The search engine wars have been heightened since January, when TechCrunch contributor Vivek Wadhwa wrote about why we need a better system of search, because his college students could no longer find the information they were looking for due to spammy results.
Since then, both JC Penney and DecorMyEyes have been called out for questionable search-related business practices, as have content farms like eHow and content aggregators like the Huffington Post. Google has accused Bing of scraping its results, and both Google and newcomer Blekko have taken very public steps to block sites that attempt to game the system.
Before he hosted a search Q&A panel at SXSW, I sat down with Search Engine Land founder Danny Sullivan to talk about the viability of building a business on Google, his opinion on the Google vs. Bing vs. Blekko “smackdown,” what search engines are doing to try to filter out lower quality content, and what he thought about the difference between a quality driven company like Stack Exchange versus the volume driven Demand Media.
“I don’t think it’s a spam problem as much as it is that you have a lot more low quality content, that’s not necessarily spam and that’s kind of purporting to answer a question and that kind of gives you the answer. It’s fast-foodish when you’d rather have a dinner.”
“The content farms are somehow seen as leeching on Google, not necessarily contributing quality content back.”
“I was on MSN yesterday and one of the headline articles on MSN was ‘Search: Some Topic’ inspiring people there to go off and do searches. I don’t know if that’s a great story, but it’s certainly going to generate some searches for Bing.”