Google’s search algorithm is being polluted by commercial entities that game the system.
Establish a criteria called Commercial Density. Commercial Density refers to the ratio of text content on a page to links to commercial sites (i.e., advertisements) on the same page:
- if the ratio is low (or even zero), then the web page contains little or no ads
- if the ratio is high, then the web pages contain lots of ads and relatively small amount of content.
Right now, well-known consumer products or names of celebrities go to Youtube (no surprise) or metasites or category listings. When searching for Jessica Jay (see my previous article), I notice that most of the search results are meaningless–links to ringtones, song lyrics or Youtube videos. Actually, though the Youtube links are perhaps the cleanest search results I found (no ads), plus the comment section has more information than I find elsewhere.
If I had a way to filter out/exclude content with a high saturation of ads, that would help me find useful content. One reason I end up going to wikipedia first is not that I love wikipedia (See my thoughts about wikipedia and Digital Maoism), but that it’s relatively ad-free.
Alas, even that is changing. Wikipedia’s anti-spam policies ironically is leading to a bias against independent media in favor of mainstream media outlets. Wikipedia may be inadequate, but for now, it’s still all we have.
I don’t dislike ad-supported media. Far from it. For example, New Yorker, Time and even CNN sometimes have great content. But many database-driven sites are savvy at catching search queries regardless of relevance. One sign of this kind of gaming is high commercial density. Google already has a way to filter adult content; why can’t it also filter out things by commercial density as well?