content farming

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Content farming describes an online business model that produces content at a very high frequency and monetizes it through online advertising. However, this content is usually not very exclusive due to the strategy and offers little added value over other content because it has been “farmed”.

Definition

A content farm (also known as a content mill) is a business model in which content is generated with as little effort as possible to be effectively marketed through advertising and search engine optimization. Content farming is often seen as low quality because the amount of search queries and certain formats such as guides, tutorials, how-to guides or FAQs are used to create it.

The contents are oriented towards the best possible marketing opportunities and are usually optimised according to SEO criteria in order to achieve high rankings in search engines with little creation and maintenance effort. To create enough content, Content Mills draws from a pool of freelancers who take on contract work. They often identify suitable content by means of SEO analysis, whereby topics with a high search volume in particular are played with in order to achieve as many page impressions as possible.

The goal: to produce as many articles as possible for as many readers as possible in order to place advertising in this content and generate a high ROI (return of investment).

Search engines now view content farms critically and, in some cases, downgrade them in search results through algorithm updates.

Content Farming and SEO

While it used to be relatively easy to achieve good search engine rankings with these strategies, the importance has decreased since the quality of the websites has taken on a greater role. Google’s Panda and Core updates in particular have hurt the ranking of such sites. In addition to websites with questionable content, the focus was also on aggregators that only produce a small amount of content themselves, or sites with thin and duplicate content.

Good to know: This also includes article directories.

Google likes to proclaim the well-known slogan “Content is King”, although by now it should rather be “Exclusive Content is King“. As a result, numerous content farms have responded by making changes to their strategies. But if users are still looking for answers to simple questions or want to be entertained, content farms will continue to be a source of traffic that offers the prospect of advertising revenue. The same goes for the entertainment sector with websites that have become popular on social media.

content farming
Image: tashatuvango / Adobe Stock

Criticism of content farming

Content farms are criticized for various reasons: On the one hand, various sites criticize the quality of the texts created – the freelancers are often not professional copywriters and are only trained in SEO measures to achieve the highest possible ranking in search results.

According to this, the content often does not represent any added value for the users, because the focus is on the use of the correct keywords as well as the corresponding keyword density, according to the criticism. The content is in many cases superficially prepared and in some cases poorly researched and written.

On the other hand, there is criticism that content farming would push higher quality content out of search engine rankings. This has to do with the SEO techniques of the operators and the mass of content that the companies produce.

That’s why search engines like Google and Yahoo are constantly working to improve their ranking algorithms to ensure higher quality search results. Google’s Panda update has made content farming significantly more difficult, as it is no longer as easy to achieve good results in rankings.

Another criticism of content farming is the working conditions of freelance content creators. According to critics, they often receive very low wages, while the site operators make high profits. This undermines the business model of professional authors and editors because a mass of cheap content is available. The freelancers also had to produce numerous texts in order to be able to finance themselves, which resulted in a high workload.

Conclusion

Content farming primarily provides quick answers to the questions of everyday life with a lot of content. The focus is often on instruction manuals, guides and the like, which then generate revenue through online advertising. This approach has come under criticism. Google updates mean that it is becoming more difficult to pursue this business model. Content farms are thus encouraged to produce higher quality content.

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