Writing for SEO: Why Content Farms Mean More Work and Higher Pay for SEO Writers


If you follow SEO news, you’ve probably read a lot about content farms lately. If you don’t know what this is, a brief explanation is given below.

Content farms are one of the reasons SEO writing is exploding, which bodes well for freelance writers who embrace this niche. If your brow is furrowing because you know what content farms are and you’re wondering how they heck they can be good for freelance writers, read on. I’ll explain. But first, let’s get those who may not know what content farms are on board.

What are Content Farms?

These are websites comprised of a lot of content (almost always contributed by freelance writers), and usually are built around attaining high search engine rankings on many different topics. The primary goal of sites deemed content farms is to generate ad revenue. This in and of itself, however, is not the problem. After all, all for-profit sites exist to make money in one form or another.

The reason these sites are deemed “content farms” is that usually contain a lot of content of inferior quality that outrank sites with better content. In other words, the quality of the content is not given as much weight as the revenue it could produce.

For example, if you wanted information about breast cancer, you’d probably want to read an article on Komen.org or Cancer.gov, not some random site you’d never heard of, right? But, because many times articles on content farms outrank content from highly respected sources, they’ll show up first.

Some sites the label content farm have been leveled at are eHow.com (owned by Demand Media), AssociatedContent.com and Answers.com. There are many others.Post continued below.

Making Lemons into Lemonade: Why Content Farms Spell Opportunity for Freelance Writers

As we discussed in the post on InkwellEditorial.com yesterday, more and more companies are pouring money into internet marketing as a whole, and content development in particular. This is, in my opinion, for three reasons:

Why Businesses are Spending on SEO Content

(i) Companies now understand/embrace SEO: It always takes the rest of the world a while to catch up to technology. Just a few short years ago, job titles like SEO copywriter, SEO content strategist and SEO content developer were only known to tech insiders. The techies know it first, then it becomes mainstream a few years later.

Well, SEO is going mainstream now, which means companies are embracing it – and starting to put their funds where their mouths are.

(ii) Returns are Measureable: This is perhaps the main reason SEO is being embraced by so many companies – they can easily measure results. For example, take newspaper advertising. A marketing director may have to wait a few weeks or a few months to accurately judge their return on investment (ROI).

In internet marketing, results can be had at the click of a button in a few hours or less. If, for example, they want to know how that new PPC campaign is going, all they have to do is log into their account and get instant data like how many visitors a page had, the CTR (click thru rate), how many pages a visitor accessed, etc. That’s the power of the web.

The access to instant — and detailed — data like this means that companies get more bang for their buck because they can decide to cut back/spend more/change the direction of a campaign just like that! And, because these decisions are based on real data, it’s less of a risk for them. In fact, it exponentially increases their chance of success.

(iii) It’s Cost Effective: Internet marketing is cheaper than traditional media advertising. When you couple cheaper with a better ROI, is it any wonder companies are pouring dollars into it?

3 Reasons Content Farms Mean More Writing Jobs – and Better Pay — for SEO Copywriters

Now that you know why the market for SEO writing is expanding – and will continue to do so for a long time – let’s look at why content farms are good news for SEO writers.

Brand: A company that cares about their brand sees content writing as an investment, not something they’re looking to get for a pittance. Hence, the inferior quality writing (and writers) that can be found on many content farms are/is not competition for professionals SEO content producers.

Because the need for professionally researched and well-written SEO content is growing, the need for professional SEO writers who know how to conduct research and turn in top-notch content is growing as well.

Note: There are excellent SEO writers all over the place; some work on “content farms” and turn out darned good content. So, this is by no means meant to slam writers who choose to write articles for “content farms” like eHow and AssociatedContent.

I have – and continue to – contribute content to sites like this – precisely because they garner such good search engine juice (ie, the content shows up high in search results (if optimized correctly)).

Continuous Need: Because businesses now understand SEO, they realize that it’s not easy to “pay your way to the top” of search engines – not and stay there — unless you have deep pockets.

One of the best ways for a site to rank high in search engines is to be filled with quality content – and a continuous flood of it. The more often a site is updated with high-quality, unique content, the higher it tends to rank.

One or two batch of keyword stuffed articles ain’t gonna do it. A daily, weekly, monthly and yearly supply is needed. This means the need for a daily/weekly blogger, a monthly columnist, a weekly newsletter writer, a daily tweeter, etc. And, many of these assignments will be farmed out (pardon the pun) to who? Why, professional SEO writers, of course.

Google’s Listening: As the below articles indicate, Google (because it’s the #1 search engine) has been taken to task recently for its crappy results on some searches. The Washington Post article (yes, this topic has made The Washington Post y’all), How you and Google are losing the battle against spam in search results, notes:

Google is facing withering criticism from tech bloggers and search engine experts who say the world’s premier gateway to digital information is increasingly being gamed by spammers. . . . “It’s clear that Google is losing some kind of war with the spammers,” said tech guru Tim O’Reilly . . .

And Google is listening, firing back in the same article saying:

. . . we have seen a slight uptick of spam in recent months, and while we’ve already made progress, we have new efforts underway to continue to improve our search quality . . .

This means (we hope) that a lot of those spammy sites won’t rank because they’ll change their algorithms. In short, gaming the system with keyword-stuffed copy will slowly become a thing of the past (again, we hope).

What this means for sites that do float to the top of search results is that once they get there, they’ll have to continue to produce quality content to stay there. Again, who’s going to be producing a lot of this copy — and be paid very well to do so? Well, professional SEO copywriters of course.

One could say that SEO writing as an industry is maturing – finally. As a freelance writer, are you prepared to grow with it?

Read More on Content Farms

How ‘content farms’ beat Google, and what search engines should do about it

Google Targeting Content Farms, Low Quality & Shallow Content as Spam

What If Content From One Company Dominated Google’s Search Results?

Is This Google Algorithm Change About Content Farms or Not?

Should ‘Write To Rank’ Articles Be Punished by Google?

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