You have probably run into content farms without even realizing it. What's that, you ask? A content farm is a web site that has large quantities of low-quality text, often written by poorly-paid freelancers. The content is designed to be search-engine friendly and to generate large numbers of page-views, which leads to revenue from advertising on the page. (For examples of content farms, see www.ehow.com, www.123people.com and www.allexperts.com.) Often, when I am researching a topic, I find a number of articles from content farms on the first page of search results. Fortunately, we now have a couple of ways to avoid encountering content farm manure.
First, consider using Google's Domain Blocker. It's still in development, so some features are still changing, but here's how it works. First, you need to be signed in to Google and using the google.com site. In the search results page, if you click on a link and then use the browser BACK button you'll see a new option for that hit: Block all [domain name] results. If you don't like what you saw on that page and don't want that site to show up in any other future search results, click that link. You can also manually block any unwanted domains by going to www.google.com/reviews/t.
Another option is to search using Blekko.com, a fairly new search engine that features filters (called slash tags) that let you limit your search result. You can create your own filters and you can use the public ones (see www.blekko.com/tag/show?t=3 for the list). In addition to that cool feature, Blekko has removed from its index all content from 20 content farms. I'll be covering Blekko in more detail in my next newsletter; at this point, I encourage you to give Blekko a try, particularly for searches that turn up a lot of spammy sites.