Is Curation The Answer To Search Spam?

Much has been written lately about the lower quality of Google’s search results. A poll by Lifehacker found that 77% agreed that Google search results had “become less useful to you lately.”

If search is becoming less useful then how will we navigate the web?

The answer is by curation, by using the recommendations of others acting as curators.

Paul Kedrosky writing on Infectious Greed:

… the re-rise of curation is partly about crowd curation — not one people, but lots of people, whether consciously (lists, etc.) or unconsciously (tweets, etc) — and partly about hand curation (JetSetter, etc.). We are going to increasingly see nichey services that sell curation as a primary feature, with the primary advantage of being mostly unsullied by content farms, SEO spam, and nonsensical Q&A sites intended to create low-rent versions of Borges’ Library of Babylon. The result will be a subset of curated sites that will re-seed a new generation of algorithmic search sites, and the cycle will continue, over and over.

But we need good curation tools. The most comprehensive one I’ve found is Pearltrees (Pearltrees is a consulting client) and here are my reasons:

- Pearltrees allows you to curate anything that is found online. That’s not true for most other curation services.

- Pearltrees has a team feature that allows groups of people to curate a subject.

- Pearltrees curation can be added to other Pearltrees, it is shareable and searchable; it is durable; it is automatically part of a community in ways that a “curated” list of sites on a web page isn’t.

- Curation by itself is not an ideal substitute for search. You do need algorithms to help in navigation. And this is another area where Pearltrees has something unique: a powerful search algorithm that surfaces the content of similar Pearltrees — which is a great way of discovering new, spam-free content.

But there is one area where curation cannot help search — in real-time content. This is an area that will always be vulnerable to spammy SEO tactics because you need machines to index real-time content and that means being vulnerable to the many gaming techniques used by spammers.

The big question for Google is if it has lost the war with spammers or merely a battle?

Google can lose the war but it can never win it — it’s a war that cannot ever be won. Which means curation will become ever more important in our relationship to the Internet.

What would you curate? What’s your expertise?

[Cross-posted at Silicon Valley Watcher]

About Tom Foremski

Tom Foremski is a former Financial Times journalist. He has been covering Silicon Valley since his arrival from London in 1984. In May 2004 he became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper to make a living as a journalist blogger, publishing Silicon Valley Watcher - reporting on the business and culture of innovation. Tom’s understanding of diverse technologies and his access to global business leaders, make him one of the most prominent media influencers in the technology world.