Earlier this year, we had a conversation with John Citrone, editor of the online writing community Xomba.com, which fell victim to Google’s Panda update. He gave us a preview of a redesign of the site, which had been in the works for some time prior to the update, as he told us the company saw the update coming and started preparing for it last summer.
“Around the first of the year, we began creating a new site design with new community networking features for people who want to express themselves in more than 140 characters,” he told us. “Our new design will reduce or eliminate our dependence on Google to bring us traffic through its search results; our focus is to build a community of people who want to network with each other and share their experiences and their passions.”
Today, Citrone tells WebProNews, ” Well, it’s official — we’ve relaunched with a new model and vision.” The company’s announcement comes with the title, “Xomba.com Dances on the Bones of Content Farms with New Site, New Direction, New Philosophy.” Here’s that:
The days of writing on content farms for fat payouts are over, and sites that continue to operate on that model are collapsing with a resounding “WTF?”
Long before Google decided to single-handedly wipe out content farms with the innocently named Panda update, Xomba was in the process of building a new site where users can share ideas, without fear of the corporate monolith search engine ruining the party. “Last summer,” says CEO Nick Veneris, “we began stripping low-quality content from Xomba while restructuring the site — from design to philosophy to purpose — to put the user, rather than the content, at the center of attention. This was nearly a year before anyone had even heard of Panda.”
“Too many sites, including the old Xomba, relied on substandard content to bring in revenue,” says Veneris. “We believe that method is dead, and we are ushering a new age of writing online. Xomba is, in a word, a social networking site for people who like to write — a place where people can share ideas in more than 140 characters, make friends and have a good time.”
With the new design, Xomba has introduced a follow system, easy-to-use writing templates, Author rankings and an educational component (called Xomba University) to help along inexperienced writers. Since relaunch, Xomba has seen an uptick of between two and three times the Article submissions, most of which are coming new users. And Xomba is already prepared to move — literally — to the next level, even considering investment capital to get them there. The redesign is just scratching the surface, as Xomba plans to introduce niche sites (sites focusing on a single topic) as part of the new Xomba publishing network.
It remains to be seen whether the changes will boost Google’s perception of content quality from Xomba, but the search engine has certainly been placing more emphasis on authors too. Last week, the company announced the rel=”author” authorship markup.
Google says it is experimenting with using data from this to help people find content from authors in search results, and will continue to look at ways it could help the search engine highlight authors and rank search results.