Demand Responds to Google Content Purge

Published on February 25, 2011
by Kara Swisher

Here’s a blog post that Demand Media put up in response to Google’s announcement last night that it would prune low-quality content from its search results.

In a blog post titled “Finding More High-Quality Sites,” Google said:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality site–sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

Some think Google was aiming at Demand, whose top exec recently said the content company welcomed any improvements to the search results in its recent quarterly call.

“We consider ourself very white hat,” declared CEO Richard Rosenblatt, to a question from a Wall Street analyst about the series of recent declarations by Google to clean up its search results.

Demand went further in a blog posted last night, which is here in its entirety:

A Statement About Search Engine Algorithm Changes

How our content reaches the consumer–whether it’s through direct visits, social media referrals, apps or search–has always been important to and monitored closely by us. We also recognize that major search engines like Google have and will continue to make frequent changes. We have built our business by focusing on creating the useful and original content that meets the specific needs of today’s consumer. So naturally we applaud changes search engines make to improve the consumer experience–it’s both the right thing to do and our focus as well.

Today, Google announced an algorithm change to nearly 12% of their U.S. query results. As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results.This is consistent with what Google discussed on their blog post. It’s impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term–but at this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business.

Coming out of the IPO quiet period this week, we knew the topic of Google’s search engine changes was top of mind for many people–so we discussed it on the earnings call, in a couple of follow up interviews and are now issuing this statement. However, we generally don’t comment or speculate on changes by major search engines. They make changes nearly daily in a quest to give consumers the best possible experience, as do we.

Finally, in our Q4 earnings call on Tuesday we talked at length about the nature of our content and the consumer experiences we are delivering. Beyond our success helping consumers discovering our content via search, we also shared metrics around direct visits, repeat visits and social visits. We believe these metrics are leading indicators that our properties are developing into recognizable consumer brands that are delivering real value to an increasingly loyal community.

We believe these kinds of indicators are a result of our firm commitment to the interests of consumers, and that is where we continue to focus our efforts.

Larry Fitzgibbon is Demand Media’s EVP of Media and Operations, and manages the company’s rapidly growing network of consumer properties.

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