Last night Google tweaked its search algorithm to punish Demand Media and other so-called “content fams.”Journalists and bloggers are thrilled. Forbes reporter Jeff Bercovici, for example, recently wrote a post trashing Demand the day it IPO’d. He rattled off a bunch of eHow questions he thought proved how “dumb” Demand Media is.
Here’s some of the questions he found objectionable and our comment in parenthesis:
- “How To Dress Like A Hipster” (As embarrassing as it might be to Bercovici, some people might actually want to know this.)
- “How To Name A Kid’s Soccer Team” (Goofy question? Sure. But maybe some people are starved for ideas and are hoping the Internet will help out.)
- “Ideas For organising Scrunchies” (We haven’t hit this problem, but presumably someone has.)
What’s wrong with these questions? What’s wrong with Demand paying people to write answers to them?
Are any of the above questions we would ask? Probably not. But, the fact of the matter is SOMEONE is asking those questions, and Demand is answering them. Just because they don’t apply to Bercovici, doesn’t mean they don’t apply to other people.
Demand Media operates in the closest thing we have to a market of perfect competition. If users don’t like eHow then they’ll click on something else.
Further, if people aren’t looking for answers to those questions, Demand Media’s business collapses.
If Google goes too far trying to stamp out Demand results to appease the grousing digerati, it could actually hurt its own business. After all, Demand is pretty useful.
Sometimes you just want to know in clear terms how to get a wine stain out of your shirt. And who does that better than eHow?