The Rise Of The Like Farm

Like FarmYears ago when Google began dominating the search industry, one of the biggest challenges for the search engines was discovering link farms. As Wikipedia describes, “a link farm is any group of web sites that all hyperlink to every other site in the group”. It was also an extremely effective technique for spamming search engines and boosting placement for various keywords. Now developers have created similar sites except instead of linking to places, the site encourages users to like objects.

As Dennis Yu illustrated this morning, there’s a significant opportunity to create link farms right now because Facebook doesn’t have any restrictions in place … yet. Facebook search is extremely early in its evolution. Just last week we began noticing occurrences of results that link to sites outside of Facebook. Once we confirmed that all Open Graph objects show up in search, it became abundantly clear that this evolution of Facebook search competes directly with Google.

While users are mostly searching Facebook for their friends currently, users will begin to search for more generic topics as Facebook slowly changes user behavior. Right now, showing up for the phrase “discount travel” won’t necessarily benefit you, however as Facebook improves their search product and users begin to understand that they can search for things other than their friends, ranking high on various keywords will become increasingly important.

In the meantime, the numerous “like farms” that are spamming Facebook with random quotes and phrases (like, LikeItPage, and others) will continue to proliferate until Facebook develops a system that determine which add value and which are just spam generators. Have you seen many sites like the ones listed? Do you think like farms are just for spam or are actually useful?