While Demand Media and their recently redesigned eHow property were – for the most part – unaffected by the broomsweep of Google’s algorithm change, a lot of SEO-driven content farms took huge hits in terms of traffic.
According to a study from Sistrix, Associated Content was among the biggest losers, down an eviscerating 93% from traffic on keywords and click-throughs.
So what’s an ol’ content farm to do?
Mike Essex over at Koozai (formerly Impact Media) posits that the next step might be eBooks. His reasoning is sound: eBooks, for now, are largely unregulated (i.e. no copyright detectors) so repurposing content and slapping a book together can be done for next to nothing. The low barriers to entry and quick turnaround time (24 hours) also helps ensure that a book can be put together and sold quietly without a reader ever knowing where the content came from.
Is it unethical? Depends on which camp you’re coming from, but bottom-line profit drivers are hardly in the business of rosary clutching. And if content farmers are to become content pirates they’d need to act quickly, before laws that more cohesively regulate the eBook industry become cemented, and eventually, enforced. Mike makes the excellent point that plagiarism detectors comparing eBook content with the rest of the Web will be needed (which I’m sure the braintrust at Google can put together in half a day; they’ve done it before), and some policing entity will need to be put in place to make sure that the eBook industry doesn’t come to be dominated by the farmers. Or pirates. Or whatever they are.
After all: if a self-published 26-year old can make millions off vampire-romance eBooks, imagine what a scummy publishing company could do without a moral ticker and a heap of resources.
(via Read Write Web)
More on TIME.com: