A content farm is a business model on the Internet in which the provider of a platform has freelancers produce content from text, videos, photos and graphics that are intended to attract as many page views as possible through search engine optimization. Revenue is then generated by online advertising. In terms of content, most posts in content farms consist of long-term relevant content that, unlike news, can attract readers in the longer term without interventions such as costly updates. The focus is often on operating instructions.
The Business Models
There are two basic business models: either the provider analyzes frequently asked queries on search engines and commissions authors to write tailor-made texts or the authors are free in the selection of their topics and are trained in the search engine-friendly preparation of their content.
In the first case, the provider pays the authors per article, in the second, the platform operator can leave the choice of topic to the authors, because he does not pay a lump sum, but the authors only receive a revenue share of generated advertising revenue when retrieving their texts.
Pay scales for content are often low compared to the salaries received by experienced writers. Few even compensate the writers at a rate of below $5 per article. The content writers are often women seeking additional income.
In the first step, topics are determined on which the creation of content would be lucrative. It may be a formula that consists of three parts.
Frequent searches in search engines that are special enough to define a topic. These usually search queries from several words. Google offers analysis tools and metrics for this, the simplest is Google Suggest.
Potential advertising revenue with a corresponding article. For this purpose, the number of search queries and click-through rates for comparable topics and auction results for topic-relevant Google AdWords is analyzed.
A competitor observation provides clues as to whether corresponding content is already available elsewhere and therefore an own offer on search results pages would be difficult to bring to the top.
Most of the work required for this first step is carried out automatically. At the end of the first step, there is a headline full of relevant keywords, which after a short revision by an editor migrates into a database. News and only short-term current topics are separated, as the content should be as durable as possible. The statistical determination of relevant topics distinguishes content farms from information websites, which use as topics the questions asked by individuals, even if the business models begin to overlap.
In the second step, freelancers can choose a topic from the database and write an article or produce a video. This content is uploaded and briefly reviewed:
- Automated control against text plagiarism
- Editorial control. The nature and scope of this control are debatable and is cited by critics as the reason for the poor quality of content farm content.
- The articles or videos are then distributed across the sites fed by the Content Farm. These are not always the sites that belong directly to the content farm, but in some cases through affiliate marketing also other websites that integrate third-party content into their site together with advertising.
In the third step, the article or video is online for as long as possible and will achieve the highest possible ranks in the search results through search engine optimization (SEO) of the content farm operator and thus generate the predicted advertising revenues. The producers of the contributions, i.e. authors and videographers, are paid directly for their contributions.