We regularly attend SEO conferences such as SMX and SES, and in the last year we've started giving talks and presentations to help business owners grow their businesses online. This year, we're combining the two by giving a talk on "content farms" and their effects on the search engine experience.
SMX West, which takes place in early March, is one of two annual SEO conferences put on by the publishers of Search Engine Land (where I am a contributor). SMX brings together top online marketing agencies worldwide, as well as major vendors, search engine representatives, in-house marketing managers, and more. We've attended these conferences in order to hone our skills and keep up with new changes in the industry, but until now we've been in the audience—and the Q&A sessions—but we haven't spoken before.
The panel will cover so-called "Content Farms": companies that pay a huge number of freelancers small rates in order to write quick articles about a variety of subjects. These companies tend to make money from putting ads on their articles, or selling them to large news outlets. It's a new model, and a controversial one: at their worst, content farms pollute search engine rankings with irrelevant, poorly-written results, and swamp legitimate content. However, they've also created content where there wasn't anything relevant before, and search engines tend to judge the quality of content by how users behave when they interact with it, not whether or not it could be republished in Harpers. It's a complex situation, and we're ready to dive in and spark some controversy.