Blekko Bans eHow and Other Content Farms

Is it only a matter of time before Google punishes known content farms too?

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According to a TechCrunch story just published the war against content farms has reached Blekko. WebProNews is seeking to confirm the facts. To learn more about Blekko and its approach to fighting web spam watch the embedded video interview our WebProNews team conducted at Pubcon with Blekko founder Rich Skrenta below.

TechCrunch reports that Blekko is now (or about to) block the top 20 sites its users have marked as a source of web spam. The list includes prominent content producers eHow.com and answerbag.com.





















This can only put additional pressure on Google to focus on content farms and whether it wants to continue to rank their articles so highly. WebProNews has recently written a series of articles focusing on how eHow and other large article sites are dominating thousands of Google search results. According to Demand Media founder Richard Rosenblatt, Demand has already produced over 3 million articles that are now indexed in Google. They are producing 7,000 pieces of content per day and intend to increase this quantity. Rosenblatt also states that the quality of their content is extremely important and that they are always trying to improve it.

At this rate Demand could have over 15 million articles indexed in Google and other search engines within five years. If Google continues to rank them so highly it might be more efficient to simply do your searching at eHow itself!

Here is a video in which Blekko’s Rich Skrenta talks about web spam with WebProNews:




Blekko Bans eHow and Other Content Farms
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  • http://helpwithyourwebsite.com Tammy

    Not all articles online are spam! Ehow and Demand Media are ranked high in Google for a reason and it isn’t because of spam articles.

    • Guest

      Are you sure?


      I mean not all information is truly useful, and really shouldn’t that info be on answer bags website?


      ONLY 1,790 results…

  • http://www.justoutsourcing.com JO

    I think this is the beginning of a new internet revolution and it will be interesting to see how it develops. Surely, Google will follow Blekko’s steps because Blekko is a threat. But there are some important consequences that I’m not seeing voiced.

    For instance, there are the problems of freedom of speech, a foggy definition of spam, and whether visitors have the right to discover those sites as they would discover any other site.

    There are economic consequences as well. Google will lose advertising money and so will Adsense publishers and sub-publishers. Consequently, advertisers will lose a platform and the huge audiences that view their commercials. In addition, both outsourcers and freelancers will be economically effected too since these ‘mill’s’ hire tons of online workers.

    Of course, we can’t forget the effect this move will have on established business, employees, investors, etc. etc. right on down to the mortgage company and local grocer. It’s a trickle down effect – only the effect won’t trickle. It will tumble.

    I unfortunately don’t have any alternative solutions to offer, but I certainly look forward to seeing what happens next. Thanks for keeping us notified.

    • Lanta

      “For instance, there are the problems of freedom of speech, a foggy definition of spam, and whether visitors have the right to discover those sites as they would discover any other site.”

      Not sure if any of those aspects apply. Whatever you think there are no “rights” on the Internet apart from contractual. Google, Bing, Bleko, etc can index or not whoever they want, for whatever reason. The same for “right to discover”, nobody is stopping you making a link to those websites for your visitors.

      • Guest

        “Google, Bing, Bleko, etc can index or not whoever they want, for whatever reason.

        That’s not remotely true. Bing, Blekko, Yahoo yes, but not Google. Google falls on a different category. They have gotten away with it but it doesn’t mean it is legal. Business world doesn’t work the way you view it.

        • Lanta

          Do you mean, websites denying access to search bots?
          That’s another side of the coin and I agree with you there.

    • Dano

      Nial on the head! Google inspired a generation of Spammers, you can sign up for our adsense program and toghether we can fill the internet with sh*t people dont want to see, I see so many sites set up purely for adsense that it makes sick.

      Google love spam really, but of course they have to be seen to be trying to huhu do something yeah. what a joke.

  • http://www.web-savvy-marketing.com Rebecca Gill

    Hey to Blekko! Now if you could please add Squidoo and EzineArticles I would be thrilled.

    • Guest

      Well Said! I second this.

  • Guest

    Ehow is not only spam, it’s a scam, plain and simple. I once wrote there, the site overwent major changes, I did not like the changes and requested once I got my final earnings, I wanted my account closed. Rich the joker who runs the sideshow at ehow closed my account alright, but he kept my earnings, and repeated emails to him went unanswered, as did messages posted on the site. Ehow is spam, its a scam, and I am glad people are waking up and taking a hard serious look at such sites.

  • http://www.autoreverseweb.com Souleye Cisse

    I’ve never been abreast of the brouhaha surrounding content farms. never heard of demand media before but first time I visited ehow, out of curiosity I clicked on one link but was very surprised though the anchor text read ‘mac osx’, I was sent to dentist’s website. I checked a few more articles then came to the conclusion that it was not an isolated fact. I once read an ezinearticle article but it was so blatantly informercial. One guy saying all the seo companies in virginia are unreliable, but there is one that is not – link. the one that is reliable – link. I mean, c’mon man! so my verdict is drive them all out of business. the french say ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’. I sympathize with jo but following his reasoning, there would be no layoffs. as bad as it may seem, most times it’s the lesser of two evils.

  • Guest

    Blekko a threat? Blekko is a joke! Banning all that sites can’t be too smart. They won’t go anywhere. Blekko will get tired of chasing its tail and get discharged dishonorably. They have a vision that will never materialize. You are allowing blackhat marketers to basically dictate the search results? Isn’t that how it works? It’s like a paraplegic lap dancer, she can do it, but not as good as we’d like. Blekko will die of a slow and painful death just like, what was its name? Cuil? I know the boys are excited now with the new toy but soon they’ll reach 18 and there won’t be more allowances.

    Back to the main subject, no, Google should stick to indexing the web and not discriminate on helpful sites like e-how, etc. because they churn out content like there is no tomorrow or because they hire writers to write it.

    • http://www.marketingweb.com.au Marketing Web

      I agree about Blekko – they are trying to put themselves up as this big saviour of the net with high quality results, but doing a few test searches I find all sorts of really obvious spam sites in the index, that would be unlikely to make it into Google.

      Try searching “promotional products australia” in Blekko and check out site number 8 – a blatent spam site that’s absolute rubbish – and some of the other results in the top 20 aren’t that good either. I think there has to be a better answer out there than Google, but Blekko aint it at this stage!

  • CaineMutiny

    I had a dream that we would someday be free of all this webtrash and Internoise– that day may soon be here. If you look on the boards/discussion forums of Google Search Help, there are 100’s of people/questions asking “how can I permanently REMOVE certain sites and content farms’ spam sites from EVER showing up in my search results???”

    Not only did Google finally publish a “How to create a custom search” with actual instructions for filtering out unwanted sites (by creating a search, and THEN subtracting domain names– including how to use * as a wild card), but there are multitudes of suggestions for Google to offer general search settings and preferences where those links could be added without going the extra mile to create a custom search.

    I DO believe the day is coming. So for all you folks worried about users being denied the full Internet experience (garbage, bit-noise, and spam included), it will likely be an opt-IN to use the filter.

    SO excited. Can’t wait. Will increase my productivity and speed progress.

    • Dano

      That sounds good but can you block the Google ad’s ?????
      Removing independant content from search results is not a good move, you should consider the spam that Google, Amazon, WordPress, eBay and wiki generate maybe removing there spam might make for better search results and search speeds.

      • Guest

        Scroogle.org will help you block the ads

  • Harriet

    After reading this on (the somewhat spammy) Business Insider site:
    …you’ll agree that AOL is headed in the same direction as Demand Media. According to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong:

    • By April, he wants AOL editorial to increase its stories per month from 33,000 to 55,000.
    • He wants pageviews per story to jump from 1,500 to 7,000.
    • He wants video stories to go from being 4% of all stories produced to 70%.
    • He wants the percentage of stories optimized for search engines to reach 95%.

    We know all this, because right now, Armstrong’s lieutenants are making their way through the company’s many editorial divisions, training them on “The AOL Way.”

    This smells like a content farm to me. See the whole hilariously disturbing slide show at: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-aol-way#-1

  • http://www.bonanza.com/booths/Miragi Mi

    Sorry to those who believe that ALL eHow or Answerbag articles and answers are spammy, but you may be a tad misinformed. I won’t argue that some articles remaining on eHow are spammy due to the former construct of the site that allowed anyone and everyone to post articles, including those who wanted to market their affiliate links, products, etc. However, since DMS has changed their model, subsequent articles are researched, written and subject to editorial scrutiny before publication.

    How do I know? Because I have written for DMS since ’08 and have witnessed the changes to their model along the way. Unlike sites such as eZine, eHow is not an article marketing site, and at least attempts to provide useful, unbiased information on numerous topics. I don’t agree with everything they do, but when you work for someone else, that’s how it goes.

    Whatever this Blekko site chooses to do is their choice, but maybe they should do some more research before making such broad assumptions. As it stands, how are they any different than countries such as China who decide and dictate what people can see? Yes, there’s a metric shit ton of spamminess out there, but I personally want the option to be able to wade through it myself and determine what is useful and sometimes even discover other things that I wouldn’t find otherwise.

    • Dano

      That’s how I see it, a dictatorship in the making Chikker-dy China here we come. There will be a time when all the sites you see in the search results will be Goggles own sites, Filled to the hilt with adverts, adverts and yet more adverts. If anyone is guilty of spamming the net it’s Google, Amazon, word press, eBay etc. Block all that and I will be a happy chappy. Here’s a novel idea the sites mentioned should all carry a no-follow attribute then we wouldn’t see them Tadar, thing is that wont happen & spammers and affiliate marketers will use sites like word press to get traffic for Amazon and eBay. I wonder what approach they have for this type of spam.

      I don’t want to see eBay.com and .co.uk and .au and .in every time I search for a product I want to choose from specialist shops that really know what they are selling or indeed what ever subject it is, I don’t want a wiki page written by a 17 year old kid, I want facts and quality and you simply don’t get that from these current results. Long live the Bing!

  • Dano

    This is crazy, I understand the concept but seriously blocking content of any type can only be a bad thing overall. What about sites that try hard to create quality content and such sites as fixya.com I have found very useful at times in fact so useful in fact that they where the only site that could answer my questions.

    I say if you are going to carry on down this path then wiki should not escape this block as on the most part how often does wiki pop up and you really don’t want it to, they get many top 5 spots in Google so for me not putting wiki in the same boat is pure wrong and almost looks like Google are trying to monopolise the Internet, people seem to forget that Google is not the Internet and as such they should be very careful how they use there power over search results. What next are we just going to see all Google owned sites in the top spots ?? funny that, as Google want us and in fact force us to look at 3 paid ads before any organic results how about blocking them, how about a button to turn off the ad’s, Matt Cutts should make these considerations if he and Google care so much about the user experience, where is the extension for that then I ask you. “Monopoly” sums this up. Bad news for bloggers then, basically if you are not willing to pay big to be at the top then you ain’t getting to the top. It’s like the first step towards a “Google Dictatorship” to test the water and see the reaction, 5 years down the line it will just simply be included within the algorithm and you wont have the choice to remove it. Sad Times ;-(

  • http://www.backlinkbooster.com Tom

    A couple of points:

    1. If the search engines start just showing the top 50 or so sites (in their opinion, as suggested by Blekko), then it’s not really a search engine. It just gives all the traffic to the top sites and there is no incentive for other sites to develop good content to compete. Rather, it’s a closed system and not a free market.

    2. How do they determine what is “good” content and what is “bad” content? How do they know what people want? Blekko seems to want to be the Web Czar by curiating the web…another way of saying they will censor the web and only present what they want you to see. All incentive for new companies or new content goes out the window because as Rick said in the video above, if you want medical info you only have to go to the top 50 or so sites. Really??? What about specialized medicinal solutions? Local doctors and care-givers? Etc. He is way over-simplifying the issue.

    3. Google will not chase Blekko’s tail on this. Google has a good product that works and just needs some tweaking. If Blekko was even close to being a competitor (right now they are a just gnat on an elephant’s butt) then possibly Google would engage, but that’s not the case here. This conversation will probably lead Google to tweak its algo, but I highly doubt it will cause Google to drop what it’s doing and go in a different direction. They have no incentive to do so.

    But of course…time will tell.

  • http://www.aurumwriters.com AurumWriters

    It seems things have started crawling in the right direction where even big players would have to think twice…wonderful post, certainly an eye opener for everyone!!!

  • http://ifyouwriteorpushspamforalivingpleasedieinafire.com END THE SPAM FARMS

    @ Tammy, yeah sure they are. If I say it is spam, it is. A poor man’s substitue for quality information. Rubbish site that wastes my time and doesn’t deliver the goods. You haven’t noticed the growing masses of them when you try to search for actual information? And the lack of actual relevant people who know something abut the subject at hand? Maybe you don’t actually use search engines much.

    You telling me otherwise, is just you telling me otherwise. Doesn’t make it any less spam. And I am part of a growing subset of users, disappointed at the ever increasing low quality spammy junk on the inernet. I am not the only one.

    LOL professional editors. I’d rather professional researchers and authors thanks very much, or just real people, bloggers etc. people with actual knowledge and interests, not some sweatshop freelance hacks who actually know nothing of what they speak.

    50,000 articles on the same thing, all a few nicely polished paragraphs and loaded with ads, and no decent links to more info, and summarys of what you intend to know or find at best.

    This is SPAM. Not quality content. I am happy for these rubbish sites being kicked out of search results. I have been using duckduckgo lately myself, and quite happy with the results so far (About 2 months now.)

    You are obviously some kinda spam-site shill. Oh wait – you are using voicing your opinion to self-servedly create a backlink to you own website/business venture…

    GTFO my internetz. Kthx.

  • http://uploadd.in/ Dylan

    I kind of find use out of sites like ehow, fixya, as they just i feel…as if they, help gather the information on my questions..But if we eliminate these sites does that just mean we will have MORE answers to questions we ask on google?

    It’s sad to see freewebs (webs.com) on that list as it was the site sparked my interest in graphics, web development, back like 9 years ago though when it was freewebs.


  • BlekkoisaJoke

    Blekko, is another sad attempt at a search engine, and not a good one at all. And the banning of these “content farms” is way off as some of the sites they have banned are not content farms at all, and on top of that it’s a bit funny (laugh out loud funny actually) that if you look into Blekko’s founders, 3 are from content farms and their investors are into content farms as well, so this isn’t just sad it is a very poor example of a company run by scheisters. Blekko is a big joke and their whole banning of companies and sites, should include the ones these losers founded and worked on before, and the ones their investors are involved with.

  • http://americanmuslimmom.com Ponn Sabra

    Interesting points about web farms…but, I find it very interesting that NetworkedBlogs.com made the list. I’ve never listed, and see way too many personal, mommy blogs that do; and recently a couple told me to list, which I found no valued need. Will this affect their individual blogs in anyway?

  • http://onemoresales.com Malathy Badri

    It is tough to answer this question. Yes, it sure build up the pressure on Google. But do you think this kind of stringent quality control can be sustained in the long run?

  • http://www.swomconnect.com warren

    google did what they think would benefit their searchers. Duplicate content is less beneficial to the readers. We need fresh and unique content.

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