back to article Google whacks link farms

Google has made a major change to its search algorithms in order to try to scrub more link farm results from appearing near the top of search results. The search and advertising giant tweaks results all the time, but said these changes would hit 11.8 per cent of results, and so it wanted people to know what is going on. The …


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  1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    At long last

    ...and more of this please.

    (and pretty please, and option to only return pages that contain my bloody search terms!)

    1. Tasogare

      Re: At long last

      There sort of is one, actually. Add a plus symbol before each term, e.g. "+searchterm". I do wish there was a global setting for it though.

      I also wish there was a way to accurately search on terms with symbols in them...or *without* symbols in them, e.g. C as opposed to C++.

      1. Tom Chiverton 1


        +"C" -"C++" ?

        1. Tasogare
          Thumb Up

          Re: Ummm

          If that works, I love you.

      2. BristolBachelor Gold badge


        You will still get results that don't seem to be what you want, and when you view the cached version, you will see the magic phrase:

        "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: "

        1. Bristol Dave
          Thumb Down

          These terms only appear in links pointing to this page:

          I know it may not seem like much, but when you're trying to dig out some obscure data this can be the most annoying message on the internet. Sort it out, Google. If the words only appear in a link to a page and not on it, especially when the page has a LOT of text, 99.5% of the time the page isn't relevant. Just sayin'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      When I want to know anything at all....

      I just have to ask Jesus.

  2. James Hughes 1

    No comments yet?

    Surely someone must decry this evilness.

    1. sandman
      Thumb Up

      Re: No comments yet?

      Nope, this is one evil I will happily live with - loath link farms.

      1. alwarming

        @James Hughes 1 & @sandman

        My guess is James was being sarcastic. And the irony is that James got downvoted and sandman, who didn't get the sarchasm, was upvoted! :-)

  3. Efros
    Thumb Up

    About effing time

    title says it all.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    The last fiew days, several of my searches have gone to piss poor link farm sites 95% of the time, rendering google all but useless. This has gruntled me.

  5. Owen Carter


    This is good; Linkfarns and scrapers are just SRO cockroaches and I will really enjoy readign their howls of rage and big long wonky explanations of how this is somehow not 'fair'.

    But it's only a partial solution to only one of the problems.

    What I needed a few days ago was an exact match; but instead Google (and Bing etc) seem to think that a decimal, a hyphen and a underscore are equivalent. Big Fail.. For non technical casual search this is a valid, probably even a desirable assumption. But with the syntax of the error message I was searching for it was just a feckin nuisance. There was a more common phrase that was swamping the results I was after. And the 'exact phrase' box in the advanced search options is not really 'exact' for whitespace etc..Basically this turned what should have been a simple search for a simple explanation into a 10 minute exercise in result refinement.

    1. Chris Young

      technical searches

      Am I right in saying that there are 'other' search engines for the more technical type of searches, depending on your industry?

      Sadly I can be no more helpful, thanks to my crap memery of such things ...

      1. Owen Carter

        Good question.

        "Am I right in saying that there are 'other' search engines for the more technical type of searches, depending on your industry?"

        I hoped so.. but no matter how much I Google for them I never seem to find them.

  6. zxcvbnm

    Can never get it to search for url names properly

    Yes if I want reviews of the website I search for it but get thousands of sites that just have "ink" mentioned in their name? How can I make google look for just ink with stuck on it? I've tried inverted commas but no luck. Grr..

    1. ch815

      Try this

      add "" to your search query

      you can also search for filetypes e.g. "filetype:pdf"

      1. zxcvbnm

        Doesn't work

        Thanks for trying but just searches the website. I'm trying to search other websites/message boards for mentions for So far I can't do it. All I get it thousands of sites called things like or When I just want on its own.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          How about using this search term?

          "" reviews

        2. Rob Dobs

          TRY YAHOO!

          forget their buzz name for it, but Yahoo has a feature that shows you the web presence, or basically all the URL links to a site.

          You can also try searching for:


          This should bring up anything mentioning it, that is not on the site itself.

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Not just URLs

      I do searches for part numbers, error codes and all sorts. When I'm not impressed with the reults the cached version tells me that it has ignored 90% of the part number and is just searching for 10 !!

    3. Fluffykins

      What about

  7. Tom 13

    Hate link farms, but there are certain

    site aggregators I like. The trick is how to tell the difference between them.

  8. Nigel R Silver badge

    what about paysites and synthetic pages?

    I would love Google to block or demote as the key part of any page found in the results is behind a paywall - and a genuine answer is always to be found in a different search result anyway.

    Also could Google at last find a way to deal with 'generated' web pages, that seem to be a faux custom result page just based on search keywords?

    1. Robert Moore

      block or demote

      In FF at least the answer is still there. Scroll all the way past their "Please sign up to see this answer crap" and down, way down at the very bottom. The answer you seek.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cached version

      If you want to know what is on that Experts-Exchange page, just read the Google Cached version. That way you read what they showed the Google bot itself.

      Not that the "advice" is of any use most of the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I sort of find it useful

        Also, you can try asking a question if you don't find the answer there.

        1. Goat Jam


          Puts the answers down at the bottom of every page. All you need to do is scroll right to the bottom past all the exhortations to subscribe to expert-sexchange to find what you are seeking.

  9. philbo
    Thumb Up

    Here's hoping.. will be quite a long time before the people who created the link farms work out how to finagle Google's new algorithm.

    I get really pissed off when I find stuff that I've written showing up on screen-scraped pages of "related" content (especially when that theoretically related content is explicitly pornographic - has been a little embarrassing on one or two occasions)

  10. JaitcH

    How about eliminating Google link pages"

    Really bugs me when I click on a helpful looking link and it takes you to a page of Google links, many of which are unrelated to the search term.

  11. Franklin

    A title is required

    Now all they need is a natural language parser that's capable of weeding out search results that are gibberish, like "side effect of nike air with polyamory remote controlled helicopter Britney Spears on free live sex Ugg boots accutane casino lottery."

    Once they get that bit worked out, the next step is a natural language parser connected to a strong AI that can weed out sites that don't offer useful information.

    From there, it's just a short hop to Skynet. Let me be the first to welcome our search engine overlords, etc.

    1. bell

      Be nice ...

      '... capable of weeding out search results that are gibberish, like "side effect of nike air with polyamory remote controlled helicopter Britney Spears on free live sex Ugg boots accutane casino lottery."'

      Now, now. That really wouldn't be fair on aManFromMars.

    2. Robert E A Harvey
      Paris Hilton

      "weed out sites that don't offer useful information."

      I call this 'the Guthram Gowt effect'. It is a perfect test case: a bend in the river that goes back to the domesday book but which currently consists of 3 scattered houses, a bus stop, and a rain gauge.

      So you can guarantee that any promise of 'Florists in Guthram Gowt' or 'Jobs in Guthram Gowt' is worthless. And, by simple deduction, the same site's results for any other location will be just as worthless.

      I just ran the test again. Only two of the results on the first page were useful, and then not incredibly so. One from Geograph and one synthetic bus table lookup. All the others are made up nonsense. Sites that have carpet-bombed the world with the name of every place-name possible.

      The first really sensible hit was "" on page 2. Then it went downhill again. with more non-existant jobs, dates, used cars and empty 'community ' pages. The real bus timetable was on page 5.

      You don't need an AI. You just need voting buttons. Ones that agregate every vote for a site, so that downvotes or upvotes for 'Guthram Gowt' hits count against hits for 'Snittlegarth' or 'High Bewaldeth'

      (I'm looking at you ; ; : "User recommendations and reviews of the best things in Graby. Find the best shops, restaurants, bars, nightlife, gigs, services and more." Even Paris could not find a night club in Graby)

      If someone can cure the Guthram Gowt Effect it will be a great thing.

    3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      IBM's Watson has the answer (Google for IBM Watson Jeopardy)

      Bit big for my man cave though...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Google Take Note...

    I hope to hell (but know that its not the case) that someone from Google actually reads these comments. Because I whole heartedly agree with the most thumbed up ones -

    - Only show me the results I searched for!

    - Ban Experts Exchange!

    - Stop interpreting what I search for with your stupid and crap grammar auto-correctors. If I make a mistake whilst spelling a word, I will read a fucking dictionary and then re-search for it. Otherwise, just do what you claim you do, and find me what Im looking for.

    Oh and just incase google doesnt index this comment properly -

    "Live sex asian register google search michael jackson wikileaks bieber is a bell end"


  13. Annihilator Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Bye bye wikipedia then?

    "This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful."

    Does this mean that Wikipedia will no longer be in the top 3 search results of everything that I search for? Awesome..

  14. Donald Becker

    Not only long overdue, just in time

    A high enough percentage of my searches have been returning non-results that I've been ready to switch to a different search engine.

    There are still many, many areas that they have not fixed.

    For instance almost every search for an electronic component datasheet has been blanketed with "buyers" pages. They claim to have the datasheet pdf in the page synopsis, some even have ".pdf" in the URL, but when you go there it's just a generated list of distributors and links to do a search for the datasheet.

    The results have gotten a bit better in the past few days, but Google still far to go. They ignored search result quality long enough that SEO grew into a big business. Now there are tens of thousands of people that spend all of their time trying to game the system. It might already be an entrenched industry that forever degrades search results.

    1. Robert E A Harvey


      ixquick does remarkably well at the Guthram Gowt test

  15. tim-e


    About fucking time! These pages give me the right royals.

  16. bugalugs
    Thumb Up

    @ bell

    Single google response ! Well played.

    " live sex Ugg boots " and no offers !

  17. Displacement Activity

    Stop doing evil when you're found out

    Curious that it's taken so long. Google already has a perfect database of link aggregator sites - all the sites that adwords customers have to manually block to stop click-through scams. Of course, Google gets paid for click-throughs, so perhaps it's not so surprising that it's taken them years to do something about this.

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