As we reported yesterday, Demand Media launched a new redesign for its eHow content property. Though Google's recent Panda algorithm update didn't really have any negative impact on eHow, we still wondered if any changes Google has made recently influenced any of the decisions made regarding the redesign. After all, Google did launch the ability for users to block domains from search results, and despite eHow's ongoing attempts to increase the reputation of its content quality, it's not hard to find complaints about it. That has to be a concern.
"The redesign process started last year and involved significant planning. As you can imagine, launching a new user interface and back-end architecture is no small project and took particular care given the size of eHow's audience," eHow GM Greg Boudewijn tells WebProNews. "The new design was born out of our desire to improve the overall consumer experience. Similar to companies like Google, we're focused on the quality of the consumer experience and have a responsibility to make the experience of millions of visitors both satisfying and memorable."
"So while the recent changes by Google didn't have any direct influence, we share their same consumer commitment and think of this new design as just another step in the evolution of our business in offering a great experience for consumers and advertisers alike," he adds.
Part of the overhaul is what Demand Media refers to as a "curation layer". Essentially, this is just a button that says "Helpful?" and appears on every piece of content, allowing users to provide positive or negative feedback. Demand Media says they will then use this feedback to improve the quality of individual pieces of content.
If a user deems the content not helpful, they are asked to choose a reason from the following options: too general/no useful information, information is out of date, information is inaccurate, article needs more photos, article is offensive, or wasn’t what I was looking for.
"Think of it as real-world measure to gauge the helpfulness of our content that complements the rigorous editorial process we already apply when creating the content," says Boudewijn. "We want to know what content resonates with visitors so that we can give them the best consumer experience time and time again. The feedback gathered through this feature will be used to edit content, shape our evolving editorial guidelines and help us identify our best content creators."
"We have an extensive process for qualifying the content published on eHow.com and feel the curation layer is the next step in ensuring that we're creating a great consumer experience," he continues. "It starts with hiring qualified professional writers, filmmakers and copy editors."
"We set clear editorial objectives and style guidelines for every piece of content and require reference sources with every submission," adds Boudewijn. "All content is copy-edited, fact checked and checked for plagiarism. We also regularly perform quality audits and take down content that doesn't meet our current standards."
Anything Demand Media does in the way of improving quality can only help its content in Google, and certainly in social media, which many content producers are hoping can help them relieve some of their dependence on search traffic.
Some of the biggest issues that people have with eHow content as ranked by Google, are the level of authority that comes attached to any given article. No matter how well written an article is, it's sometimes simply a matter of the source. Is a medical article written by a freelnace writer ranking over more authoritative information from a doctor or a medical journal, for example? This is not so much a Demand Media issue as it is a Google issue. If said article is from an authoritative voice on that medical topic, and it is written for eHow, then there's no reason why it shouldn't rank well.
Demand Media is doing a lot to match authoritative voices with topics going forward. Most recently, we've already seen partnerships with Tyra Banks in fashion, and Rachael Ray in food. Authority is more subjective when it comes to fashion and cooking than medical issues, but Demand Media will be making more and more partnerships, looking to bring more authority to more categories. We'll see how it goes.
Demand Media is the largest supplier of videos to YouTube. The eHow YouTube channel has received a makeover as well.