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Demand Media: We’re “Very White Hat”

Rosenblatt Talks Google and Content Quality

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Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt, speaking on an earnings call today, took to defending his company’s content, which is often subject to a great deal of criticism, though I would contend that much of the criticism is really geared toward Google for surfacing some of the more questionable (in quality) content over other results that would appear more authoritative. 

In reality, most of DM’s critics are often quick to acknowledge that they do produce some quality content, and I don’t think anyone has a problem with Google ranking that stuff well, when it makes sense. 

Ok, maybe some have a problem with it. Alternative search engines Blekko and DuckDuckGo went so far as to remove all of the content from Demand sites like eHow and AnswerBag from their indexes entirely. 

It is Google, however, that has been talking about focusing on content farms from the algorithmic standpoint, having even released a Chrome extension recently, which allows users to remove results from certain domains from their own search experiences – a move that actually sends Google signals that it could then potentially use in its ranking algorithm for all users. 

Chrome Blocklist Extension

Rosenblatt’s not worried about it though. At least that’s the position he’s taking. He told reporters that Demand Media is "very careful" about following Google’s guidelines, and that the company considers itself "very white hat".

Of course, Google’s "guidelines" can always change, and to reiterate, the company has explicitly said that its focus is turning to content farms, and Demand Media is the first company that everybody thinks of when the phrase "content farm" is used. 

Demand’s properties, of course, come with heavy use of Google AdSense, and  as many have pointed out in the past, Google would stand to lose some revenue itself, should content farms that take advantage of the ad platform be whisked away from prominent search placement.

Rosenblatt indicated that the company is looking toward expanding its own brand advertiser base, though, which would make it somewhat less reliant on Google (though getting those high rankings would still seem pretty key). "The company is well positioned to capture an increasing share of brand revenue," he said. Current advertisers include American Express, Home Depot, L’Oreal, Dole and Samsung.

As far as Demand’s quality goes, Rosenblatt said they won’t be able to catch everything, but they "promise to get better", and that they have a more rigorous editorial process than many mainstream media outlets. He also indicated that the company is working on some kind of "curation layer" that would let users make suggestions for the improvement of articles. Hat tip to Joseph Tartakoff at Paid Content.

More on the earnings here.

 

Demand Media: We’re “Very White Hat”
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  • Guest

    I have worked at many mainstream publications as a reporter and an editor. Recently, I have worked for Demand.

    I could write a book on how utterly unprofessional the standards at Demand are. The high school newspaper that I worked on at age 15 was 100 times superior.

    For starters, Demand hires editors sight and voice unseen, doesn’t check their background, and has no idea that the editors are who they say they are. Then, the editors are paid $3.50 per story while working from their basements and are given carte blanche to reject articles for whatever reason they feel like, mostly to fill a quota, although they are free-lancers paid a fraction of what the writers are paid, and the writers are paid next to nothing.

    I was a copy editor for years, supervised copy editors as the managing editor of a national publication. The editors, and staffers, are incompetent beyond belief. Again, I could write a book on their incompetence.

    The editors are also anonymous. They behave the way you would expect anonymous people to behave.

    And this guy from Demand insists that Demand has more rigorous standards than mainstream newspapears? IT HAS NO STANDARDS

    • Chris Crum

      Email me at cccrum@ientry.com if you’d like to share more of your story.

  • Guest

    I agree with the previous poster. I turned to eHow to supplement my income and I’ve found that the editors are clueless about certain subjects in finance, which is my niche. To debate them over a $17 story is ridiculous. The company is constantly changing the guidelines, so you never quite know if your submission meets any particular standard. Too many of the editors are down right rude; knowing they can get away with it. Your only recourse is a general complaint form. If you want to throw a piece together based on your own knowledge of a subject and make $20 for it, this is the site for you. If you want to produce your best work, dedicating the time for research needed, don’t use eHow. Your effort could be in vain if it ends up in the hands of a copy editor who’s no clue about the subject you’re writing on and asks ignorant questions. You could chase your tail for hours to “break your story down” for the ignorant copy editors and that’s a complete waste of time.

  • Bill

    I have to disagree with your opinion of Demand Studios. I wrote for them for several months to generate some cash and I was very impressed with the level I was expected to write to. I do a lot of technical writing and my interactions with the editors were mostly positive. I wrote mostly repair articles and occasionally found an editor asking for illogical edits, but for the most part I think they did their job well.

    It is unfair to say Demand has no standards when clearly they do. I don’t know how they hire editors but I do know that a lot of writers struggle to get in to Demand and you are expected to write good relevant content. And Demand paying for specific repair articles to fill the demand is doing the world a favor. It is very different from all the backlink junk that winds up on sites like Ezine or other article sites.

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