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.
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!
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