Article Updated: See the end.
As reported last month, Demand Media is now extending its content creation services to brands, publishers and agencies, essentially selling the content it has been using to get search traffic, monetizing it thorough brand partnership-based content marketing since taking a beating from Google's algorithm.
If you're not familiar with Demand Media's history with Google, the tl;dr version is: DM created tons of content based on things people search for in order to get traffic on those searches. Often, this content was of questionable quality. Google eventually changed its algorithm (the Panda update) in a way that made it so this type of content didn't rank so well, and ultimately impacted DM's revenue. DM has made numerous changes to its content, design and strategy since, and has at times appeared to have recovered, but in recent months, the company's Google fortune has not been great, and as others have tried to do, they are seeking business that is not so reliant on the search behemoth.
So as part of its business, it now sells content for others to host on their sites. DigiDay is pointing to some specific examples of what exactly they're offering. Here's an article on Samsung.com about "Organizing Ideas for Small Homes".
For Michelob Ultra:
Pretty standard DM-style content.
It just so happens that Google is now going after guest blogging (controversially I might add). We have to wonder if Google will target stuff like this. I'm not sure this stuff is doing all that well in search anyway (I don't see Michelob Ultra ranking anywhere for "anti-aging foods," for example)., but it would be surprising if Google didn't at least have its eye on it.
Google is also working on algorithm changes that reward authorities on topics, so Michelob Ultra probably doesn't stand to gain a lot on authority on health foods.
It doesn't look like the Demand Media stories are including any links in the author bios. Google's attack on guest blogging has some reputable sites afraid to keep such links natural (meaning without nofollow added) or at all.
These types of articles could potentially do well in social media, though Facebook has not been kind to brands with its own algorithm changes, and is steadily decreasing the organic reach of Page posts, so it's hard to say how much value brands are really getting out of this content. Of course there are other ways to generate traffic besides Google and Facebook.
Either way, Demand Media seems to be helping overcome its reputation for low-quality content. DigiDay spoke with VP of Marketing Kristen Moore, who basically said brands have been skeptical about the content, but the company has been showing them the newer content compared to the old, and convincing them. They "get past it," she says.
It sounds like Demand Media is also managing to get some mileage out of its existing content, rather than having to have it all created from scratch for these brands. According to the report, Moore cited Demand's "loads of evergeen content and SEO expertise" as an advantage it has over other content providers.
Hmm. SEO expertise. Perhaps Google is still being targeted after all. Or maybe it's a Bing strategy.
Update: We reached out to Moore for further comment. "We aren’t in a position to comment on Google’s or any other company’s business practices. We focus on creating the best experience for consumers on our sites and providing the best content for brands to meet their content marketing needs," she tells us.
"Each of those brands come to us with very different goals and with different marketing plans on how they use their content," she adds. "In the DigiDay article I was cited as saying SEO expertise was an advantage – what I really said was that we help brands by offering consultation on their distribution and discovery strategies."
Currently, she says, they only have a "handful of brands" they're working with, as it's a pretty new offering.