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Google, Content Farms and Diversification

Google BlogIf you write for Suite, HubPages or some of the other “content farms” you may have noticed a drop in traffic in the last day or two. The traffic drop is most likely due to recent changes in Google’s algorithm.

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

You’ve heard it before and it bears repeating again. If you have all of your eggs in the content farm basket, you’re probably hurting right now. Don’t get me wrong, all of us content farm writers have felt the pinch of lower page views and earnings, but if you write exclusively for content farms, your pinch is a bit more painful than those of us who spread things around a bit.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The good thing about the Google change is that it is supposed to penalize spammers, content scrapers and plagiarists. No one wants them to show up high in the Google page rankings.

The bad is that quality articles placed on sites like Suite 101, HubPages and other content farms are penalized because they were placed on such sites.

The ugly is that it will directly affect earnings. If content sites were your major source of income, it could get real ugly.Complaining

Complain, Moan, Gripe or Make Changes

I recently wrote an article on Suite about Justifying vs. Changing.  Here’s your chance to make a few critical choices.  Are you going to go from blog to blog and forum to forum complaining about the changes or are you going to take steps to make yourself whole again?  The choice is yours.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Ken February 25, 2011, 10:37 am

    I have noticed a few of my sites tank, while others are ranking much better. Articles on the rev share sites have been a mixed bag. Interestingly, Squidoo slipped from a PR8 to a PR7 right in line with Hub.

    You are so right, that we can sit here and complain or do what it takes to get things done. We are web content writers. This is what we do. I see good things coming from this, long term. Quality, quality and quality is one is going to set each of us apart from everybody else. Marketers will even soon realize that duplicate content placed on hundreds of directories will not be as effective as original quality content.

    On another note, this is also a good time to consider building your own website or blog based around your passions. Now is the time to lay the foundations of quality content.

    If you are determined to make residuals at content sites, now is the time to up your game as a quality web writer. This is a business. You are business owners. You are writers.

    • Felicia February 25, 2011, 12:15 pm

      Well said, Ken. Content sites are a good way to get exposure into the online writing arena, but there’s nothing like having your own.

  • Mandy Robinson February 25, 2011, 2:40 pm

    My views are low. It hurts 🙁

  • Grandma February 25, 2011, 4:43 pm

    So if we write for content sites, at least we get paid. If we have our own website or blog online, our work, if we publish it there for sale, can be ripped off by anyone for free. How do you secure your work and make money on your own? Or is it a matter of doing something else of a niche nature and placing affiliate ads up to make the cash. Then you are not writing much. ???

    • Felicia February 26, 2011, 6:53 am

      Grandma, although you get paid for your work on Suite, it still gets ripped off. There are plenty of unscrupulous folks whose sole purpose is to rip off articles from Suite and other sites.

      No different from running your own site. There was a person that scraped (copied) my entire NJFM blog. They have since made changes, but I often come across my original material on other sites. When I do, I file a DMCA and often times it’s resolved quickly. Other times, not so quickly. It’s one of the downfalls of online writing.

      As far as earning money, as you said, you can sell articles. I prefer adding affiliate links and ads to monetize my sites.

  • Judith P. February 25, 2011, 10:51 pm

    Just before Google revamped I started going through the HubPages tutorials and started tweaking my hubs. Because of this I saw an increase of 47% in my traffic. Now those are not big numbers because I only have 8 hubs but it is significant.

    What really surprised me was the amount of traffic I started receiving on my own blogs. I’m still not quite sure what happened but for now I’ll continue to plod along.

    I am confused about one thing though. I’m trying to build a base of residual earnings only. I thought HubPages was a good place to start. It has a pretty good reputation, but I’m obviously off the mark here. What kind of sites should I be looking at?

    • Felicia February 26, 2011, 6:57 am

      Judith, folks use all different ways to earn residual income. I’ve got many posts on NJFM about how I earn my residuals. I recently did a 4 part series on my four-year online journey. Those posts might give you an idea of what worked for me.

      Some people are very successful with HubPages. Lissie over at Passive Income Online has done very well with HubPages.

      I suggest you do some research to find out which one works best for you.

  • Sunforged February 26, 2011, 2:36 am

    Cool, Im originally from the Hudson Valley 🙂 Poughkeepsie, Fishkill and Wappingers. Nice to see a local.

    Ive been researching the google algo switch for the past 48 hours and its nice to see someone else who points out this is merely an opportunity to be spurred to create independent self owned content.

    Well said!

  • Anne Baley February 26, 2011, 10:00 am

    I think the people who should be really worried about this are those that put up repeatedly spun articles looking for Adsense revenue or links without giving any fresh content or real information. Those of us who actually write for a living, and take pride in giving useful information in exchange for our revenue, are going to be doing better in the long run. One of my pages has been sitting with a SERP of 40 for the past couple of weeks, and last night it shot up to 12. That’s the first one that I checked, but I think it may be an indication of what’s to come. Content really is king, now, much more than ever.

  • Master Dayton February 26, 2011, 8:59 pm

    At first, I was really down trodden because my hubs absolutely exploded the past two months, and if they don’t improve it looks like I’m back to where I was 12 months ago – but I took a long winter walk, cleared the head, and finally have all 15 URLs I’ve had sitting around up, hosted, themed, and with content. Who knows, maybe this was the firm kick in the pants I finally needed to make that really strong last push! Amazing how you can find the time when something makes you desperate.

  • Bill Swan February 26, 2011, 9:02 pm

    Another issue I’ve seen ignored in all the “doom and gloom” is the lack of the word ‘marketing’. This means going to Twitter and Facebook and making your brand (yourself)known to the rest of the Internet (not just friends and family). I started working on this a week ago in expectation of Google. You can no longer expect people to come find you via search engines. You have to put word out. Interesting analogy – this is similar to old time food stores. In the old days people just went looking for one nearby; these days smaller grocers need to create a niche for themselves such as custom meat or pre-made dinners and then market the crap out of that niche.

  • Tel Asiado February 26, 2011, 9:20 pm

    Felicia, you said it very well. Ouch! I’m hurting bad today. I saw this “content farm” formal label coming for the #1 website I’ve been committed to for almost 4 years next month. Mind’s quite murky but thank God, I’ve started diversifying sooner.

    • Felicia February 27, 2011, 6:32 am

      Tel, glad you stopped by NJFM.

      You and I both have a long history with Suite. This latest change doesn’t bode well with me. I’ve been contemplating whether or not to stick it out or devote 100% of my efforts elsewhere.

      I’ve not made a final decision, but the constant decline in numbers will soon make my decision for me. It is tough meeting Suite’s weekly writing requirement when the value of my work decreases daily.

      I’ll give it a little time to let the dust settle to see how things finally pan out before I decide one way or the other. Right now, things are looking pretty bleak.

  • Tel Asiado February 27, 2011, 9:51 am

    Hi Felicia, I share your sentiments. I’d like to hear what direction TPTB is taking then decide from there.

    Best to you.

  • kidgas February 27, 2011, 12:44 pm

    The comment about marketing is a good one. I have seen growth in my blog from doing this and now it might just be that I have to do the same for isolated articles as well. Furthermore, it may just mean that getting a personal website is now the best approach overall. My one concern is wondering whether individual smaller sites will be punished with just major sites reaching the SERPs or whether equal opportunity based upon content and value will carry the day. Just have to see what happens.

  • Richard March 10, 2011, 6:18 am

    At the end of the day, Google does try and make the most relevant content come first. That is it’s aim.

    Regardless of what marketing methods you use, I think it’s important to always have part of your work to just try and have the best content on your own site.

    That way, you would hope that any change in the algorithm would work to your site’s advantage.

    Ultimately, content farms, regardless of the quality of some of their content, have a business model of trying to capture as many search terms as possible for the hits and the advertising. They probably do not care that much whether people are actually finding what they want, or how well written the articles are, and that is why Google have penalised them.

  • Christina Crowe March 20, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    You make a VERY important point here.

    Every now and then, something may happen to one source of income that you can’t control. This new Google algorithm change just makes it even more imperative to diversify.

    As freelancers, there’s many ways you can do this. For instance, most writers own their own blogs, so why not create your own infoproducts (like ebooks, online courses, consulting services) and sell them? You can still earn a residual income without depending so much on search engines.

    I’m not suggesting just not writing content for other sites altogether. Quite the contrary – and I expect to be still writing for other companies many years down the road myself. I just think it’s smarter to stay prepared before something bad happens, so that you can minimize the impact of the hit when it comes. And you do this by having a varied portfolio of income sources.

    Great read!


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