Demand Media (NYSE: DMD) is launching three initiatives to change the mix of content it showcases on its sites: The so-called content farm, which has been under pressure to improve the quality of content on its sites, says it will take down some articles that were created under a program that allowed anybody to post any article they wanted to on its flagship eHow site; it’s also adding new ways for readers to suggest improvements to content it produces and is increasing the volume of feature-type stories that run on all of its sites.
The moves come as traffic to some of Demand Media’s sites from Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has dropped because of changes the search engine has made to its algorithm in order to penalize sites with low-quality content.
The company’s executives, however, tell us the initiatives are “evolutionary.” EVP Larry Fitzgibbon says: “It’s our own desire to create great consumer experiences. Every week, there is a new company developing a new approach. If you want to be a leading company on the web you need to constantly evolve.”
– Fewer user-submitted articles: For four years, any eHow user could post an article on any topic they wanted and earn money from the traffic the content generated. Fitzgibbon says that while that program was shut down in April 2010, the articles produced under it have remained online. Demand Media will now put all of that content through a “strict editorial process” and remove any of it that doesn’t meet the company’s current editorial standards.
– More user feedback: Earlier this year, Demand Media launched a program under which visitors could provide basic feedback on whether articles were helpful or not. That will now be expanded, so that readers can make specific suggestions, which the company will then be able to incorporate.
– More feature stories: SVP Jeremy Reed says Demand Media will produce more feature-type content that will “entertain and inform people when they show up on our sites.” Reed says the company is seeing the most growth from people who head to its sites directly and that feature stories — which the company describes as 850-word plus articles that incorporate “original reporting, exclusive quotes, side bars” — will serve that audience well. “When they come to our front door, they are there to be inspired. This is a perfect compliment to what we do.”