"Unless the spammers are friends of ours, of course."
Spam is a lot like the Force. It suffuses, changes, and in many ways drives every aspect of the Internet. Some 90% of email is spam, and yet most of us (hopefully) don't see 9/10ths of our inbox as spam. Email filters and search optimization have cut down drastically on the amount of spam we have to deal with. But it is still there- and it still likes to make its presence known.
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Google recently admitted to a "slight uptick" of spam in the last few months. They are adamant that, overall, search relevance is higher than it ever has been. English-language spam today is less than half of what it was five years ago.
That's incredibly impressive, but five years also happens to be about four years longer than the average consumer's memory goes back. So nay-sayers (and Microsoft) are sure to take this opprotunity to lay into Google's "declining search quality".
Meanwhile, the search engine is hard at work to cut down on this latest surge in spam. Their focus now is the elimination of "low-quality sites" that draw traffic by stringing together buzzwords and hoping to snare searchers.
Google is quite diligent about fighting spammers...at least the ones they haven't white-listed. See, "content aggregation" sites tend to earn Google's ire. Unless they complain long and loudly enough to earn what amounts to permanent clemency.
Here's the story in brief. For 3.5 years, Google penalized a site called Foundem for being nothing but a content collector. Since Foundem provided a semi-useful service (price comparison), Google was eventually convinced by media outcry to reverse their decision. Even though the search engine blacklists sites just like Foundem every day.
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As always, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And a free pass to "spam" into perpetuity.