What is a Content Farm
A content farm is a business that focuses resources on building vast amounts of low value web content with the aim of attracting free search engine traffic. Content farms tend to employ low cost writers to produce low value content, with the content being, in many cases, scraped from other websites. This content is naturally enough subject to copyright and so it is not uncommon for legitimate content owners to take legal action against content farms who are exploiting copyright material without authorisation or payment.
Gaming the search engines
Content farms spend a lot of time trying to game the search engine algorithms so that the content they produce is “tuned” to match high volume, high value searches. If they can do this then they frequently monetize the content with advertising.
From the search engines’ perspective, content farms tend to deliver a lot of low quality search results (see SERP) that ultimately reflect poorly on the search engine itself which is clearly damaging for the long term health of the business.
According to Wikipedia as of 25 February one content farm is publishing one million articles a month. Content is often created by homeworkers who may get paid a few dollars a time which in low cost economies can make a significant difference to someone’s lifestyle.
What constitutes quality content?
Of course it is not an easy job determining the quality of an article but one measure might well be the average amount of time a reader spends on the page with the article on it. For example if lots of people do a search on Google for a particular phrase and there are 3 sites that rank high in the results page and you, along with hundreds of others, spend 2 minutes reading the first two sites but only 15 seconds on the third, it is likely that the third site has lower quality content on it. It would certainly be possible for a sophisticated search engine to take this information into account in giving the site a quality score. A cruder measure would be to use the bounce rate of a site.
Content Farms, whilst they often publish a huge range of articles, are not actively involved in article marketing which is a much more sutle kind of internet marketing.