You know my thoughts on content mills. You know I'm pissed that Google has so far allowed these MFA (made-for-adsense) sites to spam their rankings using tactics that would have smaller independent publishers penalized in a heartbeat (and that's been the case for years). They didn't pay attention when we brought up the issues in writing communities. But now that the tech segment is on the issue too -- sick of the same old mill-style spam littering their rankings -- Google is suddenly paying attention.
They've released a new extension (thanks to Tamar from Techipedia for bringing it up on Twitter) for users of the Chrome browser. When you install the extension you'll see a new link in your Google search results. It allows you to block a site.
Why This is Good
- You can block sites that you personally do not want to see in your results -- bidding sites, blogs you frequently see but don't want to read, answer sites, etc. It's all personal and on an individual basis doesn't affect the sites in question.
- Google can use the feedback on a massive scale to see what sites are being blocked by a large percentage of users. This will give them a better idea of what's really spam or an MFA site as opposed to content people really do trust and want to see in their results.
Kinds of Sites You Might Block
This doesn't just apply to content mills as we tend to think of them in the freelance writing world. It applies to any sites that game the system for rankings and Adsense revenue or ones that frequently contain spammy content written for links. Here are some examples of sites based on ones I personally blocked:
What I consider spam in my SERPS (search engine ranking pages) certainly doesn't have to mirror your own standards. You might be fine with some of those sites, especially if you write for them. I consider the majority of the content there crap and their tactics to fall squarely in the MFA site classification, so I don't want to see them regardless of whether or not there is occasionally decent material available. You might be sick of seeing things like Wikipedia entries, dictionary sites, or answer sites like Yahoo! Answers.
There's no guarantee Google will finally take a strong stand against these larger MFA sites (especially since they profit from the ads there too), but for once they're finally willing to listen. And hey, if nothing else you no longer have to see sites you don't want to see in your own listings. Well, if you use Chrome at least....