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content farm (content mill)

A content farm, also called a content mill, is a Web site whose content is written for search engine bots instead of human readers. Topics on a content farm are chosen specifically for their ability to rank highly in search engine results.

A content farm generates revenue by placing ads on the page or selling contextual hyperlinks within the content. Basically, the more Internet traffic a page gets, the more revenue the page can generate.

To generate enough revenue to support the site and still be profitable, a farm must create massive amounts of content and take advantage of a frequency distribution pattern called the long tail. Perhaps this frequency pattern can be best illustrated by Amazon.com, where the larger percentage of their profits comes from relatively obscure, niche books (low frequency events) than from purchases of best sellers (high frequency events). If a content farm determines there is potential to earn revenue from posting content about knitting, for example, the farm operators will identify all the keywords that make up the topic’s long tail and flood the Internet with articles about specific types of knitting needles, instructions for different types of stitches, knitting patterns, etc.

In order to generate the volume of content that’s necessary to create the long tail, many content farms re-post content from other Web sites or crowdsource articles to freelance writers for a low fee. Because content farm articles are written specifically for search engine optimization (SEO) and not their usefulness to readers, the quality of the articles on a content farm site can be erratic.

See also: Mechanical Turk, sblog, spamdexing, ghost site, online advertising glossary

Read more about content farms:

Content farms:the who, what and why

Writers Explain What It's Like Toiling on the Content Farm
This was last updated in November 2011

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