Google 'Panda' Update Kills Content Farming Jobs's quarterly jobs report finds less demand for cheap articles and more projects for iOS and Android developers.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

May 6, 2011

2 Min Read

While the U.S. economy demonstrated some strength in April with the addition of 244,000 jobs, the news wasn't entirely good: The jobless rate, derived from a different data set, rose to 9% from 8.8% last month.

Matt Barrie, CEO of, an online job marketplace, suggests that Google may have played a role in the rising unemployment, though mainly outside the U.S. The search company's recent "Panda" algorithm change, implemented to reduce the presence of low-quality content in search results, appears to have decimated the content farming business, he said in a phone interview.

Low-quality content is difficult to define, but the term generally refers to poorly written, cheaply produced articles filled with words and phrases that have been chosen to match popular search engine queries and thus generate search ad revenue.

According to data from's Freelancer Fast 50 report, article submission jobs are down 29% (-2011 jobs) in Q1 2011 from the previous quarter, copywriting jobs are down 19% (-1300 jobs), and ghostwriting jobs are down by 12% (-435 jobs).

"A lot of them are at the content farming end of the spectrum," said Barrie, who added that demand for Adobe Flash developers also suffered. He attributes this decline to Apple's hostility to the Flash platform.

Job listings for Adobe Flash developers took the second biggest hit, declining 27% in Q1 2011, compared to Q4 2010.

Demand for Apple-oriented programmers however rose. iPhone development jobs increased 12% during the same period (+289), iPad project listings increased 18% (+179), and Cocoa (Mac OS X) jobs jumped 41% (+127).

Interest in hiring Android developers increased as well, rising 15%. And Barrie expects that trend to continue. "We think Android will overtake iOS," he said. "The growth rates are much higher than what we're seeing on iPhone."

Sadly for Microsoft, Freelancer doesn't have any positive trends to report. As Freelancer Fast 50 report put it, "Jobs related to Microsoft related products continued their seemingly terminal descent." These include: MS Access (-15%), MS Expression (-28%), Windows Mobile (-9%), Microsoft (general, -16%), Windows CE (-20%), Windows Desktop (-23%), Windows Server (-27%). Also noteworthy: Nokia Symbian job postings declined 32%.

The Freelancer Fast 50 is based on data from 107,449 jobs posted on during the first quarter of 2011.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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