Content Farms vs. Hiring a Freelance Writer

Image of an Iowa FarmDuring 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–and, content farms flourished like Iowa corn in the middle of July.

These content farms competed on a low-price business model, and writers were assembled that could produce dozens of low-priced “articles” per day. They would work for pennies and hour and the only information they needed was your target keyword.

Unfortunately, these content farms are still around. While researching to build my website, I found one that sells 200-word “articles” for $22 who guarantee that their writers speak good English and that you will have your content in about 3 days. I found another service that offers writers $0.001 per word.  (Yes–that is correct.  The writer earns ONE PENNY for every 10 words that they write.)  While these may sound like good opportunities for purchasing content for your Website, Google wouldn’t agree.

Google has made a series of updates to their search algorithm to ensure that Websites that provide better content for humans score higher in search results than websites made for other purposes (i.e., generating advertising revenue or 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 as a result.

Google pushed harder in this direction with their Penguin update in April of 2012. These 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 feel that you can simply buy a pile of cheap, poorly written words from a content farm for your website to pile on loads of organic search traffic, think again.

If you build a Website that is genuinely useful to humans, however, the search engines will also like that content and reward you with more traffic. Google wants human-centered content, and the more value your pages give to your Website visitors, the more Google will recommend your pages to searchers.


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