Why Content Is Not a King Part 2

Why Content Is Not a King Part 2

The web grows because it is filling up with rubbish, articles with lines like.

‘It is important to write good content because good content is very important’.

and much of that content is produced by ‘content farms’ where writers produce large numbers of articles in a short time for very little money. One such ‘farm’, Demand Media, is said to produce over 1,000,000 new items of content per month.

And yes, they are competing with you. And I, and everyone on the web.

They may not write as well, they may not be so informative, but that, as we’ve seen is not what matters.

Throughout the centuries since the invention of the printing press publishers have been responsible for checking the quality of the work they launch on the world, but that doesn’t mean grammar and spelling. It also means quality of content. When I wrote my first book, its progress was painful. The publishers sent it to no less than five experts to get their input, and since everyone has a different opinion I had to prove my facts were correct before the book could be published.

Internet publishers don’t take that kind of responsibility. They rarely look further than spelling and grammar, and since it is quite possible to write meaningless twaddle but spell it beautifully, the web is awash.

Here’s what Matt Cutts had to say on the official Google Blog

“people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content.�?

So Google launched an algorithm change which is designed to impact 11.8% of queries by reducing the ranking of low quality sites and increasing the ranking of sites which provide useful content. Guess which type of site ezinearticles.com wants to be?

Hence the changes.

Google wants to ensure that high quality content does much better in the search engines. Good for Google. But not so easy to do.

In the real world, reputation isn’t measured in quite the way that Google does it. A location can have a reputation. A company can have a reputation, but mostly reputations belong to people. So one suggestion is that in the future, rankings will (at least in part) depend on ‘distributed reputation systems’ which will include the reputation of the author.

This isn’t a particularly new idea and there’s no doubt that it will be difficult to implement, but with the advent of services which can verify an online identity (while keeping it confidential) this seems likely to at least factor in the great Google algorithm at some time in the future.

So Google will be looking for articles written by someone with a good reputation – but how will that be established? Surely not by quantity alone?

Scientists have long been guilty of defining information in terms of quantity. As Professor Ian Stewart put it in his 1998 book ‘Life’s Other Secret’, quantity is not the vital factor:

However, what’s really important about a message is not the quantity of information, but its quality. “Two plus two makes seventeen” is longer than “2+2=4” but is also nonsense.

So Google has an uphill struggle ahead, finding ways to tweak (technical term) their search algorithm so that you and I, who care about content, can receive our due. There will be many changes and we, as always, need to run to keep up.

Or do we?

If instead of scheming to manipulate, we simply concentrate on producing good content, perhaps in time, Google will catch up with us.