What Is a Content Farm?

What Is A Content Farm?

A Content Farm is a website that typically pays a writer a small upfront fee and/or a per view fee to write an article on a predetermined topic pick based upon keywords that receive a high number of searches in the search engines. These articles focus more on keywords and ranking well on Google than delivering high quality useful information that the user is looking for. The main goal of Content Farms isn't to produce high quality articles, it is to attract search engine traffic to generate advertising revenue. With them money is the king, not the content. This would be my own personal definition. Feel free to disagree.

Content Farms usually pay the author between $5 and $15 for a 500-word article. $20 would be the high end of the market. A professional freelance writer would make more like $100 - $500 for something similar.

While different people have different definitions as to what constitutes a Content Farm, all that matters to most publishers online is what Big Google defines it as. So far the big G has not made public a clear definition beyond "shallow or low quality content", so it is still debatable until they do so.

Which Websites Are Considered To Be Content Farms?

While the definition of exactly what constitutes a Content Farm is debatable and thus which sites fall under this category, the most often mentioned Content Farms by far is Demand Media. Demand Media owns eHow.com, Livestrong.com, Cracked.com, TypeF.com, Trails.com, GolfLink.com, AnswerBag.com and several mobile sites. Demand posts more videos daily to YouTube than any other site or person. They produce thousands of YouTube videos and articles daily!

Other often mentioned Content Farms include: Associated Content, which was recently purchased by Yahoo for a reported $90M and Answers.com. Even AOL which at one time was the #1 ISP, Internet Service Provider, way back when we all connected to the Internet using dialup has got into the game. AOL operates Seed.com.

There are many other sites that could be included in this list and will be added in the near future.

Why Content Farms Are Bad For The Internet!

As you can imagine, any article that is written more for a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing than the reader has the cart before the horse so to speak.

Good webmasters have followed a mantra as old as the WWW: Content Is King. High quality unique content should be the main focus with much less emphasis placed upon writing for the search engine bots, AKA spiders.

While there must be some balance between the two so that the content ranks well on the search engines and thus attracts readers, a keyword-stuffed article that focuses more on keyword density than content is nothing but a waste of disk space, bandwidth and the user's time. Much of it, at best is not well-written. The worst is the automatically generated content that is 'spun'. You see there is software that takes as input pre-existing content and it randomly spins the words around to make the output appear unique to the search engines as if someone had actually wrote it. The end result is unreadable garbage that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and offers nothing to the user who is actively searching for knowledge. It does nothing but infect the Internet with useless garbage all in an attempt to trick the search engines into ranking their content highly and fool you the reader into wasting your time by clicking on it.

The biggest reason why content produced for Content Farms is bad when it is of a low quality, is because it clogs up the Internet with useless garbage and makes it that much harder for you and me to find the good quality content among all the rubbish. This is bad for Google too since if it doesn't deliver relevant web pages for your query you will search elsewhere. This would cost Google big money, which is why they are now going after this low quality content with a vengeance with their most recent update being labeled the Google "Farmer" update by Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land.

The content is good enough from a SEO, Search Engine Optimization, perspective to rank highly and garner traffic. Bad enough that users don't find what they are looking for so they often click on an ad to escape the garbage. Do you think that's the plan here, deliver crap content to entice more users to click on the ads? I sure do.

A well written article will naturally include appropriate keywords within it delivering the information the reader seeks, while at the same time exciting Mr. Googlebot so much that you would think he has overdosed on one of them popular little blue pills. I hope Mr. Googlebot's health insurance covers this side effect, because it is likely to last for more than four hours by the time I am done with his poor little bits and bytes. :D


Is HubPages.com A Content Farm?

You may be thinking that I am a bit of a hypocrite talking so much trash about Content Farms, yet here I am writing this hub on one. I would disagree with you on this matter, but you're entitled to your own opinion of course. Let me try to change your mind though if this is what your thinking.

Most people would label websites like HubPages.com as "user generated content". While it may seem to be the same thing it really isn't at all.

For one, no one directed me in any way to write this hub. I chose the topic, images, videos and what to link to, all on my own. I decided to write on this topic because the topic "Content Farms" is currently a hot news item because of the Google "Farmer" algorithm update which targets these type of websites. I am in full control here, not HubPages.com. As long as I do not break HubPages' Terms Of Use agreement I am given total free reign. No one from HP staff is later going to edit this hub or ask me to make any changes as long as it is not deemed to be a 'low quality' or 'overly promotional' hub. Since this has never happened to me yet in my prior 19 hubs it's safe to say it won't happen here either.

Hell, if I wanted to, I could even be slamming HubPages in this hub on their own very web site and they wouldn't say a word to me about it I'm quite sure. Not that I would or that I have any reason to do such a thing as I love this place, but it does illustrate the amount of freedom I enjoy while writing on this website as compared to other places online and how professional this organization really is. Would they like it if I did slam them, surely not? But it does show you how HubPages differs greatly from other websites.

I was not paid one penny upfront nor will I ever be paid any money by HubPages.com in the future for the time and effort I put into writing this hub. Instead, they agree to display my Google AdSense code 60% of the time this page is read. They will get most, if not all, of the other 40%. Same applies if I were to utilize my Amazon affiliation here. This revenue sharing model is totally different from what I would make getting a small one time payment from most Content Farms.

Basically, the more money this hub earns the more we both make, that is HubPages.com and myself. So it is in my best interest to produce a high quality resource that my readers will find useful. At the same time I am using proven SEO methods that will, with any luck, land me on page one of Google for various keywords so that I do make some money off of this hub over a long period of time.

Whereas a Content Farm's main focus is to rank highly on search engines, often with low quality garage articles. My main focus is to deliver what the reader is searching for: informative, resourceful, high quality content that also includes related images, videos and probably a poll or two to keep you engaged and interacting even longer, and of course a comments section where your opinion can be freely expressed. Note that I do moderate and delete any comments that are too far off-topic, contain vulgar language or that are spam.

I am responsible for promoting this hub if I wish to receive any traffic from outside this domain. I would like to say that HubPages will not help me in any sort of way to promote my hub, but that wouldn't be exactly true. If this hub maintains a good Hubscore and it attracts a decent amount of external traffic it will be featured more prominently within this site by various means. Considering this website is one of the top 50 websites in the world traffic wise according to Quancast.com this is rather helpful. It is more so to help me get it to page one on Google than anything else for my purposes.

You see if I was writing this article for one of the evil Content Farms you would have already moved on along because I wouldn't have put as much effort into this to make a lousy $5. Would you? I think not.

My first, and best hub, has so far earned me more in one day than I would have ever been paid if I had instead written it for any of the Content Farms. As of today, 02/27/2011, the total earned is $262.46. Not bad for a few hours of researching and writing, huh? What's really sweet is that it's for just the first year it was published. It very well could, and most likely will, keep making me money for several more years to come. As long as it stays near its current #2 position on Google I'll keep making money, as will HubPages.com. Win, Win, Win. I make money, HubPages.com makes money and most important of all, the reader finds what they were seeking when they came to my lonely hub. Information they can use according to about 99% of the comments within that hub.

If I was a professional writer, which I'm admittedly not, writing for a mainstream media site I surely would have been paid much more upfront. As it stands I'm quite happy with what it has earned me. Besides, It outranks many major websites like CNN.com and their professional writers who did get paid the big bucks. Priceless :)

Is All Content Produced via Content Farms Bad?

No it isn't. I'm sure that many authors do take the time and effort to put forth a good quality article. The problem is most just quickly churn out the bare minimum needed to get paid so they can move on to the next project. Most people who are working under a system that pays such a low amount are only doing what the system encourages them to do. There is very little, if any, incentive for quality.

To be fair, some Content Farms do sometimes also pay a small amount per page view. Think fraction of a penny per view. So, unless the article is getting some serious traffic this extra money doesn't amount to much in most cases.

I have heard the argument that these Content Farms devalue articles so that authors end up earning less money. I'm sure there is some truth to this.

If you are tired of garbage clogging up search results and you use Google's Chrome browser, you can install the Personal Blacklist extension to block a web site from appearing in the results returned when you search.

I encourage you to express you opinion both in the Content Farm Polls and the comment sections below. Registration isn't required for either.

If you found this hub useful, informative or just because you want to show me some geeky love then please be sure to click on the green oval button below to vote this hub up. You can also easily share it with your friends via the 'Share' button. Thank You!

Are Content Farms Bad For The Internet?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Undecided
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Do You Consider HubPages.com To Be A Content Farm?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Somewhat, But Clearly Better Than The Rest.
  • Undecided
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Have You Found HubPages.com To Be Useful To You In The Past?

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Content Farms Video

By Anthony Goodley ©Anthony Goodley 2011 All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Content Farm Comments 15 comments

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks

MyWebs, I agree with your assessment. The fact that Hubpages does NOT pay us anything, that we choose our topics, our slant, and our own keywords shows that we are independent, and it may be this very independence that has triggered the ire of the powers that be.

Personally, I would not want any article to be penalized for the site on which it is published. If we really care about the readers, then the best search engine algorithm is the one that is blind to the site, but open to the content of each individual page on the site.


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 5 years ago from Sheridan, WY Author

Yes each article, hub or web page should be judged individually. I believe this latest Google update is more of a 'slap' directed at certain web sites to get their attention. If so it has done that much, and then some.

Thanks for stopping by Aya Katz


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

I like that Hubpages gives us the freedom to write about what we choose. I also enjoy being able to do this on my blog. I wrote for Demand Media for four months, and towards the end I really hated doing it. I actually put a lot of time into my articles, more than required at times, but they always came back with odd demands. I even had one editor telling me that I should not describe how to make recycled paper out of junk mail and catalogs, but that I should combine these mixtures. I had followed DS guidelines and found different resources that illustrated how to make different types of recycled paper, but the editor did not even look at it. Oh well, I decided after awhile writing there was a waste of my time. I can make more when I just focus on my own articles, and writing my book.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

An excellent piece, and I totally agree that articles should be judged individually, and not by the fact they appear on a certain site. My experience of hubpages has been excellent, and weirdly, although my traffic has been slightly negatively affected since the Google changes, my earnings for the last few days are actually higher than normal.


MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 5 years ago from Henderson, NV

HubPages got slapped hard so apparently Google does in fact believe this is a content farm. I'm still getting close to the same traffic though. So the bottom line is quality content will still win out. I for one am very glad to see a lot of the sites like eZine Articles get slapped hard. I get sick of searching for information and finding the same old useless crap. This recent Google Slap was a huge step in the right direction. And when the content farms drop the quality sites move up.


MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 5 years ago from Henderson, NV

There is a little irony in Google claiming to produce quality content when in fact their entire business model is based on scraping and organizing the content other people create.


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 5 years ago from Sheridan, WY Author

You know Sweetiepie I just can't see writing for anyone at the rate of $5 - $20 per article. I will either write here first and take my chances to rank highly or put it on my own site and keep it all. I can see why you would give up on DS. Thanks for your comments.


MyWebs profile image

MyWebs 5 years ago from Sheridan, WY Author

I'll take making more money over a traffic statistic any day. I'm glad it's working out for you Misty.

I only have one hub that gets enough traffic to have anything worth comparing. Last time I checked since the update my traffic was up slightly even though it slipped from #1 on Google.com to #2. I'm not sure if the drop was before or after the update. It's strange my traffic went up when dropping down the SERP's.

I don't understand why Google would consider hubpages a content farm as their business model is very different than the real ones. User generated content is very different in my opinion. Are they going to slap YouTube next?

I really don't expect HubPages to be slapped for long being a premier Google publisher. Give it a month and I bet things will be back to normal mostly.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Very interesting article. I think some hubbers run their own accounts as "content farms" but I don't think Hub Pages, in general, is a content farm. It seems the majority of people who post here write about things they care about in a genuine way for the purpose of socializing and sharing information.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 5 years ago from North Carolina

Besides my blogs, Hub Pages is where I put my best work. I use Associated Content, among other sites, for back-linking. I agree that a lot of stuff there is sheer junk. There is some really good, solid content there, too. I used to write for eHow before Demand Studios ruined it.

In order to put summaries of hubs and blog posts all over the place, I do use a spinner. I'll write a hub about it eventually, when I've gotten better at it, but basically the one I use lets me choose synonyms for whichever words I want. It also allows me to rewrite whole sentences. If I give it enough options and then proofread the results, I get multiple copies of my own writing style. I like to think that I start out with something good and end up with however many good variants.

I have no particular opinion about Google's latest move and what it means for content farms. There is plenty of mediocre content right here on Hub Pages. I just hope that what I put up on AC and some of the other lesser sites gets enough traffic to boost my traffic here and my AdSense every place. If I get a couple of bucks in advance, so much the better.


Neil74 profile image

Neil74 5 years ago

Your content is very good indeed. It will be a waste if Google sees Hubpages as a content farm.


www.lookseenow profile image

www.lookseenow 5 years ago

Your post on content farms is lengthy, but informative. What I don’t understand yet is how an article becomes a winner, and stays that way for decades to come. Maybe I haven’t been around long enough. I seem to be making progress making my presence known, and my URL is an acronym—it’s lookseenow, it precursors some of my prayers. That makes sense only to me of course, but here’s my appraisal of HubPages:

I am definitely not more interested in SEO, and I am not everybody that’s doing it. My Posts will never contain large numbers of hastily written content; no it will be of genuine interest to the readers, because I take it from an inexhaustible database, the Bible.

People still do read the Bible, so here I am poised at the threshold of the promised land, like Joshua, but the promised land for writers is the lucrative internet. On the web, I read your posts, and you hopefully will read mine, and we will link one to another, while leaving helpful comments. That will Pay-off—so they say—that forms an independent vote of confidence when you will say:

“I am longing to see you, (your profile at least) and read your post that it may impart some spiritual gift for me to be made firm. That’s a forum for an interchange of encouragement among we fellow hubbers by each one through the other’s faith, both your post and mine. (Romans 1:10-11)

I see a similarity in many of the things written aforetime that were written for our instructions so that maybe I can slant Bible headlines to make it palatable by tying it in to Bible protagonist’s stirring events.

Thanks for the informative article.

Regards: Jerry jghn


moneycop profile image

moneycop 5 years ago from JABALPUR

i feel content farming will blow in coming days and as hub pages and Google had made such a strong site where by if a fraud is passing will be penalized. means all you have now is to do right and write right. means net will have good and new original contents all over....


Sky9106 profile image

Sky9106 5 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

So now I know some more and I don't feel the way I was a few seconds ago .

Blessings and thanks .


KU37 profile image

KU37 19 months ago

I see that the comments here go back three and four years. "Good old days," I suppose. I'm in the USA, and I typically will look at the front page of Google News (news.google.com) for headlines from various sources (left, right, center, etc.) to get a sense of the news, and the take that the various political mouthpieces and (hopefully) independent voices have on it. About mid-2014, I noticed an uptick of "Content-Farm" and automated content on this front page, that only increased. I just published an advertising-free Hub about it, "Weekend At Google's".

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