With the recent crackdown, or should I say expected crackdown, on content farms, many owners of content-based websites are worried about their future. After all, there is no formal definition about what constitutes a content farm.
A farm is the place where crops grow. So does that mean that any place that grows crops is a farm? In a similar vein, a content farm spits out a lot of content. So does that mean that any site generating a lot of content is a content farm?
Naturally, in labeling a site as a content farm, it would be illogical to simply look at the quantity of content generated. So, that once again begs the question: What is a content farm?
I think the answer will be found not so much in quantity, as in quality. Any site, regardless of its size, should be labeled as a content farm, if it solely produces content for the sake of producing content. It should be regarded as a content farm, if its content is primarily created for search engines.
Now that leads us to a second-order problem. How do you decide what site is creating content solely for the purpose of creating content? Of course, a human reader, with a high degree of proficiency, could make that judgment. But the Googles and Yahoos of the world do not want to physically read every document on the Internet before deciding its worth.
I have a solution, and it is one that I have always favored. At the very least, documents written in poor language, should be demoted in search rankings. After all, language is the medium by which written communication takes place. So if your language is bad in the first place, I would regard that as a strong signal that the content itself would be inferior.
Of course there will be certain errors in this sort of judgment, and Google will have to come up with methods to reduce those errors of judgment. But the fact still remains: good writing has now become the writing on the wall.
I know what you’re thinking. Does that not lead us to a third order problem? How does one decide whether a document has good language? Luckily for us, unlike the earlier two problems, there is a high degree of standardization in language. Machines are able to make reasonable estimates about the quality of language. You could check out the readability statistics in Microsoft Word to understand what I’m talking about. Also remember that a highly respected examination such as the GMAT uses a robot reader, to evaluate written essays.
So it can be done!
What is the take away from my argument? Quite simply: You need to start looking closer at the quality of your content, and not just quantity. After all, one page at position one of Google, is better than 100 pages, with a similar level of competition, if they are all at position hundred for their respective key phrases. Don’t you agree?
The author of this article, Ajeet Khurana, is a twice-published book author with McGraw-Hill. After two decades of writing, Ajeet has decided to start writing about writing. His new site talks about common dilemmas that writers face: “then” vs. “than,” parallel construction, and much more.