Content Farms Under Fire
Google’s recent change on how it ranks websites has rained a fiery storm on alleged “content farms” like eHow and answerbag. The term “content farms” stems from the business strategy of producing thousands of articles on a daily basis in an effort to answer every possible search inquiry submitted to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! This business strategy has been extremely effective for sites like eHow. And many others have been following suit. The concern arises when the content delivered is essentially regurgitated from some other source without delivering proper credit or directing traffic to the source site. Because of this, the content is being labeled as spam and Google has decided to weed out unwanted results in its effort to deliver the highest quality and best matched results for every search.
I like to think there can be a happy medium for any conflict. In this case, the encyclopedia-like concept behind the accused content farmers is being ridiculed for being low quality. If more and more traffic lands on content farms, the farmer is getting the credit as soon as you click on their site. It doesn’t matter how long you stay on their site because they’re only interested in serving a particular need – that is, whatever keyword you’re searching for. Higher quality sites developed by small business owners and other entrepreneurs are interested in attracting and keeping traffic. Something called “conversion” is when a visitor becomes a consumer and buys into the product or service. Centered on a more traditional business model, the higher quality sites may seem more valuable to the creator, but the search engines are only concerned with quality through the eyes of the searcher. So if an encyclopedia type answer is awarded the same or more credibility as an in-depth expert answer in the eyes of a search engine, then the traditional concept of “quality” must be reconsidered in light of search marketing principles. So the happy medium may be a handful of quick answers as well as in-depth explanations to capture the search engine’s attention and encourage visitors to dig deeper into the site. A website that only has one or the other will eventually fall to the end of the search results.
Content farms are also causing quite a frenzy among freelance writers around the world. While writers used to be regarded as professionals and were paid accordingly, now there is a new pool of amateur writers willing to the same work for less. Content farms that are more concerned with keyword density than the actual quality and originality of the content are happy to hire the cheap labor. They’re only interested in directing traffic to their site for advertising purposes. A talented writer should have a natural flow to their writing style which effortlessly satisfies targets for keyword density, word count, and overall quality. Businesses that employ truly talented writers are sure to beat out the content farms in the long run.
The future of Google may depend heavily on how it handles so-called spam from content farms. As the future unfolds, it will be interesting to see how other search engines like Bing and Yahoo! respond. I am certainly no expert, but I believe Google is making the right decision to eliminate spam from search results; however, only time will tell whether or not their approach is working.
Posted on April 6, 2011, in News and tagged advertising, algorithm, Bing, Content farm, content quality, conversion, freelance writers, Google, keyword density, search, search marketing, SEO, spam, web content, Web search engine. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.