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What happened to Demand Media's traffic? Glitch? Google?

By Frank Ahrens

Demand Media is a company that pays freelancers to create Web content, such as text or video, based on what's hot on the Internet and what is likeliest to be attractive to advertisers. The company runs Web sites such as eHow.com, Livestrong.com and Cracked.com, an extension of the satire magazine.

The privately held company founded in 2006 has been successful, with rising revenue and narrowing losses. The company filed an IPO last week, figuring it was time to go public. One analyst predicted it would be a $1 billion IPO, though today's value is more like $125 million.

That's when things got interesting.

According to Quantcast, which tracks online traffic, visits to Demand Media's sites fell off a cliff a few days before the IPO filing and have stayed there, which you can see by clicking here.

The Internet being the Internet (event + instant speculation - actual facts = surefire traffic generator!), several theories popped up to try to explain the big fall-off.

The first blames Google, saying the search giant somehow tweaked its algorithm to hurt Demand Media, which acknowledged the superior position of its rival in its IPO filing, writing:

"Google's access to more comprehensive data regarding user search queries through its search algorithms would give it a significant competitive advantage over everyone in the industry, including us. If this data is used competitively by Google, sold to online publishers or given away for free, our business may face increased competition from companies, including Google, with substantially greater resources, brand recognition and established market presence."

Demand Media cannot comment because it is in an SEC-required "quiet period." Google has not commented.

The conspiracy theory was advanced here . At Slate, Jim Ledbetter suggested that Demand Media may no longer want its traffic measured by Quantcast.

The traffic fall-off could be attributed to something as non-nefarious as a mechanical glitch. According to this blog, a Quantcast spokeswoman said that Demand Media's "measurement tag had fallen off," which sort of sounds like a dog running around without a collar.


By Frank Ahrens  |  August 11, 2010; 5:25 PM ET
Categories:  Google  
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Comments

One type of link is Advertisers Link. say only ads that site carries & all listed on one page, like magazineprint ad directory.

sometimes ad just disappears before realize & still like to click It.

vondrashek

Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | August 12, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Any SEO expert will tell you that Demand's traffic is dubious. In the Google world (See google pagerank), where links to your content determine how credible your content is, any link to your content is counted as a vote for your content's relevance to a particular topic. The more diverse your link sources, the more highly Google's algorithms will rank you (generally). Now enter Demand, which owns enom, with thousands upon thousands of parked domains (those web pages you see sometimes with links on them) on one side, and on the other, their content businesses Ehow, Livestrong etc. What would you do if you were an SEO working for Demand with those resources at your disposal, and you were trying to drive google traffic to the content side of the business?

The key question is - will Google 'do no evil' and sacrifice some of the CPC revenues they are getting from Demand to do right by its users?
Or will they turn a blind eye to this rampant gaming of their system? If they continue to condone Demand's behavior online, we are going to be seeing a new wave of junk content on the web, the kind that Demand puts out day after day to flood the web.

Posted by: RSK1 | August 13, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Check this out about Demand's nefarious SEO practices - http://blog.seo-hardcore.com/seo-book/demand-medias-ehow-com-using-interesting-expired-domain-redirect-seo-strategy

Posted by: RSK1 | August 13, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

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