Saturday, December 16

Is The End Near For Content Farms?

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We’ve all run across content farms. You pop onto Google or Bing and do a search. What pops up is a list of links that is about useless. Many of the links lead to articles that are of poor quality, often practically useless and not very informational.

It gets frustrating.

But from where do these articles and links come? Often from content farms, websites that utilize vast quantities freelance writers to come up with online content, usually articles but sometimes videos, artwork and even music. The pay at such sites is usually quite low, but with a lot of work the writers can earn extra income, some even being able to make a living from content farms. Many of the writers are not professionals, but some are, and of those who are amateurs, often they find they can use their experiences at the content publishing sites to build their writing experience, growing stronger as writers.

And that’s all good for the writers. But what about readers and those perusing the Internet?

Most hate content farms. If you don’t believe, do a Google search for the term “content farms,” the term itself considered somewhat derogatory. Then spend some time checking out blogs where content farms are mentioned. Often, a seething hatred will come through.

It’s easy enough to understand why. People want good content, and content farms have a reputation for bad content.

But Google might be changing all this. How? Google recently made available a new extension for its Chrome Web browser. This extension, known as Personal Blocklist, allows Chrome users to easily block sites from results of their search engine results. Basically, the extension adds a button to the top of a toolbar in the Chrome browser, and all a user has to do is click that button when they come across a site they wish to block. That’s it. Then the domain of that site will never again show up in the user’s searches.

Of course the extension has an option so the user can go back and allow a site into his or her searches. People do change their mind from time to time, after all.

Now, to be clear, this Chrome extension can be used for any online site, not just content farms. But Googleappears to be responding to users who are frustrated with content farms.

Is this the end?

Does this mean content farms will soon be a thing of the past?

Not likely.

The extension is only available for the Chrome browser, and there are still a lot of other Web browsers out there. Though it’s quite possible other companies will take a page from Google’s playback and will soon offer their own extensions to block sites. More than likely, that process would take as long as six months to a few years.

Also, not everyone is going to know about the Personal Blocklist extension, and it will take a while for word of mouth to spread.

So, content farms will still be with us for some while, at least as long as they are still making money.

Speaking of money

This Chrome extension from Google brings up another issue. Money.

Many of the content farms out there, and other related content producing websites, utilize Google’s AdSenseadvertising program. It’s how those sites make money, and how many of the sites’ writers are paid. ThroughAdSense, the content farms also make money for Google, possibly millions of dollars annually.

So Google is in a bit of a conundrum. Google makes loads of money through content farms, yet now it is providing a means for Web browsers to block such sites.

And where money is involved, there is usually found a way to circumvent any means used to block making that money.

Which means content farms are likely to be with us for a long, long time. They might change, they might find new ways to infiltrate Google rankings (as they have in the past by utilizing SEO and other online marketing tactics), but online content publishers are going to be with us for a while.

And if not, something new will come along to take its place for writers, pros and amateurs, who are trying to make a buck. If you don’t believe, go do another Google search. Use the words “writing for money.”

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