It is not easy to label something ‘Content Farms’ to the companies that have huge presence in the web. Yes, many produce large amounts of inexpensive, search-engine-optimized content usually of very low value to the readers. These sites were mutually beneficial to Google and ‘content farm’ sites in terms of ad revenues. Now, Google has taken steps to de-rank such sites.
The SEO pundits have been suggesting webmasters to use such sites to increase their search visibility. Some of the popular such sites like EzineArticles, Hubpages, wisegeek, Associated Content (Yahoo’s), Suite101, Mahalo, Flixya and other such sites.
One of the most surprised (and vocal) was the publisher of CultOfMac website, Leander Kahney. He claims, ‘We can go toe-to-toe with any other tech news site out there.’
Another popular ‘content farm’ site, Demand Media’s eHow, however seems to have benefited from the steps Google has taken. Three other sites of Demand Media, namely Trails, Livestrong, and AnswerBag, were however affected by the Google algorithm change.
In response the EzineArticles CEO Chris Knight says:
Google has a lot of smart PhD types working on this problem that I believe is not over by a long-shot. Reason: If you do a query for popular terms that we formerly ranked very high with, instead of an EzineArticles result, you may find low-quality sites that deliver even lower value to the user than our own members’ content! This is frustrating for sure.
In a bid to become more relevant, they Chris wrote a long list of modification. I have copied some of them here with my comment in the brackets:
- no longer accept article submissions via WordPress blogs directly (I didn’t know that. Anybody can guess the uniqueness of such articles.)
- reject another 10+% of article submissions that are not unique enough (means: they had been accepting non-unique articles – even by their own definition).
- Raise minimum article word count to 400. (does word stuffing increases the article quality?)
The whole article is nothing but the desperate attempt to get itself back in Google. Time will only tell if that is enough effort.
12 percent search traffic is a huge volume of traffic and many website are going to be affected. Those not affected will have a chance to get a positive surge in search ranking to fill the void created by the removal of content farm. Social networking sites and news portals might be sites that benefit the most.