Content farms scored a win in the battle against Google's anti-spam search algorithms today as Demand Media, the company behind eHow, Cracked, and Livestrong, announced a quarterly revenue of $79.5 million—up 48% from the same quarter last year. Demand also reported a 32% increase in page views on owned and operated websites, but this doesn't mean that the company can rest easy quite yet.
After Google made its first anti-spam search algorithm change in February, eHow (Demand's biggest site) actually saw a jump in page views. But Google wasn't done weeding out the content farms; in April, the search engine tweaked its algorithm again, and eHow suffered. Compared to levels before the first February algorithm change, eHow saw a net decline in search engine referrals of approximately 20%—all attributable to Google's tweaks, explained Richard Rosenblatt, Chairman and CEO of Demand Media, on a conference call this week. Overall, though, page views for eHow dropped just 12% because the site "has other sources" of growing traffic—sites whose primary function does not involve gaming Google results. If anything, Google may cause Demand to shift more of its priorities to those higher quality holdings.
"This was a real impact to our business, and we take it very seriously," Rosenblatt said. So seriously, in fact, that Demand is trying to improve its content so that it can win on Google once again.
These improvements include running all new content through an editorial process, taking down eHow stories that doesn't meet certain standards, and putting up more feature content across Demand's sites. Feature stories are written by experienced journalists, and "incorporate original reporting, exclusive quotes, side bars, and have word counts north of 850 words," according to Demand's investor press release. This doesn't mean that Demand is necessarily getting in the business of breaking news, however. Sample feature stories include a piece about 2011 wedding season trends and a look at the heirloom produce craze.
Google's algorithm changes may not have killed Demand Media, but they did spur the company to at least try to improve its content. For everyone who spends time weeding through eHow articles on Google, this is a good thing. And in the end, it might save Demand.
[Image: Flickr user delphic]