You may already feel inundated by offers from content writing firms. “Content is king,” they’ll remind you — and their content is some of the cheapest around. The rates for these writers can be as low as $0.006 (yes, less than a penny) per word, which tempts many organizations into investing. So, why shouldn’t you?
In brief, while these “content mills” can provide you with content, what they write will look like what it is: sub-penny per word rubbish. But maybe you’re one of the many groups trying to appease, not visitors, but search engines. Well, we have to break something to you: the search engines care about quality too.
The very concept of “link building” comes from the idea that users will link to higher quality content, and more “user links” remains one of your best ways to rank. Further, while it’s true that the search engines’ automated ranking systems can be manipulated, that manipulation is temporary. Keyword stuffers of the AltaVista era weren’t just “bumped down a notch” when search engines caught on — they were bumped off the search engines. Permanently.
The search engines of the 2010s are demonstrating much greater care when it comes to content quality. Recently, Matt Cutts, the Principal Engineer of Google’s Search Quality team, made a direct statement that Google’s innovation is focused on finding ways to defeat content mills. This includes several new features that have already been implemented.
Haven’t heard of Google’s “document-level content classifier” yet? You will. It’s a new piece of the Google algorithm that evaluates the content of a page (such as an article) or a page section (such as a blog comment) to make sure it’s not just “spammy” verbiage with a link inside. Results that show to be part of spammed content will be shoved forcefully from the search engine results.
This move is part of the core search engine effort to provide users with quality content. If you truly want to rank, there’s one key — and in the end, only one — to success: publishing high-quality content for the denizens of the web.