A Content Farm Isn't the Same Thing as a Content Factory

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Don’t confuse content farms with content factories!

content farmLast summer, The New York Times published a somewhat scathing editorial about the rise of content farms entitled “Google’s War on Nonsense.” The article claims that content farms “cheapen all online information.” Others like it assert that they damage the Internet by manipulating search engines with the goal of getting more eyes on ads. Anyone familiar with content farms knows that these assessments are spot on.

Having devoted a fair number of blog posts to explaining why every company needs a content factory, one point needs to be made very clear: A content farm and a content factory are not the same thing.

Let me explain why.

The 411 on Content Farms

A content farm (also known as a content mill) is a company that employees large numbers of freelancers to create huge amounts of content on the cheap. The result is low-quality, often nonsensical, content that’s rarely useful or informative. Of course, the point of that content isn’t to educate or even to demonstrate good writing. It’s to satisfy search engine algorithms, ensuring that people find it and, more importantly, the ads that come with it.

One of the best examples of a content farm is Demand Media, which owns eHow.com, Livestrong.com, Cracked.com, and AnswerBag.com, among other sites. Collectively, these sites produce thousands of articles and YouTube videos every day. Much of that content, frankly, is junk. But again, that’s besides the point in the eyes of many content farms, so long as people are finding the content.

To learn more about how a content farm works, check out this great infographic from onlinemba.com:

content farm

As I noted earlier, content farms aren’t exactly new, so the good news is that the folks at Google have caught on. In response,  they have changed the search enginge’s algorithm to help ensure that it turns up high-quality sites, effectively rendering content farms irrelevant. Still, it’s an ongoing battle. I don’t think that we can discount content farms just yet.

A Reminder About the Role of Content Factories

Content factories have little in common with content farms. To understand what a content factory is all about, however, you’ve got to understand what content marketing is. Like traditional marketing, the ultimate goal of content marketing is to promote and grow a business. In contrast to traditional marketing, however, it does so by providing highly relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage your prospects and customers to take action. Importantly, that’s done in a non-sales context. As a result, rather than focus your content on your own products and services, you focus on educating your audience. By becoming a valuable resource for your over time, you are ultimately encouraging your audience to become loyal customers.

A content factory is simply the in-house publishing company (and the necessary people, tools, and processes) that creates the content your company needs to educate customers and prospects and help them down the path to purchase. To find out more about content factories, check out these posts:

So remember, a content farm and a content factory are not the same thing. If you’ve had experiences with either, good or bad, please share your experiences in the comments section below.

To continue this series on content factories, check out the next post, “Content Conumdrum: What Should Your New Content Factory Produce?” To go back to the beginning of the series, click here.