While it’s certain that none of the publishing programs run by our clients or many other companies would in any way be considered “content farms,” the changes being made by Google to account for sites deemed to have “shallow or low quality content” they certainly need to be aware of those changes.
Really, though, it simply provides another opportunity for companies (and those who are helping them manage a publishing program) to ask themselves a simply question: How are we adding unique and original thinking to the conversations we’re taking part in?
Publishing programs shouldn’t just be about marketing a company’s wares, whatever they are. The best programs mix items from these and other categories:
- Wholly original, meaning they come pulled straight from the heads of those who are contributing to it or are based on other company-produced content such as white papers
- Reactionary, meaning they are based on something someone else wrote and contains that company’s opinion or perspective on an issue being discussed elsewhere
- Straight curation, meaning taking interesting stories that are worth reading and sharing them on Twitter, Delicious or elsewhere with little or no additional commentary.
Veer too far in any one of these directions and the program starts to lose value in the eyes of the audience. Again, we’re still pretty far from “content farm” territory, but that doesn’t mean that companies running publishing programs don’t need to be consistently looking at what value their material is providing the audience. If that value dips it may not be search engine rules that the program runs afoul of, it might just fall victim to audience disinterest.