Content Farms vs. Hiring a Freelance Writer
During those Dark Ages of the Internet when websites were amassing huge collections of search-engine-optimized text, the demand launched a new content writing industry for websites. These content farms (my nickname for them) competed on a low-price business model, and writers were assembled that could produce dozens of low-priced “articles” per day. And, the only information they needed from you was your target keyword.
Unfortunately, these content farms are still around. While researching to build this site, I found one that sells 200-word “articles” for $22. They guarantee that their writers speak good English and that you will have your content in about 3 days. While this sounds like a good deal, Google doesn’t agree.
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In fact, Google has made a series of updates to their search algorithm to ensure that Websites that are better for humans score better in search results than websites made for other purposes (i.e., generating advertising revenue or written to game search engine results). For example, in their Panda update in February of 2011, their search algorithms were altered to lower the rankings of websites that offer a poor user experience. Poorly designed websites, and Websites comprised of mostly advertisements dropped in search rank.
Google pushed harder in this direction with their Penguin update in April of 2012. The changes to the search algorithms were designed to lower the value of keyword stuffed content, websites that used linking schemes, and other “black-hat” SEO techniques.
The message is very clear. If you build a Website that is genuinely useful to humans, the search engines will also like the content. Google wants human-centered content, and the more real value your pages give to your Website visitors, Google will recommend your pages to searchers more often.