Helium Raises $10 Million After Being Victimized by Google Panda Update

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Helium is showing that life can go on for victims of Google's Panda update. Helium is a user-generated content site, often compared to other known Panda victims like Demand Media, HubPages, Suite101, Associated Content, etc.

Of course, Demand Media (now a publicly traded company) posted better-than expected earnings, but Helium has managed to secure a new $10 million in financing. It would appear that a commitment to improved quality, an increased focus on local, and/or dialogue with Google has been enough to convince somebody that Helium is here to stay. VatorNews points to an SEC form that indicates as much.

"Helium has engaged in an on-going dialogue with Google for the last three years or more. Google understands the Helium business and content model and agrees that the Helium site publishes quality content," Helium VP Architecture and Technology Tracy Flynn recently said.

The main way writers earn money from Helium comes from views, which are largely driven by search. Clearly, the site's performance in Google results plays a key role here. However, there are other ways writers can make money from Helium. These include payments from Helium when third-parties purchase articles for use elsewhere, and one-time incentive payments through various programs run by the site, such as contests, up-front payments, customer sponsorships, etc.

Of course, like many other big victims of the Panda update, they're doing numerous things to adjust their content strategy, to comply more with what Google is seeking out in terms of higher quality (and less shallow) content. Among other things, Helium is asking writers to submit their articles to Helium only, to avoid duplicate content issues, and to use social media to promote articles (which in turn, Google can see and apply it in its own rankings).

Over the months, Helium has been providing writers with various tips and guidelines on its blog. For example, a recent post entitled, "Why your article or blog posts just aren't making the cut" lists:

1. You didn't cite your resources
2. You didn't proofread or use spell-check on your article
3. You don't format the article to your advantage
4. You don't include simple SEO techniques
5. You neglect to add it to your social networking realms like Twitter, Facebook and even your own blog.
6. You posted it in more place[s] than one.

Helium also pointed to some do's and don'ts for writer bios, which is probably a good idea, as bios can be indicative of authority on a given subject. Keep in mind that one of the top questions Google is asking itself as it tweaks its algorithm is, "Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?"

Helium has also made adjustments to its assignment system. "A highlight of the new system is the ability to tailor assignments by writing skills and expertise, as well as allowing all writers to pick up general assignments," the company explains. "As we learn more about your strengths, we can provide more opportunities that are targeted for your favorite subjects and writing style."

In April, Helium encouraged writers to get more involved with local-based writing, as the company has filled positions for local writers for city guide websites, a national real estate web site, a regional newspaper, and a neighborhood profiler for a "major daily newspaper" in LA. "Helium Content Source staffers are constantly on the lookout for writers for these types of assignments," the company said.

Google has been placing a great deal more emphasis on local these days, no question. Local results seem to have even been helped by the Panda update.

Last week, Helium launched a new mobile version of its assignment system for Android and iPhone.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.