Blogging is very powerful as we all know, and at the same time it is fun and exciting too. Even better is the fact that it can get you a lot of money by way of ads, sponsors, reviews, affiliate sales, etc. But the problem is… today, a lot of blogs (especially multi-author blogs — no offense) are becoming content farms.
First things first. What is a content farm?
Content farm (also known as a content mill) is basically a company that hires a lot of “niche writers” to write search engine friendly content so as to get organic traffic from search engines and ultimately make money selling ads.
So, their primary goal is to generate as much page views as possible to make even more money per visit (it reduces their cost of content creation). That’s why instead of linking out to external web pages they try to keep the visitor within their website by interlinking their own content.
I think content mills became popular in mid-2000s (maybe because of Wikipedia’s success) after the launch of Google AdSense. Because it was super-easy to generate a lot of Google traffic by publishing more and more search engine friendly content (no matter if it’s helping users or not).
A classic example is About.com or Answers.com. They are not as popular as they used to be but still they are successfully doing it. If you check the indexing status of about.com then you can see that it’s got over 9 million indexed pages on Google and they are all optimized for search engines.
For instance, you could choose a topic, let’s say ‘Health’, and then write as many health articles as possible. The more content you publish the more traffic you receive. It was that simple!
Because along came the “Google Panda”. Google released an algorithmic update called the Google Panda back in February 2011 to identify and filter out low quality content from their search results. So, it rewarded high quality websites and at the same time penalized article directories, press release sites, low quality blog networks, and all the so-called content farms (including the massively popular Demand Media).
Since then, there were more algorithmic updates by Google to improve their search quality. And the good thing is… it makes SEO simpler (but more expensive). Why? Because Google is becoming more human.
Blogs Are The New Content Farms (Sort Of)
Today, the problem is not article directories or media companies. It’s “blogs” itself.
Blogging is now a phenomenon that is attracting new writers every single day. And they all start with the hope or idea of making money selling ads.
It’s like people want to start a blog to make money and not because they need to write/publish something.
The saddest thing is… your favorite blog is also becoming a content farm today. And you didn’t even notice it!
Of course, there are exceptions. Not all blogs are content farms like Jeffrey Swartz has mentioned:
There are exceptions, of course. Some sites exist because their creators love to produce content that will help, amuse or entertain people just for joy of doing it. Others include brilliant blogs like this one (ahem) in which underappreciated scribes toil endless hours for a little recognition. Oh hell, truth is we don’t have ads because we’re not big enough to attract them. Bugger!
Today, a good percentage of those authority multi-author blogs are becoming content farms. They are reposting the same topic over and over. Except that the new version is either written by another author or it could be a guest post.
What do we (readers) get? Nothing.
I am not criticizing any of my peers, and in fact I love blogs. I love to read interesting content irrespective of whether it’s technology, marketing, self-improvement, entrepreneurship, or even lifestyle.
I was just highlighting a blogging trend that’s annoying me — because it’s so common today. A few months back, I was following over 75 tech and marketing blogs via Feedly and now I have reduced the number to less than 30.
The reason….. information overload. And it became worse when the blogs I once admired started publishing mediocre/promotional/guest posts. The result? I have unsubscribed all of them and is now following only single-author blogs.
If you are a wanna-be blogger then make sure you want to start a blog to speak your mind (or to showcase your awesomeness) rather than with the purpose of creating an income stream.
For instance, when I started Minterest back in 2006 (as a personal finance blog) it was actually a “Made For AdSense” blog and was my first WordPress.org powered blog.
Gradually, when I transformed the blog into a technology and marketing blog, it was literally “Just another WordPress blog” (yes, that’s the default tagline of a new WordPress.org powered blog) as I was writing content that was easily findable elsewhere on the web.
Later in 2012, I revamped the entire blog with a new design and content strategy. Now the blog has become my personal journal where I curate content. You know why? I also believe that… content curators are the new superheroes of the web. ;)
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