Google was designed to play the role of a passive observer of the internet: web content was created for people, not specific Google queries, and Google would look around, take inventory of what was available, and give it to people who asked. Google’s general, big-picture algorithms probably haven’t changed much since the days when this was relatively accurate.

But that’s no longer what web content looks like. Now, massive amounts of technically-not-spam sites are generated by penny-hungry affiliate marketers and sleazy web “content” startups to target long-tail Google queries en masse, scraping content from others or paying low-wage workers to churn out formulaic, minimally nutritious pages to answer them.

Searching Google is now like asking a question in a crowded flea market of hungry, desperate, sleazy salesmen who all claim to have the answer to every question you ask.