What is content farm?
A content farm is a company that uses search algorithm data to create articles, videos, and other media that are designed to rank high on search engines. Content farms employ a large pool of freelancers who select or are assigned ideas from a list compiled by analyzing user search data. The main purpose of a content farm is to maximize the page views and revenue generated by advertising on those pages while minimizing the cost and time it takes to create the content.
Content farms are also known as content mills and content factories.
Content farms are a hotly debated topic. In general, they come under fire for two reasons:
The quality of the content: Content farms tend to pay freelancers much less than industry averages. This has two consequences for the content farm. First, they generally don't attract skilled or experienced writers. Second, the content produced reflects the pay the writers will not be spending that long on a given play. It also means that common mistakes or falsehoods are multiplied across the online content, as content farms rarely put the time into fact-checking.
The methodology: content farms game search algorithms to some extent. They learn what users are looking for and deliver content that matches those search criteria. This can lead to multiple articles breaking down the same concepts, all with the quality requirements outlined above. These articles can also have better meta-data and SEO optimization so that they can deliver potentially higher quality results from search rankings.
Proponents of content farms point out that many of the articles fill gaps in content on the Internet. That said, the articles cover topics that, while useful, are far too simple for most sites to consider. Examples include 'how to cook oatmeal in a slow cooker' or 'how to react when you feel ridiculous'. It is argued that once such articles stand up through page rank, more reputable sites (for example, a cooking site) will see the need to write a more authoritative article on the subject.
In this sense, content farms would act as content speculators seeking quick and temporary profits by leveraging undeveloped areas of content. However, with search algorithms so high right now, the quality content that goes beyond the mass production of content farms is mathematically challenging. For this reason, many search engines rearrange their results to reflect qualitative measures such as the trustworthiness of sources.