Google Answers Search Result Quality Complaints

Google responded to criticism that it is not doing enough to filter out "Web spam" in its search engine results.

Google responded Jan. 21 to complaints about the quality of its search results.

During the past month, a number of bloggers and others have criticized Google for returning poor search results. At issue is what is known as Web spam, which Google defines as junk search results that pop up when Websites cheat their way to the top of search results with via search engine optimization techniques.

"A decade ago, the spam situation was so bad that search engines would regularly return off-topic webspam for many different searches," blogged Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer at Google. "For the most part, Google has successfully beaten back that type of "pure webspam" - even while some spammers resort to sneakier or even illegal tactics such as hacking websites."

In an effort to clear up "misconceptions" that have circulated in recent few weeks, Cutts blogged that Google takes action on any sites that violate its quality guidelines regardless of whether or not they have ads powered by Google and displaying Google ads does not help a site's rankings. Buying Google ads does not help rankings either, he wrote.

"As we've increased both our size and freshness in recent months, we've naturally indexed a lot of good content and some spam as well," he explained. "To respond to that challenge, we recently launched a redesigned document-level classifier that makes it harder for spammy on-page content to rank highly. The new classifier is better at detecting spam on individual web pages, e.g., repeated spammy words-the sort of phrases you tend to see in junky, automated, self-promoting blog comments."

According to Cutts, Google has also improved its ability to detect compromised sites. In December, the company added extra notification to its search results to alert users when a site may have been hacked. In addition, Google is in the process of evaluating other changes, such as a move meant to affect sites that copy other sites' or have low levels of original content.

"We take pride in Google search and strive to make each and every search perfect," Cutts wrote. "The fact is that we're not perfect, and combined with users' skyrocketing expectations of Google, these imperfections get magnified in perception. However, we can and should do better."