Content spam is the product of black hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO) methods designed to alter the perception of a website’s content to search engines. The result? Irrelevant search results and ever-increasingly frustrated online consumers.
While search engines are always improving their ability to read website content, they are not human beings. Their spiders are limited to simply scanning a page for relevant keywords and other critical SEO elements and ranking the page accordingly. Black hat tactics like keyword stuffing, invisible text, and doorway pages can unethically boost a webpage’s visibility in the organic results while the site’s content has no relevance for the user.
War on Spam
Search engines like Google have taken action against content spam. Last July, an algorithm change designed to fight against black hat SEO tactics was enacted. The results made significant advances against the success of unethical SEO, but spam continues to muddy the SERPs. To further combat the problem, Google announced another tweak to its algorithm to combat scraper sites (sites that steal content from other sites) in January. Experts such as Google’s Web spam team leader Matt Cutts expect continued future changes in search engine algorithms in the attempt to provide relevant search results to users.
Google truly cares about its users’ experience. Its revenue depends on its reputation, and its reputation depends on providing relevant results to improve the web user experience.
A Call to Ethical Content Provision
It is unrealistic to believe that a call for ethical practices will change the unethical behavior of all black hat SEO practitioners. However, providing quality content is beneficial to both users and providers for several reasons:
- Disqualification Prevention: When Google improves its algorithm’s ability to find spam sites, your site will be safe from losing rank if it provides high quality/relevant content to users.
- Credibility and Trustworthiness. Users want relevant search content. If your site makes use of irrelevant content, users may refrain from visiting your site, trusting your content, or purchasing your products or services.
- Internet Market Maintenance. Internet usage is increasing at alarming rates, especially with the advent of smartphones. The economic potential from this surge is great for all those involved; however, if the Internet can’t provide relevant results with quality content, this potential is eliminated. No one wants to run a wild goose chase based on spam content.
The need for high-quality content is critical for providing users with positive online experiences and for helping online business to thrive. If you advertise a particular product but don’t actually provide it, you’re in trouble. Sure, you might get a few visitors, but the moment they realize the truth, you’re sunk. Content spam websites prove to be ineffective for user searches and annoying to the users themselves.