One of the hottest topics in search quality discussions so far in 2011 has been “Content Farms,” and I think it’s none too soon. I despise them. They give almost no value to consumers at all, and whatever value they do give is overshadowed by obnoxious advertising. Defining them can be a little difficult sometimes, so for the record, here’s my simple definition.
Content Farm: A website that gives a visitor the smallest amount of useful content possible, while bombarding that visitor with as much spam or advertising as possible.
Oftentimes, spammy websites will house somewhere around 3% helpful information and up to 97% junk, pop ups, banner ads, text ads, floating images, flash and other garbage that none of the users are actually interested in. Usually, these sites will squeeze in just barely enough good stuff to draw a visitor in, and try to distract them from the main reason they were there in the first place with interruptive advertising that generates revenue for the website, at the expense of the visitors experience.
Examples: Wikipedia is not. Song lyrics websites are. Websites that have lyrics for pop music are the most egregious offenders, and are all illegally profiting from copyright violations anyway.
Again, I’ll say that I despise them. I hope by the end of the year, search engines will have found a way to circumvent them and we’ll just laugh next year as we ask “does anyone remember content farms?“