Posted April 18, 2011 10:54 am by with 2 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

If you ever read any corporately generated content from content farm poster child, Demand Media, it won’t take long before you see the word disruptive. Here is the first sentence from

Demand Media is a disruptive online media company. We’re doing things differently. And while we respect media’s heritage deeply, we respect its evolutionary potential even more.

Well, it looks like Demand’s world is being disrupted as well from the recent Google Panda update. In a post from this past weekend, Larry Fitzgibbon, Demand’s EVP of Media and Operations, was more or less forced to respond to some third party ‘data’ (from the company Sistrix who is making a name for its relatively unknown self by producing these Demand Media ‘insights’) that claimed that the recent Panda update in its many iterations really hurt the content farm machine and was rather disruptive to Demand’s bread and butter which is Google traffic.

As I said in my prior post, we generally do not comment or speculate on changes by major search engines, as these changes can happen nearly daily. However, recent third-party reports attempting to estimate the impact to our search driven traffic, including one projecting a 2/3rds decline in traffic, are so significantly overstated that we decided to comment.

It’s so annoying when your day is disrupted by bad content, isn’t it? It’s so disruptive that you have to comment. Many might say that Demand is getting a taste of its own medicine since there are often complaints about the accuracy of Demand’s content that can clutter up search results on a day-to-day basis.

SEOmozMarketing Pilgrim’s SEO Channel is sponsored by SEOmoz, the leading provider of SEO tools and resources. Take a 30-day free trial, and see why over 10,000 marketers currently use SEOmoz PRO

So to be fair, let’s let Mr. Fitzgibbon elaborate on how this whole thing is impacting the company. Of course, Demand is now being held to a higher standard of sorts as a public company that people have invested in based on the presumption that Demand can weather this kind of storm without it impacting the bottom line. It’s a bit different than being the private company that didn’t have to say anything about anything to anyone of they did not want to.

As a disruptive digital media and technology company, we have been operating in a fast moving environment since the company’s founding five years ago. While change is frequent, one thing is certain – Demand Media is steadfast in our commitment to produce great outcomes for our consumers, advertisers and community of creative professionals. We’re in the trenches listening, learning, adapting and innovating – and we are very excited about the opportunity in front of us. We look forward to providing details on all of these topics and more in our previously announced conference call at 5:00pm (Eastern) May 5th, 2011 to discuss first quarter 2011 financial results.

Good to see the Mr. Fitzgibbon is toting the company’s disruptive line so vigorously. As noted by ZDNet as well it’s going to take several quarters to see just how damaging the Panda update will be to Demand’s business.

Honestly, it is tiring having to give Demand Media and other noted (some would say notorious) content farms any attention at all. In the end though the story line for this company is one that SEO’s in particular have to be very cognizant of. Everyone is trying to figure out (as they always have in the past as well) what the latest and greatest tolerances are for the Grand Poobah of Algorithms. One of the ways of doing that is see companies like Demand Media shift in the winds that Google creates.

In the end, many say it’s just a matter of writing the best content at all times. While in theory that sounds beautiful and utopian the reality of the SERPs often tells a grittier and more realistic view which is that oftentimes content that is rank still ranks well.

So we’ll continue to watch just how Demand fights off disruptive algorithm changes in its quest to continue to disrupt the media world with its quantity over quality approach to content. How it will turn out isn’t really the concern because the search reality of today often becomes the search history of tomorrow as quickly as you can say disruptive.

  • Someone first needs to prove that Demand Media was actually hurt by the Panda II algorithm.

  • @Michael – Hence the supposed ‘data’ comment. All of this stuff is hard to measure from a third party perspective and DM isn’t going to be too quick with saying that their traffic has crapped out.

    The world of Internet research is usually just arms length away from “PR stunt” v. a real chance to see real data.