Google recently proclaimed that the Internet had become “a cesspool” and that Big Brands were the answer to cleaning up that Internet cesspool. We’ve since then seen the Google search engine favor brands over other sites, even when the branded sites didn’t appear to qualify for top rankings. Google apparently promotes them because they are big brands, and because Google thinks those brands represent the quality crap in the cesspool.
Now America Online, a Big Brand, is taking advantage of that favoritism, by publishing tons of junk on love.com that Google is indexing and presenting in the search results. And AOL is not the only one.. there are others doing the same thing — publishing page after page of junk results in an apparent attempt to simply grab search market share for advertising (Google ads, no doubt).
Take a look at what Google CEO Eric Schmidt seems to think is quality content worthy of being indexed by Google, and served up in search results:
- search Google for site:love.com
- see list of thousands of subdomains on every topic imaginable (including outrageous content on hamster-sex, dog-sex, etc)
- click thru to see page after page of simple excerpts of other content, patchd together to make new pages
AOL has apparently massively spammed Google, taking advantage of the leniency Google has granted them as a “trusted brand”. They have obviously created their rehashed content along SEO guidelines, keeping just enough uniqueness to qualify according to the Google algorithm. Page titles are all “XXX.love.com | All Things XXX” and the page content is nothing but a mashup of content published elsewhere on the web. According to Techcrunch, the content is all from an automated generation system: “All of this is automated and requires very little human involvement.”
There is no way Google can accept this, but what else can they do in the short term? I can only imagine how miserable it must feel to be a Google employee for the next few weeks while everyone looks at this junk and no one does anything about it because of the Google-Brand politics.
I’m sure it will take some time for Google and AOL to discuss the matter and reach some consensus, since they are trusted partners and all. If it were a small outfit doing this, Google would just drop them from the index. This has got to hurt morale in the Googleplex… I know how bad I would feel if my CEO started allowing spammy junk like this with an excuse that it was trusted branded content, safer and better for users.
I wonder what excuse we’ll ultimately here from AOL. It was an error? It was a rogue SEO they didn’t know about? Or maybe it’s “in beta” and quality will improve over time?