Content Farms or the Smartest SEOs in the World? (Live Blog)

content farms for seo at SMX west
With the Google algorithm update called either Farmer or Panda, Google aimed at low quality content and made an effort to reduce how high this content ranks in its search results. While some thought this was mainly targeting the “content farms” that produce huge volumes of low quality content for SEO purposes and monetizing via advertising, Google claimed this was aimed at low quality content in general on any site. This SMX discussion was very interesting as it looked at how the algorithm changed, the winners and losers and how content farms compare to traditional media (and which will succeed in the future). Read on!

Speakers:
Luke Beatty, Vice President & General Manager, Yahoo! Contributor Network, Yahoo!
Matthew Brown, Founder, AudienceWise
Byrne Hobart, Marketing Consultant, Blue Fountain Media
Gil Reich, VP of Product Management, Answers.com
Tim Ruder, Chief Revenue Officer, PerfectMarket

  #SMX West – Content Farms Or the Smartest SEOs in the World (03/08/2011) 
3:56
Yahoo Contributor network – 400,000 voices
Goes mostly to Yahoo sites
Content without a home goes to Associatedcontent.com
google referrals for associatedcontent.com – 1/3 is up, 2/3 is down
Tuesday March 8, 2011 3:56 
3:56
Content farm definition not always clear
But you know what it is when you see it
People have talked about the google results getting worse
But in some cases, content farm info can be helpful

Yahoo – Luke Beatty

Tuesday March 8, 2011 3:56 
3:57
93% of site’s assets are still indexed in Google
Tuesday March 8, 2011 3:57 
3:57
Goal is still to allow yahoo contributors to be published on the Web
Tuesday March 8, 2011 3:57 
3:58
Yahoo traffic and Yahoo Answers are generally up after algorithm change
But this puts more pressure to create higher quality content
Tuesday March 8, 2011 3:58 
3:59
Jury’s still out on whether google did a good job of deciding high vs. low quality content
Tuesday March 8, 2011 3:59 
4:00
2005 – it was about creating context, building inventory in long tail web – democratic, open
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:00 
4:00
Could go through associated content – used contextual ad servers like adsense
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:00 
4:01
2008 – built out hypertargeted display – for example a company like Ace hardware could want 100’s of pages on drills. Crowdsource content to create inventory
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:01 
4:02
Today – 70% of content consumed daily is crowd-sourced, 30% of content is someone they know
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:02 
4:03
Created assignments for sites like Shine
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:03 
4:03
Get consumers involved in the conversations – e.g. moms like me program to get them involved and create content
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:03 
4:04
He doesn’t chafe at content farm title – creating content at massive scale is okay – as long as he can verify who you are, that you didn’t steal it and that a machine didn’t create it. Then editors can publish it
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:04 
4:05
Next is Tim Ruder – PerfectMarket
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:05 
4:06
Traditional media has some issues with economics. We can look at content farms and draw some conclusions for traditional media
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:06 
4:09
Newspapers – 20 years ago didn’t spell Qadaffi’s name the same. Even now, it’s still the same. Can’t newspapers use technology to align on this? There are still over 100 different versions of spelling being used in major media outlets
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:09 
4:10
4 attributes of content farms:
– systematic tools, processes, orgs to write large quant of data
– tools to find out what people want
– tools to help them find out commerical demand for topics
– in their accounting, amortize cost of content over time
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:10 
4:10
Traditional news media – large scale production, editorial production. newspapers have been doing this reasonably well – 100’s of stories each day
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:10 
4:12
Consumer demand – things diverge a little bit. Traditional publishers take reader interest into account but also add in what smart people think people should know about – this leads to investigative journalism, service journalism (reviews, etc.). Consumer input not baked into DNA of news orgs
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:12 
4:13
Organizational disconnect between creative production and the display, optimization, distribution of news
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:13 
4:14
Third attribute of commercial demand – newspapers monetize at an aggregate level – content farms think about it at the atomic level
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:14 
4:15
Economics of content farms – amortize over a 5 year period – they think about durability of content – newsrooms don’t think about this. They operate on adrenalin, “daily miracle” that newspaper gets out each day. Don’t consider durability
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:15 
4:16
Knock against content farms – rightful – quality can be very low and thin. But market pressure is forcing a change on that
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:16 
4:17
Recent Google Panda/Farmer update puts the quality requirement out there. Mainstream press was not dramatically affected. Content farms will not sit still – they’ll put more quality control in place.
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:17 
4:18
Publishers – online content is being subsidized by offline content now. But that will change – traditional publishers need to learn some of the lessons from content farms while keeping some of their values that they’ve learned over the generations
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:18 
4:19
Understand customer interest, capture revenues at more granular way, understand durability, take full advantage of the moment in time today in order to put these things in place before their competitors get better and better and we lose what we have from mainstream publishers
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:19 
4:20
Next: Byrne Hobart, Blue Fountain Media
Why did someone get $15 for writing “How to Pour Water into a Glass Cup”?
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:20 
4:21
Old way – supply media
– create content and then find way to monetize it
– great system if you like writing good stuff
– only tenable when you can’t find out what people want
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:21 
4:22
New way – “demand media”
– giving people what they want – it’s been happening for years, we’re just targeting better – when people think they type it into google
– monetize with highly targete contextual ads
– RPM of $13.45 for 1000 page views for 2010 – up 26%
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:22 
4:23
Best case scenario
– article almost solves problem but not quite
– but lots of ads around it that do solve it
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:23 
4:24
“Demand” Media
– ridiculous economies of scale
– best monetization strategy for old demains
– also great for celebrity sites – rachel ray, lance armstrong, tryra banks, etc.
– finance missing – don’t be surprised if demand media rolls out a site on finance (susie orman, etc.)
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:24 
4:25
winners
– anyone with more money than time
– online absentee landlords
– lots of nontraditional employees (e.g. stay at home mom)
– searchers looking for ultra long tail terms
– shareholders
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:25 
4:26
If their market value is close to zero, it’s easy to pay them a small amount for article and churn it out
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:26 
4:28
Losers
– people with more time than money
– traditional media – budgets going to other sites
– active bloggers – harder to write long tail content
– new to SEO industry
– searchers looking for head terms – google not great at differentiating between great content and well-optimized sites
– SEOs – old media
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:28 
4:29
It’s like the industrial revolution
– not content farms, content factories
– separate content creators from site ownership
– more efficiency – red queen scenario – need to keep going to stay the same place
– huge labor arbitrage
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:29 
4:29
SEOs
– complain to media, google, twitter followers, etc
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:29 
4:31
Better responses
– shoot for quality
– sneak by with social media
– dust off your email newsletter
– buy traffic from these sites – target at frustrated person who’s reading bad article
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:31 
4:31
In the end, google will find out how to rank high quality content better
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:31 
4:32
Next – Mathew Brown – AudienceWise
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:32 
4:33
Google calls this Panda update
Not specifically targeting content farm
– targeting low quality content
– scraper sites
– shopping sites
– thin or low quality content
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:33 
4:34
Domain authority – how we got here
– ability to rank thousands of pages by domain trust/time
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:34 
4:34
e.g. New York times – wrote a lot of content – sometimes it would have no content but just a page but still rank due to domain authority
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:34 
4:35
Farmer: A sitewide filter on domain authority?
Farmer factor applied to site’s normal ranking ability
sites were hit across the board, not just their bad content
– if you had a “farmer smell”, you got hit site-wide
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:35 
4:36
Possible Farmer/Panda signals
– quality vs. quantity ratio
– big sites relying on domain authority
– small sites with few quality pages
– sites with an overload of links
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:36 
4:37
Also, Tom Critchlow of Distilled wrote about this – ads very high or front and center
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:37 
4:38
Survivors
– ehow
– hungtington post

Hubpages
– not as much juice so got hit more

Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:38 
4:38
Elusive brand smell
– google news inclusion
– yahoo news inclusion
– look/smell like brand
– Digg, delicious
– tweets, likes
– links – do you have deeper links?
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:38 
4:39
How do you get out or avoid getting into this?
– don’t whine to google
– cowboy or cowgirl up
– get rid of no content pages
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:39 
4:40
Why didn’t ehow get hit?
– content above the fold
– not much in terms of ads
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:40 
4:41
Clean your site up – or no index, now follow some pages
Build out brand signals – shares, tweets, likes, popularity to deep content
Launch new domains or channels – travel, food, etc. – some niches have opened up
Tighten editorial focus
Scale the promotion for good content
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:41 
4:42
Vacuum in serps – some sites moving up are not that great – e.g. how to tie a lure. ehow moved down, etc.
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:42 
4:43
Top 5 results – now – may not have great SEO
– good opportunity
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:43 
4:48
Q&A
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:48 
4:49
How to rank?
Images and video
Social signals – tweets and shares
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:49 
4:52
Luke Beatty – Google played role of offense and defense
– they’ve created a big game – people play it all day long
– they’ll continue to change the algorithms
– their role is to do what’s best for your business – may not be what’s best for competition or a publisher
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:52 
4:53
Mathew Brown – google brand depends on trust. if brand negativity takes a hit, they may decrease revenues if it helps with brand perception
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:53 
4:54
Google – quality raters – average people
– the questions quality raters seem to answer have a lot to do with website design
– so, does appearance, etc. play a big role with quality raters?
– they may be matching up user signals with data on bounces, etc.
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:54 
4:57
yahoo strategy – cover content that’s not covered – e.g. high school sports
– same with finance – e.g. personal finance
– crowd source new content in existing owned properties
– launching internationally
Tuesday March 8, 2011 4:57 
5:01
Session is over
Tuesday March 8, 2011 5:01 
5:01

 

 

 
 

Here’s the transcript without Scrolling

3:56
Content farm definition not always clear
But you know what it is when you see it
People have talked about the google results getting worse
But in some cases, content farm info can be helpful
Yahoo – Luke Beatty
3:56
Yahoo Contributor network – 400,000 voices
Goes mostly to Yahoo sites
Content without a home goes to Associatedcontent.com
google referrals for associatedcontent.com – 1/3 is up, 2/3 is down
3:57
93% of site’s assets are still indexed in Google
3:57
Goal is still to allow yahoo contributors to be published on the Web
3:58
Yahoo traffic and Yahoo Answers are generally up after algorithm change
But this puts more pressure to create higher quality content
3:59
Jury’s still out on whether google did a good job of deciding high vs. low quality content
4:00
2005 – it was about creating context, building inventory in long tail web – democratic, open
4:00
Could go through associated content – used contextual ad servers like adsense
4:01
2008 – built out hypertargeted display – for example a company like Ace hardware could want 100′s of pages on drills. Crowdsource content to create inventory
4:02
Today – 70% of content consumed daily is crowd-sourced, 30% of content is someone they know
4:03
Created assignments for sites like Shine
4:03
Get consumers involved in the conversations – e.g. moms like me program to get them involved and create content
4:04
He doesn’t chafe at content farm title – creating content at massive scale is okay – as long as he can verify who you are, that you didn’t steal it and that a machine didn’t create it. Then editors can publish it
4:05
Next is Tim Ruder – PerfectMarket
4:06
Traditional media has some issues with economics. We can look at content farms and draw some conclusions for traditional media
4:09
Newspapers – 20 years ago didn’t spell Qadaffi’s name the same. Even now, it’s still the same. Can’t newspapers use technology to align on this? There are still over 100 different versions of spelling being used in major media outlets
4:10
4 attributes of content farms:
– systematic tools, processes, orgs to write large quant of data
– tools to find out what people want
– tools to help them find out commerical demand for topics
– in their accounting, amortize cost of content over time
4:10
Traditional news media – large scale production, editorial production. newspapers have been doing this reasonably well – 100′s of stories each day
4:12
Consumer demand – things diverge a little bit. Traditional publishers take reader interest into account but also add in what smart people think people should know about – this leads to investigative journalism, service journalism (reviews, etc.). Consumer input not baked into DNA of news orgs
4:13
Organizational disconnect between creative production and the display, optimization, distribution of news
4:14
Third attribute of commercial demand – newspapers monetize at an aggregate level – content farms think about it at the atomic level
4:15
Economics of content farms – amortize over a 5 year period – they think about durability of content – newsrooms don’t think about this. They operate on adrenalin, “daily miracle” that newspaper gets out each day. Don’t consider durability
4:16
Knock against content farms – rightful – quality can be very low and thin. But market pressure is forcing a change on that
4:17
Recent Google Panda/Farmer update puts the quality requirement out there. Mainstream press was not dramatically affected. Content farms will not sit still – they’ll put more quality control in place.
4:18
Publishers – online content is being subsidized by offline content now. But that will change – traditional publishers need to learn some of the lessons from content farms while keeping some of their values that they’ve learned over the generations
4:19
Understand customer interest, capture revenues at more granular way, understand durability, take full advantage of the moment in time today in order to put these things in place before their competitors get better and better and we lose what we have from mainstream publishers
4:20
Next: Byrne Hobart, Blue Fountain Media
Why did someone get $15 for writing “How to Pour Water into a Glass Cup”?
4:21
Old way – supply media
– create content and then find way to monetize it
– great system if you like writing good stuff
– only tenable when you can’t find out what people want
4:22
New way – “demand media”
– giving people what they want – it’s been happening for years, we’re just targeting better – when people think they type it into google
– monetize with highly targete contextual ads
– RPM of $13.45 for 1000 page views for 2010 – up 26%
4:23
Best case scenario
– article almost solves problem but not quite
– but lots of ads around it that do solve it
4:24
“Demand” Media
– ridiculous economies of scale
– best monetization strategy for old demains
– also great for celebrity sites – rachel ray, lance armstrong, tryra banks, etc.
– finance missing – don’t be surprised if demand media rolls out a site on finance (susie orman, etc.)
4:25
winners
– anyone with more money than time
– online absentee landlords
– lots of nontraditional employees (e.g. stay at home mom)
– searchers looking for ultra long tail terms
– shareholders
4:26
If their market value is close to zero, it’s easy to pay them a small amount for article and churn it out
4:28
Losers
– people with more time than money
– traditional media – budgets going to other sites
– active bloggers – harder to write long tail content
– new to SEO industry
– searchers looking for head terms – google not great at differentiating between great content and well-optimized sites
– SEOs – old media
4:29
It’s like the industrial revolution
– not content farms, content factories
– separate content creators from site ownership
– more efficiency – red queen scenario – need to keep going to stay the same place
– huge labor arbitrage
4:29
SEOs
– complain to media, google, twitter followers, etc
4:31
Better responses
– shoot for quality
– sneak by with social media
– dust off your email newsletter
– buy traffic from these sites – target at frustrated person who’s reading bad article
4:31
In the end, google will find out how to rank high quality content better
4:32
Next – Mathew Brown – AudienceWise
4:33
Google calls this Panda update
Not specifically targeting content farm
– targeting low quality content
– scraper sites
– shopping sites
– thin or low quality content
4:34
Domain authority – how we got here
– ability to rank thousands of pages by domain trust/time
4:34
e.g. New York times – wrote a lot of content – sometimes it would have no content but just a page but still rank due to domain authority
4:35
Farmer: A sitewide filter on domain authority?
Farmer factor applied to site’s normal ranking ability
sites were hit across the board, not just their bad content
– if you had a “farmer smell”, you got hit site-wide
4:36
Possible Farmer/Panda signals
– quality vs. quantity ratio
– big sites relying on domain authority
– small sites with few quality pages
– sites with an overload of links
4:37
Also, Tom Critchlow of Distilled wrote about this – ads very high or front and center
4:38
Survivors
– ehow
– hungtington post

 

Hubpages
– not as much juice so got hit more
4:38
Elusive brand smell
– google news inclusion
– yahoo news inclusion
– look/smell like brand
– Digg, delicious
– tweets, likes
– links – do you have deeper links?
4:39
How do you get out or avoid getting into this?
– don’t whine to google
– cowboy or cowgirl up
– get rid of no content pages
4:40
Why didn’t ehow get hit?
– content above the fold
– not much in terms of ads
4:41
Clean your site up – or no index, now follow some pages
Build out brand signals – shares, tweets, likes, popularity to deep content
Launch new domains or channels – travel, food, etc. – some niches have opened up
Tighten editorial focus
Scale the promotion for good content
4:42
Vacuum in serps – some sites moving up are not that great – e.g. how to tie a lure. ehow moved down, etc.
4:43
Top 5 results – now – may not have great SEO
– good opportunity
4:48
Q&A
4:49
How to rank?
Images and video
Social signals – tweets and shares
4:52
Luke Beatty – Google played role of offense and defense
– they’ve created a big game – people play it all day long
– they’ll continue to change the algorithms
– their role is to do what’s best for your business – may not be what’s best for competition or a publisher
4:53
Mathew Brown – google brand depends on trust. if brand negativity takes a hit, they may decrease revenues if it helps with brand perception
4:54
Google – quality raters – average people
– the questions quality raters seem to answer have a lot to do with website design
– so, does appearance, etc. play a big role with quality raters?
– they may be matching up user signals with data on bounces, etc.
4:57
yahoo strategy – cover content that’s not covered – e.g. high school sports
– same with finance – e.g. personal finance
– crowd source new content in existing owned properties
– launching internationally
5:01
Session is over
Go to:
http://www.directionseo.com/blog/
(to get access to other sessions)