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Demand Media CEO: Google Not Talking About Us

"Content Farm" Articles Still Ranking in Questionable Circumstances

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Last week, Google’s Matt Cutts put up a blog post talking about a shift in focus to content farms, which he defines as "sites with shallow or low-quality content". Most people that read this assumed he was talking about sites like some of those offered by Demand Media (eHow.com, for example), which launched an IPO this week valuing the company at $1.5 billion

It’s not that people thought Cutts was talking only about Demand Media, but most of the time when an article is written about "content farms", Demand Media is cited, as it has basically become the poster child for the phrase. 

Cutts then announced that Google has implemented an algorithm change, but things are still rather murky with regards to whether or not this one embodies a change geared at content farms and/or sites like those from Demand Media. Cutts refers to "one thing" he mentioned in the original post that the new change is geared towards, but does not mention content farms themselves. More on this here

Peter Kafka at AllThingsD had a conversation with Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt who maintains that a. Demand Media is not a "content farm" and b. Matt Cutts was not talking about Demand Media in the post. 

Rosenblatt is quoted as saying, "It’s not directed at us in any way," in reference to Cutts’ original comments, though he declined to comment on whether or not he talked to Google about it. 

He is also quoted as saying, "He’s talking about duplicate, non-original content. Every single piece of ours is original. Written by somebody. And I understand how that could confuse some people, because of that stupid ‘content farm’ label, which we got tagged with. I don’t know who ever invented it, and who tagged us with it, but that’s not us…We keep getting tagged with ‘content farm’. It’s just insulting to our writers. We don’t want our writers to feel like they’re part of a ‘content farm.’

That’s fair. Nobody can blame Rosenblatt for not wanting the label, and the company has indicated repeatedly that it has stepped up efforts to improve its quality – though they clearly have a ways to go to reach a high level across the board. 

It’s hard to believe, however, that Cutts meant for sites from Demand Media to not be included under the "content farm" label. As Demand Media is generally the first company that comes to mind or is mentioned anytime the word "content farm" is mentioned around the web, why would Cutts use that phrase if Demand was not included? 

Content Farm Usually turns up where Demand Media does

Cutts did say Google was evaulating a change that "primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content," but that  appears to be in reference to "pure webspam", as he says, quickly following that with, "attention has shifted instead to ‘content farms,’ which are sites with shallow or low-quality content."

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t benefits to Google that come from Demand Media. As Rosenblatt says in the interview, their partnership "makes sense."

"We help them fill the gaps in their index, where they don’t have quality content…We’re the largest supplier of all video to YouTube… we’re a large AdSense partner. So our relationship is synergistic, and it’s a great partnership," said Rosenblatt.

At PubCon in November, Matt Cutts said there was a debate going on internally at Google over whether they should consider content farms web spam, saying they were wrestling about the topic. He said that users were pretty angry with content farms, adding that there may be a time for web spam at Google to take action against them.

So it sounds like not everyone agreed on how to handle "content farms". 

According to Rosenblatt, Demand’s traffic only went up when Google implemented changes last year like Mayday, Caffeine, and Google Instant, but it’s hard to see how Google’s new approach will help it. Cutts said in his post, "We hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content."

If "people" are asking for stronger action on "content farms", are these not the same people tagging Demand Media with the label? 

If Demand Media and other sites that are commonly labeled as content farms want to continue to reap the Google rewards, they’re going to have to keep up the quality  - that is if Google truly does take action like it has indicated, which we’ve really yet to see so far. 

You can still search for "level 4 brain cancer" on Google and the top 2 results are from eHow. The top one comes from a freelance writer with a background in marriage psychology and family therapy, whose other featured articles on the site include titles like "Kohler Toilet Won’t Flush Completely", "Roper Dryer Won’t Start", and "My Toilet Water Smells". 

eHow Contributor

Again, nothing against the author or even the article, but is it really the first thing that Google should be showing to someone searching for a term like "level 4 brain cancer". Wouldn’t a more medical-related site make more sense – even the local results that Google is pushing so often lately for maybe? How about the National Brain Tumor Society at braintumor.org, which is displayed in the paid results on the right-hand side of the page?

The second result is also from eHow, and THEN a guide from the MGH Brain Tumor Center. Also included in the top ten – results from Associated Content and Yahoo Answers. Some content from the A.P. John Institute for Cancer Research is the last result on the page. You get the idea. 

Level4 Brain Cancer results show ehow at top

Is this not the kind of thing Cutts was talking about when using the phrase "content farm"? The top article does not even have any links in it referencing expert information (though it does have ad links) – no way to know if the source is trustworthy or if the information is accurate – nothing to back anything up (though Rosenblatt has claimed in the past that medical articles are fact-checked with doctors). That’s not to say it’s not an accurate article, but how is the reader supposed to know? How is someone with brain cancer searching for information on the subject supposed to gain anything helpful from this without questioning it? This is just an example, and it’s not that the article shouldn’t have been written, but should it be the most prominent piece of information related to this query?  There is no information on the page indicating that the writer is in any way an expert on the subject of brain cancer.  He’s simply an "eHow contributor". 

As far as Demand "filling in the gaps" for Google’s search results, it may have accomplished that, and moved much further into saturating the areas were there are no gaps. 

Therein lies the problem. This is why people are "calling for action" on content farms, as Cutts says. Most critics will even acknowledge that there is plenty of high quality content coming out of Demand Media, Associated Content and others, but all too often it isn’t the highest quality choice of content for the queries for which it is being presented as such.

Google will not come out and say whether or not it considers Demand Media a content farm. Even Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports they’ve been ignoring the question from them. That publication calls Demand a content mill, after interviewing its chief innovation officer. 

Is content from so-called "content farms" hurting people? Probably not. I like to think people can figure out on their own what content to trust, based on the information and credentials required, and that more content also means more options to help you make more informed decisions, but that doesn’t mean the good content is always easy to find under Google’s current system. Sometimes the more relevant content is buried, and the user has to work harder to reach that goal of the informed decision. 

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Demand Media CEO: Google Not Talking About Us
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  • Chris Crum

    Thanks Matthew. We’ll see how far Google goes.

  • http://priorityresults.com/blog/author/bhaugen/ Brian Haugen

    Yep, the quality on both Google’s and Demand Media’s side need to improve. Though I have to admit that I frequently click on an eHow link when I’m searching for info. That’s probably not helping Google out with improving their side.

    Here’s more detail and ideas on this topic from our blog. How to Beat Spammers at Their Own Game: http://priorityresults.com/blog/web-content-how-to-beat-spammers-at-their-own-game/

    Thanks

    • Chris Crum

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with clicking through to an eHow article. I’m not saying that all of their content is bad. In fact, if you’re trying to figure out why your toilet well water smells, for example, it might be quite helpful (maybe.). And it never hurts to read multiple articles on a subject before taking one point of view as the gospel.

  • http://www.glassman96.com John

    I rarely read an article from eHow anyway because to me it is not a professional site that deals with the specific topic that I am searching for so how do I know that they are people that know what they are talking about? My main reason to go to what they call content farms is to post an article, get traffic and a backlink.

  • http://eb-arts.com Eric Brown

    First off, when does Google start to play favorites with sites regarding organic search? I understand that a site such as National Brain Tumor Society would be desired as the top result but part of it comes down to quality SEO. Should eHow be penalized because they structure their content better than “a more medical-related site?” I don’t think so. At some point these other sites need to step up to the bar and meet or exceed changing web standards. A company like Demand Media makes sure they are doing what they need to so they stay competitive in a content driven world and should in no way be penalized for creating a content and media company, marketing it effectively and beating out competitive sites in search.

    Also, I think it’s going to be tough for Google to consider Demand Media sites such as eHow as “content farms” when they are valued at over $1 billion and are taking the company public.
    News Here Regarding Going Public

    Secondly, I take offense to the tone regarding the writing. As a writer for Demand Media, I think it shameful for one to imply that because a writer writes an article about a toilet that he is sub-par in some fashion. Ever had toilet problems? Bet your plumber doesn’t have a BS nor is he working on his Master’s Degree. I think respect should be shown for someone who has a BS in psychology and is willing to write articles regarding toilet problems.

    • Guest

      McDonalds also serves up something resembling food. That doesn’t make it nutritious, and eHow and DS articles are the web equivalent to McDonalds’ food. By the way, I have written a great deal for DS. That doesn’t make me an expert on everything I write about, a serious writer nor a journalist. It only makes me someone who’s trying bring in a few bucks in a bad economy.

    • Chris Crum

      As I said in the article…nothing against the author, but I don’t see how any of that qualifies him as being an expert in brain cancer…particularly more of an expert than the information on dedicated cancer sites.

  • http://www.quikstarts.com Kyle

    Alot of ehows content is not good according to advanced Internet users BUT may be very helpful to those just coming online and yes that group of people still exist OR those that are simply not tech savvy.

    “How about the National Brain Tumor Society at braintumor.org, which is displayed in the paid results on the right-hand side of the page?”

    So, companies or sites with ad budgets who have not optimized content for search engines go on the right side in the sponsored results section and pay to be seen and sites that are optimized go in the organic results to the left. Both are shown on the first page at the top of the results.

    Seems fair to me.

    I dont want to see Google tweaking its algo to care for that. Then all optimized sites that may have good content will suffer because some site that its supposed to be an authority gets first dibs.

    We dont want that, we want the little unknown guy to have a shot at building credibility versus deferring to the status quo.

    Its not Google role to tweak for that in my opinion.

  • http://www.ebizroi.com/blog/ Rick Noel

    Great article Chris with great examples. Somehow, Paul Brights is not the one trusted resource I am going to trust if level 4 brain cancer is my concern, with no offense to Paul intended. Your examples really highlight your points on Content Farms.

    The game is a bit like police radar guns and radar detectors. When the cops get new technologies to detect speeders on the highway, the speeders get new technology to avoid detection.

    As their are a number of new entrants in search (e.g. blekko, wolfram, others) and some mergers of top competitors (i.e. Yahoo! and Bing), it would seem that this kind of thing would keep Matt and his team up at night to make sure to hold on to the dominant 2/3 US search market!

  • http://bellesouth.blogspot.com Bellesouth

    I’ve been writing paid content for Demand Media for a few months now, and I can see both sides of the issue. Keep in mind here I am NOT speaking for Demand Media; I’m a self-employed writer.

    I think what Demand’s CEO is talking about is the writers like me – called “eHow Contributors” – whose work is checked for plagiarism, goes through a copy editor, references are checked, and goes through a bit more scrutiny than articles you see by “eHow Members” who just post whatever they want and can use references that can’t be found online.

    I can say with certainty that at least my articles published on eHow are original and researched content. I’m sure other paid contributors to the site would share the same sentiment.

    When I think “content farm” I tend to think about a bot page that has a ton of keywords and links to a bunch of news articles and content that really have nothing to do with what you are searching for. I think if eHow got rid of the “member”-submitted content and just had paid contributor-submitted content, the quality of the site would be much better.

    • Guest

      Demand Media no longer allows member contributions. That said, as long as they pay only $15 per article, writers cannot make a reasonable living, and to make a modest living (think nearly impoverished after taxes), they must write an article per hour. Very few conscientious writers can do that. To really research a short, simple article and produce original content, it takes about 2 hours. Bam–turn a $28,000 living into a $14,000 living. This encourages writers to go to another site, find the answer, reword it, and submit it as original content. In any academic setting, taking someone else’s work and rearranging it is considered plagiarism, but DS and its writers convince themselves that it is not.

      OK. Wait a few minutes and watch for the DS writers who will rush over here defend it, even though they often admit they are on food stamps, facing foreclosure, or in other dire circumstances.

      • http://bellesouth.blogspot.com Bellesouth

        I don’t rely on Demand Media as my sole source of income, and I am also not in “dire circumstances.” I can see where you are going with the $15/article bit; it is extremely unrealistic for a writer to live on that. I don’t mean to defend the site or not to; I just know my experience with it. I didn’t know DM no longer accepted member articles.

  • http://www.the-system.org The System

    Once again great topic and report Chris!
    Why do content farms exist?
    To drive traffic to ads, and on the more spammy side these are the adsense blogs that you see everywhere or to create links for higher rankings.
    What will Google Do?
    Like you’ve reported before webspam is a problem for google servers, but I beleive the main reason any changes have/will occur will be aimed at eradicating those sites set up purely to ‘pass link juice’.
    After all google will not zap sites with adsense – would they?
    The problem for google is that all sites that produce content could be seen as a content farm especially if they have good syndication.
    Another problem is that google cannot distinguish and measure ‘quality’ so if a content farm was proerly structured they would not be able to detect it!
    Expect to see the loose theme content sites drop for specific longtails!

    • Chris Crum

      According to Cutts, “Google absolutely takes action on sites that violate our quality guidelines regardless of whether they have ads powered by Google.”

  • http://www.hypertextsystems.com/blog David Johnson

    I don’t fault Google a bit for weeding out content farms. I don’t visit ehow.com enough to know if it is.

    Google is #1 because it is the most proactive to give searchers what they want. People do not have loyalty to a search engine. They want it right and they want it right now. If you can’t give it to them, then they’ll search somewhere else!

    Consumer impatience is what drives companies to change.

    For instance, I believe all article sites are content farms. 99.99999999% of all articles on these sites are crap. I post to them because I want the backlink juice and to sell my stuff. Article sites want the content because the millions of articles get rank and the resultant adsense revenue from visitors.

    I get dozens of emails a day for teleseminars on how to game Google for rank.

    I will drop Google as my favorite search engine in a heartbeat if another comes along that can get me to my answer in fewer clicks.

  • http://kimberlykimbrough.com Kimberly Kimbrough

    It’s so amazing how we as a collective have given Google so much power over the Internet. In fact let’s just call it the “Googlenet.”

    My questions is this: Isn’t Google a content farm, too?

    Also, we fuss and complain about people stealing content from other people’s websites, but isn’t Google doing the exact same thing? They are growing because they hold the content of other people and simply list it in a directory. They have taken from billions of websites and have made billions.

  • Briggs Leon

    Well, I would assume that they are referring to blog spam and maybe article directories that publish thousands of syndicated/duplicated pages per day.

    I think that the “level 4 brain cancer” result is accurate for people looking for just basic information on the topic. If you simply want to know what “level 4 brain cancer” is that’s a good article.

    However, I do think Google gives these sites too much ranking power. Because the domain is trusted it’s easier for freelance writers to get their pages ranked qucikly using a site like ehow.

    Google might want to change that, but I actually think the results are much more accurate than they were when they didn’t give sites like ehow and wikipedia the benefit of the doubt.

    • Rich Ord

      How would one know that an article on “level 4 brain cancer” is accurate when it is clearly not written by a doctor or even a journalist?

      Google should not allow eHow and other content farm articles that are written on topics that require professional expertise to rank at the top of their search results. That would include medical, legal and investment topics.

      It seems like a very basic concept to me.

    • Guest

      Freelance writers do not use eHow to get their own pages ranked. The writers at eHow are not allowed link back to their own sites or to use their freelance sites as references. Think about it: DS wants people clicking on ads, not running off to a lowly freelance writer’s site. It makes its money from ads.

  • http://www.losebellyfat.org.uk/ Jon Wade

    At least with content farms the content is sometimes adequate, i.e. it gives an answer to a question. It may not be the best answer, but can help. What really annoys me are all the “review sites” which simply list the latest products with a note saying “be the first to review this product” (i.e. no review) then affiliate links. Google should get this crap off their SERPs first.

    • Rich Ord

      Google should remove from their index any content that is obviously written for Adsense including junk review sites. However, most of that content doesn’t rank in the top ten results like content farm articles from eHow do. All content from eHow is not bad, but from my experience most of it is not very good.

      You have to ask yourself, why is Google ranking content farm articles near the top of results for so many search terms? You would think a search engine that says it isn’t biasing search results to favor its Adsense customers wouldn’t give one site like eHow so much Google love.

      Forget the quality of the articles for a moment, why has Google let one site dominant in its search results?

      • Just a thought

        “Forget the quality of the articles for a moment, why has Google let one site dominant in its search results?”

        AOL has SEED. Yahoo now has Associated Content…Google has ???

        Facebook is getting ready for an IPO in 2012 using the same folks Demand did, Goldman-Sachs. Demand just announced that all writers for eHow must now log in through Facebook.

        is it too far fetched to see a merger between Demand and Facebook? Is it too far fetched to see a buyout of both by Google?

        • Guest

          Correction: They announced the eHow users must log in through Facebook, not their writers. We (the writers) still log in through the Demand media Studios site.

  • Guest

    I think it’s a pretty low to single out one ehow writer like this and plaster his pic all over your blogpost.

    I note you’re also not immune from accusations of inaccuracy:

    http://phaseportrait.blogspot.com/2005/06/chris-crum-is-idiot.html

    • Rich Ord

      I don’t think it’s “low”, I think it is perfectly reasonable to show examples from the content Google is ranking number 1 in its results, especially related to sensitive topics like brain surgery.

      Obviously, the headline Chris used for an article he wrote back in 2005 was meant to be humorous, not sexist. Linking to some blogger who unjustly calls Chris an idiot over five years ago doesn’t help your point much my friend.

      Rich Ord
      CEO, iEntry, Inc.
      Publisher of WebProNews

      • Chris Crum

        I’ve been called worse.

    • Chris Crum

      As I thought I made pretty clear in the article….nothing against the author of that article. It wasn’t about singling anyone out. It was just an example to prove a point. I also didn’t accuse him of providing inaccurate information. In fact, I’m not faulting the author in any way, shape or form. I’m wondering why Google thinks that is the best result to show users looking for level 4 brain cancer information. I’m not saying the article shouldn’t have been written, but I seriously doubt that’s going to be the most trusted possible result for someone searching for that query.

  • Curious Observer

    Although it is understandable the “show” stance you put on about content farms, but in making the changes you desire wouldn’t that also negate the possibility to market products on the net by would be marketers? I mean this is the basis of this site to bring forth news and ideas for marketers in regards to SEO, marketing and branding. In essence you are indeed promoting the very thing you are so adamantly against.

    • Rich Ord

      There is no “show” stance here, just exposing some poor results in Google and hoping for improvements that would in my opinion make the search engine better for its users. It would help marketers, not hurt them if Google would demote in their search results articles from the big content farms like eHow in certain verticals.

      There would be more room at the top of Google results for everyone if eHow, wikiHow and other content farms and article submission sites didn’t dominate so many results.

      Rich Ord
      CEO, iEntry, Inc.
      Publisher of WebProNews

      • Just a thought

        The content farms didn’t create this mess. Google and unscrupulous affiliate marketers did. Google is selling advertising space. Content farms provide more property. As long as Google is making money, do you really believe they will put a bite into the content farms? We build sites and blogs every day and slap Adsense up or some other form of advertising. eHow was, and is, a prime example of scam marketers allowed to run rampant. Demand is attempting to clean that mess up, but it’ll take some time. For the content farms to go away, Google would have to stop allowing their advertising on them. That is just not going to happen, especially with a property as large as Demand.

        Content farms need to manage better. They must pay a higher rate and have an editorial process resembling that of traditional media. To demand that Google change algorithms to somehow punish content farms would only serve to make it even that much more difficult for everybody.

        • Guest

          Just an FYI: Those marketers pay Demand Media for that ad space, and no one publishes anything on eHow that is not vetted by Demand Media. Just saying…

  • http://www.fever18.com Rahul Gupta

    Nice to read, but will Google really ban a site like eHow from their search engine for content farming?

    Lets see…

    • Chris Crum

      I don’t think eHow content should be banned from Google. I just think that it shows up at the top more often than it should.

  • http://www.aa1car.com Larry

    As a publisher of original quality internet content, it makes me mad that content farms such as ehow essentially steal and rewrite my content so they can cash in on specific key words. They do cite my website as a resource, but they probably assign a “no follow” attribute to the link.

    The problem with Google’s search engine is that there is very little if any human intervention in the process of evaluating and ranking web content. A spider crawls a page on a website, makes a list of key words, looks at the inbound and outgoing links (if any), and then ranks the relevance and importance of the page based on a complex formula. It’s a good starting place for sorting the zillions of webpages that are on the internet, but Google needs to take it to the next level and have people actually look at top ranked pages to see if they really deserve the importance Google assigns to them. They best people for doing this would be “experts” in a given field who can intelligently judge the value of the content.

    When content farms pay people who are NOT experts in a particular field to essentially steal and rewrite content from other websites for the sole purpose of achieving high page rank, the product is a LOT of relatively worthless pages that end up at the top of key word search results. Meanwhile, the good stuff that might actually provide some real information lies buried so far down the list of search engine results it is seldom viewed.

    Search engines need to adapt to the subject matter, not the other way around. A writer can create a page of absolute gibberish, but as long as it contains the right percentage of key words and key word subheads or captions, and a few good inbound links, Google will rank it above many pages that actually say something useful and intelligent.

  • http://www.ownstlucia.com/ Saint Lucia Properties

    All the hoorah about Google’s non relevant and spammy SERPs are coming from Internet Marketers whose arguments are self serving. To pull out a few results and make generalisations is in my mind short of credibility and ihighly rresponsible. There are many cases of relevant search but do you choose to highlight it? No because it is not in keeping with your agenda that the SERPs are populated with spam. The average person does not coomplain. If I don’t get what I’m looking for I move to the next page or change my search terms. The average user is not an idiot and when he a she does a search he or she is in the best position to determine its relevancy.

    • Rich Ord

      Examples are there to illustrate a point, nothing more. There is no agenda with Chris or WebProNews other than informing readers. This is a news story since Google’s Matt Cutts mentioned in a highly reported blog post that Google is making algorithm changes that will impact “content farms”. That was his term, not ours. This coincided with the fact that Demand Media which owns eHow went public this week and is now valued at $1.8 Billion. So the idea that a billion dollar company could come crashing down if Google actually decided to penalize them is interesting to a lot of people.

      Your statement that “If I don’t get what I’m looking for I move to the next page or change my search terms” makes me wonder if you think it is inappropriate to encourage Google to deliver the most relevant results to its users.

      Rich Ord
      CEO, iEntry, Inc.
      Publisher of WebProNews

      • Carol Frome

        Well said. I for one have appreciated your publication. If you don’t care when you get bad results, then why complain about good results?

      • http://www.ownstlucia.com/ Saint Lucia Real Estate

        Chris has clearly taken a position in this matter as suggested by the angle of his post. I suppose taking a few exampe and extrapolating it to make generalisatins makes perfect and logical scientific sense to you. In simple language there has not provided suifficient evidence to support his arguments. Please let Chris speak for hmself. He is a big boy, very articulate and more than capable of refuting my arguiments/statements. Errors? Please blame my BB..

  • http://www.robbellwebdesign.com Rob Bell

    Looking at this from a slightly different angle, I think there’s a much wider problem that needs to be addressed in the field of Internet Marketing.

    Novice Marketers are being badly advised by many well-known Internet Marketing ‘Gurus’ to create info products and content in a very short timescale with poor quality of info. They’re encouraged to source info from high-ranking sites (not necessarily the best quality, or verified, content in many cases) and to use and spin this info to create their own products and articles, and establish a perceived level of expertise – that they don’t necessarily have. I’ve read ‘courses’ from many IMers that go down this route.

    So a newcomer runs around grabbing content from an assortment of high ranking sites for their own product/article, then produces a cut-n-paste info product or article that may not be entirely accurate or factual… which may then get ‘spun’ by software they were advised to buy to produce more articles that don’t always make sense, and uploaded via other ‘must-have’ software to hundreds of article sites in its’ original and spun form… so a rubbish article may end up being contained on 500+ pages through the wealth of article directories and user content aggregators (or content farms, if you like). There’s no malice intended from the provider – they’ve just been given terrible advice and know no better.

    Thus the overall level of quality information in many subject areas is falling, as lower quality info begins to saturate the search engine results. The next problem comes when these newcomers become ‘pros’ and start teaching the same methods to the next set of newcomers… so the problem is exponentially increased over time.

    But how can this be stopped unless you start demanding people only write articles on subjects they hold a measured level of competence in – and how do you measure and quantify that competence? How does that work with subjective information that could be right or wrong depending on how you feel about a subject? Not everyone has formal, recognised qualifications in everything they’re knowledgeable in, and many subject areas have no formal qualification route.

    It’s a massive problem that probably won’t be fixed without damaging the high quality content and articles provided by the real experts on subjects as well. I don’t think it’s a problem that can be solved entirely using automated solutions, and I don’t think it’s a problem that’s going to go away.

    The World Wide Web itself is a giant content farm, how do you sort the wheat from the chaff and how, to continue the field analogy, do you identify and locate the high quality needles in the massive content haystacks?

    • Guest

      Good points. As to competently researched and written articles, here’s how respected journals do it: Every article, whether written by a lay person or expert, is vetted by experts on the subject.

      • Chris Crum

        It’s worth noting that Rosenblatt (Demand’s CEO) has made a point of saying that Demand’s content is “not journalism”.

        • Guest

          He calls it “service journalism.”

          • Chris Crum

            When I attended a session he spoke in at SXSW last year, he said he doesn’t see what Demand Media is doing as journalism – that journalism is news, and this isn’t news… “Only the journalists call us journalists,” he said.

  • http://kercommunications.com Nick

    I applaud Google

  • Guest

    I write for Demand Studios on occasion – like when I need some quick cash. It is very frustrating as a writer to be boxed into the formats because let me tell you, the writer’s guidelines read like a eHow article. Of course, money is money and they pay well for such short worthless articles. They have writers knocking out 10-15 articles a day over there (which is some nice cash) but knocking out what kind of quality? All the writers know they are there for money only – none of them truly think what they do there is actually writing.

    • Chris Crum

      I guess it adds to the point when even one who writes for it calls the articles “worthless”.

  • http://thecomputergal.com Nora McDougall-Collins

    Taking a guess here, I’d say that Google wants the searching public to be satisfied with their search results. Now, what do viewers want, 1) an article ground out with keywords by someone who will write 12 more articles that day on various topics, 2) an article by an expert who spends most of his/her day actually working in that field.

    Hmmm, tough choice there. If Demand Media fits #1, what do they have to complain about. If you are an article mill, your authors are, well, content mills! Does Demand Media give it’s authors advice on how to “re-purpose” your articles? Does Demand Media suggest formulas for cranking out as many articles in a day as possible? Does Demand Media check the credentials of their authors in their subject? Skip the rhetoric and stick to defined definitions. Being “insulted” does not make you right.

    • JC

      You forgot that G. is supposed to be a S.E., not a content grader. They should stick to indexing the web and quit screwing around. People, business owners shouldn’t have to be this afraid of G. It’s time for the government to intervene and break them apart. Maybe that will lower their ego a bit. G. is destroying millions of businesses left and right with their stupid algo. changes which concentrates on fighting a minority of blackhat marketers.

      Openleaks is their worst enemy now. When is anybody start some type of TECHLEAKS.COM site? It’s badly needed! CNN, WashingtonPost and other news outlets would like to know how unfairly the search engines’ algo. treasts their sites. A can of worms would be opened.

  • Guest

    Not too long ago, WPN reported on a story about a Facebook ad sponsor who is promoting the BIng search engine and how Google’s Matt Cutts had the nerve to accuse those companies of dirty business practices. Google is actually much much worse than Facebook (and considering how dishonest Facebook is, that’s saying a lot). Google doesn’t care about quality. They’re a dangerous company attempting to form a search monopoly. They don’t care about the user experience. I know of a high quality medical website that isn’t on the first page of Google’s SERPs- the company is RightHealth. That company just so happens to link to a smaller health website that Google has been attempting to bury in the search engine results. Matt Cutts doesn’t care about removing spam, he wants to remove any company that competes with the ones that Google is in business with. Google is already losing popularity, Blekko has called them out for poor quality, Bing and yahoo are cutting into their search profits… If people within Google are at odds with each other over this issue, you know the house is falling apart. They’re going to back track on this one, but all of these things add up to the end of Google.

  • Guest

    I think it’s really bad taste to include someone’s profile and photo and hold it up as an example. Seriously, bad taste and poor judgment.

    • Rich Ord

      It is not WebProNews putting their profile on the Internet, it is eHow and Demand Media. We are simply illustrating that eHow has articles on the Internet written by people without the credentials to write such articles and that Google is ranking those articles in their top results.

      Rich Ord
      CEO, iEntry, Inc.
      Publisher of WebProNews

    • Chris Crum

      As previously mentioned, it’s not about singling anybody out. It could have been anybody’s profile. That just happened to be the one that came up for the brain cancer article that was used as an example in the piece. No disrespect to the author in intended.

      • Guest

        Whether or not your intention was to single someone out or not, based on the fact that you only used a single individual in your article, he was singled out there. Hence the word single…you would think a writer would realize that.

  • Guest

    One of the first things I do when looking for information is to check the writer’s credentials. I no longer use eHow for anything but a laugh after trying to obtain credible info from them on a number of occasions.

    It amazes me that they have “writers” who list “crafts” as their specialty yet are writing medical and financial articles at eHow. What the hell is Rosenblatt thinking? Is it truly that difficult to find specialists?

    That brain cancer article is frightening. Truly frightening. I do hope Google does something about this.

  • http://www.techoholic.in Vikalp

    It would be interesting to see how much success they could achieve with this.
    (I doubt much success though.. :P)

  • Guest

    All this back and forth prompted me to think that many objections to eHow articles is that they were simplistic and for complex topics where unsuitable.

    This prompted me to use the “Advanced search” option on Google to “Reading level >Advanced” because that would likely promote the Harvard and other content higher that eHow for the search mentioned (level 4 brain cancer).

    Nope. Top two results were still eHow.

    • Guest

      That is seriously a problem.

    • Chris Crum

      That’s interesting too.

  • New reader

    why investors really have to question the stability of this business model:

    http://www.ehow.com/how_7912261_put-new-brakes-craftsman-mower.html

    http://www.ehow.com/how_7901077_remove-injectors-cat-3406b.html

    http://www.ehow.com/how_7900086_replace-control-2007-toyota-prius.html

    Dangerous. Wrong. And got published which means it got through the Demand gatekeeping CEs

    THIS is just a handful of literally the hundreds that this ONE writer who simply gamed the DS system got past multiple CEs in the “gatekeeping”

    Do you really think ONLY one writer is gaming the system? NO. However at the same time the individual is not a writer, just someone making a quick buck. But how many more are there in the DMS model. How many more CEs are there also “gaming” the system.

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