Aaron’s discussed content mills in his interview with Tedster yesterday.
What is a content mill?
A content mill is a site that publishes cheap content. The content is either user-contributed, paid, or a mix of the two. The term content mill is obviously pejorative, the implication being that the content is only published to pump content into search engines, and is typically of low value in terms of quality.
We’re very skeptical about the scale argument, as you might expect. There’s a lot of aspects to this subject that are not very well understood.
So in all of this stuff, the scale arguments are pretty bogus in our view because it’s not the quantity or quality of the ingredients that make a difference, it’s the recipes. We think we’re where we are today because we’ve got better recipes and we have better recipes because we spent 10 years working on search improving the performance of the algorithm.
Relevancy is a good thing. It makes search and the world more efficient. Many attempts at relevancy, like search is getting more social, may just create more noise. But computers are getting better at understanding language is a good thing “our measurements show that synonyms affect 70 percent of user searches across the more than 100 languages Google supports.”
But it seems each increase in relevancy justifies additional increases in irrelevancy to increase monetization.
Each individual piece sounds useful and helpful, but the end effect (and goal) is hijacking and misdirecting traffic to display more ads.
Mark Cuban recently talked about how search engines and content aggregators are vampires.
There is no reason to be indexed in Google. … You haven’t gotten anything back
But he failed to disclose how his Mahalo investment loots content.
If Google is a vampire (while sending away billions of Dollars of traffic for free) then what does that make Mahalo (which borrows your titles and abstracts as content to pull search traffic into their ad cluttered pages pages, while placing your content below the fold (while using nofollow on attribution links))?
I was talking to a friend yesterday who was at a conference where Demand Media’s CEO spoke, and he stated that nobody asked the big question: “what if google decides they don’t like you anymore?”
Then I got thinking about how Google torched Squidoo after Jason Calacanis went on his public campaign to rebrand it as spam. But today under the same level of scrutiny, how is Mahalo (which scrapes millions of 3rd party content listings *without any editorial filter*) not spam? Squidoo at least donates $10,000 a month to charity. Mahalo just “borrows” your content without permission and keeps all the cash.
Let’s use a different industry to illustrate what is happening.
Let’s say a band named The Beatles records a new album. The local radio station gets a copy of their album and plays their song. The listeners love it so they play it more often, but they don’t mention who the band is and on their website, they put up a link to download the song… but without any credits. Their audience grows. They get advertisers to advertise to their audience. They say, “hey, playing good songs gets us more listeners and more listeners gets us more advertisers, which gets us more $$. Let’s do this more often.” So they go do this 500,000 times, and each time never mentioning who the artist is. They grow and prosper while the artists starve.
[Update: And it was so bad that Demand Media removed it from YouTube after I highlighted it, proving my point]
So remarkably bad, that I had to share it!
I don’t know who Demand(ed) that Media, but could I please get my minute and six seconds back?
With 50,000+ views, that 1 video has wasted over a month of human life, so far. How many man-years are wasted watching such garbage? And yet they are just getting started! Demand Media’s goal is to create a million pieces of “content” each month.
[update: Matt Cutts contacted me and mentioned that this was due to the Vevo launch which occurred after that page was cached. Over time that means such pages like the one mentioned below should be purged from the Google search index.]
Google claims they try to be pretty fair with publishers and publishing business models. They are fine with indexing preview versions of a page and just showing a user that, you can make the full article free, you can make the first x clicks free.
OR you can put it all behind a paywall and not get any search exposure.
The Media Strawman Argument: SEO is Bogus
Watching the big co. media vs Google interaction has been entertaining, largely because they claim search is an either/or game.
Matt Kelly, from the Daily Mirror, exclaimed how SEO was a dead end and how they were only able to grow by not worrying about SEO:
In the past I have vented email frustrations in many ways (and truth be told I am still way behind on email to this day) but I thought it would be worth sharing why forums are a way better business model than personalized emails for helping people.
I am not sure if all my thoughts and analysis are 100% spot on, but this is why I like private forums so much.