as saying.

Google search engineer Amit Singhal said in an interview that the company added numerous “signals,” or factors it would incorporate into its algorithm. Among those signals are “how users interact with” a site.

It also used feedback from hundreds of people it hires to evaluate changes. These “human raters” are asked to look at search results and decide whether to give their credit card number to a site or follow its medical advice, said Singhal.

Google said the effort that resulted in the latest search change has been underway for about a year. In order to learn which sites users find to be of poor quality, Google began offering software for its Chrome browser that allows users to block sites from their search results if they deem them to be low quality.

Once blocked, the sites won’t appear during future searches. Google yesterday said that while it didn’t use data from the experiment to influence the changes it made to its algorithm, it found that the algorithm change covered 84 per cent of the Internet sites that were the “most-blocked” by users. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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