Three years ago a terrible collection of beasts rose from the sea and threatened the Internet we love so dear. These “content farms” churned out low quality prose in SEO-friendly formats to try and garner traffic from Google and other search engines. This traffic was then converted into dollars via ads, affiliate programs, commerce offers — anything that would yield a profit.
The past six months have seen a rebirth of the “content farm,” although one might call them “content farms for good.” Quora, Svbtle, Medium, and LinkedIn Influencers are four of the most prominent examples of a movement towards “higher quality” content on the web.
Why do I lovingly refer to them as “content farms?”
- “Article” based construction: most readers experience these not as sites but as posts, single page websites. Some of this is in their construction, lots of it is tied to the way they’re discovered via social media. The link at the end of a tweet.
- Silos of Crosspromotion: to various degrees, you come for one article and get effectively crosspromoted to see more from within the network. Often from many different authors.
- Building Tools/Services to Remove Publishing Friction: Whether lightweight CMS, LinkedIn’s Editors or Medium’s increasing staffing of what seems to be a creative services team, these services aren’t just giving you a web authoring tool, they’re removing the obstacles to creation – what should I write about.
- Curation: Too much content, next wave of services to produce higher signal output
- More writers: As generations grow up on the web, more people are ready to write and express themselves but not all want standalone blogs; not all who want standalone blogs want to deal with the management of the site and the promotion of their content.
- Accepting Meritocracy in the Byline: Similarly, these generations that have grown up on the web are also willing to read something even if it’s not produced by a writer attached to a media brand. Or eventually these “Content Farms for Good” become the reputable brand.