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The Web is inundated with talk about how freelance writers should stay away from content mills. The term is usually used pejoratively since it typically refers to a platform that serves up an endless stream of written content on the cheap. Would-be writers often flock to them armed with the hope of consistent and easy work that requires little skill or experience.
But what does this mean for businesses?
Content is the core element of any Inbound Marketing program
#1. Reduced Search Engine Exposure
It’s common knowledge in the business world that most traffic comes from the search engines. Increasing your visibility in Google should be one of your first marketing priorities but, if you don’t go about in the right way, you’ll end up achieving the exact opposite.
For the most part, content mills and bidding-based outsourcing platforms present a race to the bottom in which companies end up being seduced by incredibly low rates for enormous amounts of content. Unfortunately, however, quantity is not the defining factor when it comes to increasing search visibility.
In February 2011, Google announced a crackdown on content mills in response to their growing reputation for thin, surface-level content. The algorithm change, dubbed Google Panda, initially effected 11.8% of English-language search queries. The sites worst hit were article directories, guest-blogging networks, and other so-called content farms.
#2. Poor User Experience
Even six years later, many businesses and would-be digital entrepreneurs are still turning to content mills for their inbound marketing needs, with SEO typically being the only thing on their minds. Often, the user experience isn’t even a consideration, which illustrates the fact that they simply don’t understand how Google works.
In reality, a great user experience translates into greater search engine exposure, so that’s where your priorities should lie. Content mills typically don’t care about your business, and their writers often don’t even have any interaction with your website. They care only about getting a job done quickly, not least because the pay tends to be minimal.
No matter the format, the primary goal of any piece of Web content should be to offer genuine value. Your readers should leave having learned something, and that’s not likely to happen if they’ve just stumbled across a typical SEO article that was written solely for the search engines without any original research or industry expertise involved.
#3. Lack of Branding
Perhaps the biggest problem of all with content mills is that they tend to be completely impersonal. They rarely lead to long-term relationships between businesses and content writers. This leads to generic, surface-level content that doesn’t even have a clearly defined audience.
Your brand is your company’s personality. It’s defined by its unique value proposition, its expectations, its persona and its perceptions. More than anything else, however, a brand is how your target audience sees your company. Only by forging a functional, working relationship directly with your content writers can you reap the benefits of a solid content marketing strategy. You’re not likely to have that experience with a content mill.
Content mills tend to have a one-size-fits-all approach that completely fails to consider the individual characteristics of your brand. Oftentimes, they know nothing about your company or your target audience, instead writing generic content with an extremely broad focus that immediately gets lost among the competition.
Businesses that turn to content mills typically do so for two reasons – speed and cost. Unfortunately, this often comes with a great deal of uncertainty. What often happens is that you won’t even know with whom you’re working.
Many so-called freelancers and questionable digital marketing agencies outsource work that has already been outsourced to them. Sometimes, you can end up with as many as three intermediaries between you and the person who is writing your content.
In the case of many content mills, the writer usually ends up earning next to nothing, while the person or agency your business is paying piggybacks off their work. More importantly from the client’s perspective, however, is that they have little or no control over the result. Their instructions often end up changing hands so many times through relayed communication that there’s no semblance of a relationship between the end client and the actual freelancer.
Avoid content mills in order to create the best content for your business
So What Should You Be Doing?
Quality content doesn’t come cheap. Fortunately, however, quality trumps quantity whenever it comes to building your brand and increasing its visibility. It’s far better to have a small amount of great content than publishing ream upon ream of low-quality search engine fodder.
By taking the time to find professional content marketers who can truly capture the spirit of your brand, you’ll be in a much better position to achieve long-term success. That means finding writers who can craft completely original content that’s well-researched, free of errors and, most importantly, targeted towards a specific audience.
Let me take a moment to speak about how Bristol Strategy approaches content creation for our clients because it differs in two important ways.
First, we search for freelance writers who have considerable experience in our client's industry(s) and these freelancers have significant experience as journalists.
The second is that all of the content is generated from a very well crafted content strategy and before we assign writing tasks we employ an outlining process with our clients to ensure the content the writer creates is directionally correct and addresses the critical points our clients require. The result is content that addresses our client's needs and is very well written.
If your new to Inbound Marketing, please consider downloading the eBook titled "Inbound Marketing Guide for Newbies" and if you are an experienced marketer, you may find the eBook titled "Stand Out From The Crowd: 24 Inbound Marketing Tips To Set Your Company Apart." Whichever you choose, please enjoy learning about Inbound Marketing and please let us know if we can help you market your business.
Bristol Strategy is a full funnel inbound marketing agency and inbound sales agency offering the full complement of Inbound Marketing services that enable our clients to surpass their business objectives by transforming the way they engage with their buyer on-line. Reach out to us to learn more about how our experience and capabilities can help your business grow.
Tags: Content Marketing