Will Elitism and Prejudice Unfairly Squeeze Out the Freelance Writer?


For quite some time, there has been a quiet battle between online content producers or Freelance Writers online and the so called established sources of information.  There is almost an elitist prejudice against Writers who earn a living by writing content to satisfy what the user is looking for, as if the so called established information sources don't do the same.  They are in the business of suppying information that is useful to their readers. This is the same with the Freelance Writer who writes outside of the established network. The Internet has almost made the writing field and equal playing field and this has upset many in the “established” world of journalism. 

The problem is not poor content getting in the top of the search engines; the problem is that some in the “established” field of Journalism are upset because the playing field has become so leveled.  Thanks to Google’s practice of not giving preferential treatment to big named companies and giving everyone a chance to be seen by the billions of people searching for information online. The elitism among some of these established producers of content, gives them the false impression that they are the only trusted sources of information because they went to school and got a Journalism degree.  While some of the Freelance Writers who write for so called “content farms,” have advanced degrees in many areas of study and practice. While others spend a great deal of time writing and researching a topic to benefit the reader.

 Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines have qualified staff that goes through the listings and rate them for quality and content. Therefore, if they are at the top of the search engines, it is because they provide good quality content specific to the user’s search intent.


A Message to the Search Engines on Maintaining Fairness In Their Search Engine Ranking Process

In a February 10, 2011 article in the New York Times, written by Claire Cain Miller, there seems to be an upcoming onslaught planned against Online Content Writers or Freelance Writers. According to the article:

“Demand Media uses software that looks at activity on search engines, Facebook and Twitter; generates headlines based on it; and assigns freelancers to write corresponding pieces. The result is articles like “How to Lose Weight in Your Face,” which is a top Google result for related searches and includes tips like “drink plenty of water.”

But that approach might not be so effective for long. In recent weeks, there has been swelling criticism in technology circles of these types of Web sites, and of Google for listing the articles as top results.

Blekko, a search engine that limits results to an edited list of sites, removed all links to eHow and Answerbag. Google said it was working on changes that would push such links lower in search results.

‘We definitely have heard feedback in the last two weeks that people are concerned about the low-quality content farms in Google, and we’re working on a variety of algorithms to try to address that,’ Matt Cutts, a principal engineer at Google who leads the Web spam team, said in an interview. He declined to single out any specific sites.”

Who are those in the “technology circles” that have launched criticisms? Is there a plan to remove competition by labeling non-traditional sources of information as “spam” sites and “content mills?”

What if someone was looking for “Ways to lose weight in the face” and these online content sources are the only place where they can find this information because they cannot get this type of information from so-called traditional sources of information? If that is what the customer is looking for and the information is backed by scientific data or data from reputable sources and not just nonsensical words put together on the screen, why shouldn’t they be put on top of the search results?

According to the New York Times, even Matt Cutts, a principle engineer at Google, labels some content sites as “content mills” which is a name that generates mistrust and suspicion as opposed to useful content that helps the millions of readers who actually find the information useful.

It is important that Google and other search engines maintains objectivity and not label  some informational websites as “content mills” and at the same time, putting them in the category of spam.  After all, online newspapers could be considered “content mills” as well because they provide content to their readers. They also display ads on their content pages, so what is the difference? By labeling sites as "content mills" likening them to "diploma mills," which are places that take your money and gives your a fake diploma or degree certificate. The term "mills" has a negative connotation in the minds of most people. It is important that Google and other Search Engines fairly assess the submissions for quality content and usefulness to the readers and not blacklist so called “content farm” or “content mills” based on elitist prejudice from those who are not ready to move into the new age of writing and journalism.

If a user enters “How to Lose 40 Pounds In Three Months,” then that’s what they are looking for. They want to know step-by-step how to do this process. They want to know what books to read, how to do the calculations and who to contact if they need help. Therefore, why shouldn’t a content producing site with this information that is valuable to the user be listed at the top of the search engines-even if one of the steps is to “drink more water?” 

If a user enters “How to Shrink Fibroids with Diet,” they want to know what foods to eat in order to shrink their fibroids. They do not want you to tell them you can't do it, especially since there is clinical evidence proving that it can be done with diet and supplements.  If a well-written and researched article from an article content site has this information, then why should it not be at the top of the search results just because it was not written by the Mayo Clinic?

The point of Google and other search engine is to deliver to the users, exactly what they want.  When content producing sites start being labeled as “spam” and demoted in the search results because those in the “technology circles” launched a complaint, then the Search Engines start to misuse their power. This type of prejudice makes it easy for content producers to fall victim to unfair ranking practices.


 The Objective Is to Return Useful and Relevant Results That Satisfies User Intent

Not to Appease the Elitist "Technology Circle"

It is vitally important that Google and other search engines maintain objectivity and not label content producing sites as “content farms” or “content mills.” It gives them a negative connotation and does not give them the credit they deserve in supplying useful content to its readers and filling a large content gap usually not addressed by traditional sources of information online. Of course, there are some websites that misuse the SEO process. Web pages that offer no value to the reader should be removed from the listings or demoted into obscurity. However, broad sweeping generalizations of content produced by Freelance Writers online, is a gross misrepresentation of the ethics and abilities of those Writers.

Those professionals who have their own blogs or write for online content sources should be alarmed and realize that there is a chance they might be unfairly penalized in the search engines because of prejudice from the elite. There is a place online for everyone, and as long as Google and other search engines gives the user what they are looking for, then there shouldn’t be an issue whether that answer comes from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or other sources like Infobarrel, Hubpages or eHow.  The point of the search engine is to satisfy the intent of the user.

Let Google know how you feel about the matter. Here is Google's contact information:

Google Inc.

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: +1 650-253-0000
Fax: +1 650-253-0001
(courtesy of Google.com)


The New York Times: Web Words that Lure Readers