Read Write Web has an article on content farms and the impact on search. We discussed content farms at an executive roundtable at Webtrends a bit as well… real-time analytics will definitely play a role.
Content farms are publications sites that publish content to grab search engine traffic for profit. Hmmm… sounds a little like blogging for search to me. I actually think content farms are a great idea and will probably improve Google’s search engine results.
Google doesn’t care.
They’ll act like they care (just like they act like they aren’t evil), but they don’t care. Here’s why:
- The fact is that Google’s search engine sucks and continues to get worse. If content farms drive answers to the top of the search results that answer my query, I’ll be happy. Google has conditioned us to click on a result, back up, click on a second result, back up, click on a third result, requery with different wording and do it all over again. The volume of content Google is able to index is mind-blowing, but the results suck.
- Google’s revenue model is to sell advertising, not produce quality search results. If Google produces a result for you that isn’t what you were looking for, but the results page has a couple pay-per-click ads that are compelling, Google just got rewarded for its crappy result. There’s a lot of pay-per-click inventory out there… and Google needs somewhere to put it.
- As long as Google sustains its market share, it’s going to hang onto that market share for a very long time. Once again, Google has conditioned its users to work around its shortcomings. They have done so successfully – it’s why Bing may be a better search engine but is having a difficult time peeling away market share.
- Every blog is a content farm, and most bloggers who understand search seed blog posts to target greater search engine traffic. I absolutely observe my search engine traffic, track keywords, and work to place great content that will drive more traffic. How do you distinguish a content farm from a quality publication? I’m not sure you can.
I think content farms are a solid business. Heck – I just launched Marketing Tech Vendors… it’s basically a content farm of Marketing Technology tools, products and services. I have one exception, though. There are a ton of aggregation sites out there that seed content but provide no value of their own.
One such site is actually well-known and beloved by the Silicon Valley boys… Mahalo (link intentionally omitted). Aaron Wall has done a fantastic job in tracking Mahalo’s continued strategy of pushing content that isn’t their own. Additionally, Jason Calacanis also knows – since he pushes those trending topics and Mahalo pages through social media to drive more traffic.
What does this mean for Marketers? It’s not good news… it means that you’re not only fighting the competition for search engine ranking, you’re also competing with content farms who wish to divert traffic to their sites for profit.
When content farms attract enough search engine ranking and traffic that they are able to support their own ad distribution system that is more profitable than Google… only then will Google cry foul and begin doing something about this.