Content farms and Google

A lot has been talked in the past one week about Google‘s new search engine ranking algorithm update that takes on the so called content farms. Facebook and twitter are full of messages related to some blogs being blacklisted are content farms.

Content farm definition: According to wikipedia

In the context of the World Wide Web, the term content farm is used to describe a company that employs large numbers of often freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines. Their main goal is to generate advertising revenue through attracting reader page views.

(The above wiki page was updated several times since Google’s announcement on algorithm update and its content neutrality has been disputed)

So, what exactly could be content farms

Based on the above definition, I would think that the following category of websites easily fall under this tag based on the content farm business model that they follow:

  • Article directories that has 100s of thousands of articles produced by several hundred authors and many of the content is duplicated
  • Multi-blogger blogs that churns out one or more search engine targeted content by employing guest bloggers or permanent writers. Mind you, there are always exceptions
  • Auto blogs and scraper sites that republish content of multiple source feeds

The above explanation is based on the multi-author and duplicate content aspects of the content farm definition. However, from what I have seen on the blogosphere even those blogs that ‘aggregate’, ‘refurbish’, ‘replicate’, ‘polish and publish’ content that is already available on the Internet for monetization purpose qualify to be called content farms. Does that mean that 75% or even 90% of the blogs out there are content farms? Perhaps, yes.

Good blogs whacked…

Just read on facebook that Amit Agarwal’s blog is tagged a content farm by Google. This is his feeling after he saw a traffic drop in the recent days. Since it doesn’t come under the category of multi-blogger blog or something that refurbish content (there may be some such content), I would think that generic changes have affected him as well. The problem with any algorithmic update is that there cannot be a generic approach that covers all types of websites and blogs – we have millions of them out there. So, I am tempted to believe that even good sites can get affected by Google’s policy changes – technical or otherwise.

Why blame Google?

I don’t really blame Google for whatever they are doing. It is a publicly listed company that – on top of other services and products – has a search engine which aggregates data and serves whoever is asking for it. It’s up to them how they want to categorize or index that web data based on the relevancy as they see it and present it for the information seekers. If you are not satisfied with their approach can you really blame them? As I have maintained many times before, if your business model is too much dependent on Google only you have to be blamed for the same or live with what you get.

Other forms of content spam

I am not sure if I should call the following type of content seeds, sprouts or saplings that contribute to the content farm spam.

– Somebody who wrote about 3 free tools to do something, another person improvised it with some delta (5 amazing tools to do the same thing) and may be yet another blogger doing 5 amazing tools + one bonus tool to do the same crap

– Topics such as ‘Make money via affiliate marketing, AdSense, site flipping’ or things that you have read 100 times elsewhere (By the way, not forgetting some of my old posts)

– Okay, you got a news from Mashable or Engadget. Now add one or two lines on what you think about it and add as your own new post because you are not spammer but a qualified enrichment officer.

– New rocket scientist created mobile phone features (republished from it’s actual specifications site)

Guest blog posts such as ‘How to insert Google Analytics code on to your blog’ that defame the author who have posted wonderful things in the past. Isn’t he promoting content spam and making a content farm out of his established blog?

You can see numerous other examples if you look around. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Google takes on the whole make money blogging business model and the spammers around.

Happy blogging!


  1. The new google algo not affected me, no decrease in my organic traffic. i heard that some popular blogs struggles with the new algo.

  2. Is there any change (mild/drastic) in the organic traffic to your blog?

    • @Sujay, absolutely no reduction in my traffic and in fact, I have a feeling that, it’s slighly on the upper side. I may be able to tell only in a few weeks if it’s a real positive trend.

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  4. Peoples who have traffic from and if they are getting traffic from those 12% traffic of keywords. Only these people will see huge drop in traffic. So, those who are not getting any drop are just lucky for time being.

  5. Hmmm. Interesting. I think its actually a good policy by Google and if they’re going to be fair with all blogs as far implementing this, then I don’t have any problems with it..

    • @Melvin, that’s right.. the rule has to be fair to promote a level playing field. At the same time, they should not punish good high traffic blogs as well.

  6. Great post Ajith,

    Thanks for giving the insight into content farms.

    As far as my site goes, My traffic has not dropped too much.

  7. My blog is getting nearly the same no. of visits through search engine. However, can you tell any other way to find out if my blog is blacklisted by google or not ?

  8. Its a welcome step from google to avoid sites which contain more number of keywords than the content on th page. A
    s Ajith mentioned, Google is just a search provider and we cannot blame it. All we can do is concentrate more on the content rather than on SEO, especially the blackhat tricks.
    I admire the author for “Why blame Google” part of the post.

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