Expertscolumn and Squidoo Grow While Other Writing Sites Shrink

Mon, Jan 23, 2012, by marqjonz

Search Engines

Let’s look at the numbers for last year. A few are black, but most are very, very red.

Why the Big Drop in U.S. Readership?
Many writing sites that post user-contributed content saw the number of unique views drop last year. Associated Content, Helium and Triond all experienced serious drops in U.S. readership.  Most writers for these sites blame the new Google Panda algorithm.  On the other hand, ExpertsColumn’s U.S. readership grew, and Squidoo bounced back from Panda.  Google’s algorithm change does not offer a complete explanation of the change in the market.

Most websites featuring user-generated content lost readership:

Readership of Sites Featuring User-Generated Content, U.S. Data from Compete.com*

UV’s = Unique Visitors, K = Thousands, M = Millions, Range = number for month with most UV’s – number for month with least UV’s

Table 1.  Websites exerting less editorial control.

Notes on Tables:

* Data from Compete.com.  Many advertisers regard U.S. data as the “gold standard” of web metrics.

**Yahoo announced the replacement of  Associated Content with Yahoo!Voices (voices.yahoo.com) in December 2011.  Yahoo!Voices had 3.79M unique U.S. visitors in December 2011.

*** The writing on Wikipedia is the subject of a recent satirical anthology, “[Citation Needed]: The best of Wikipedia’s Worst Writing” by Josh Fruhlinger and Conor Lastowka, and this book is very funny.

Commentary

  • The two sites on the list that repost articles, ExpertsColumn and HuffingtonPost, had the largest growth.  It’s wrong to generalize from two examples, but reposting may be worth investigating.  In fact, reposting good writing may not be a bad idea at all.
  • About.com, the website with the most stringent requirements for credentialing writers, was almost flat for the year.
  • In terms of the absolute numbers of unique visitors, Associated Content was the biggest loser last year.  Even adding the Yahoo!Voices’ December number of unique visitors to Associated Content’s December numbers (999K + 3.79M = 4.79M), the Yahoo! sites lost 8.6 million unique visitors. The drop in unique U.S. viewers is 64.3 percent, which exceeds the percentage drop of every other loser on the list except Suite101.
  • The range of the data for every site except ExpertsColumn is larger than the December to December change.  Readership numbers at most sites take huge bounces during the year.
  • Readership of Google News has been flat since the introduction of the Panda algorithm. Too bad algorithms don’t understand irony.

Could Bad Press about Bad Writing be the Cause of the Drop?

In 2009 and 2010, Google, Inc. was publicly embarrassed by posts criticizing it for putting poorly written articles from Associated Content at the top of Google News searches.   For example, Farhad Manjoo described  Associated Content as “a wasteland of bad writing” and lamented that the site published articles “bulging with hot search terms” so that “it gets more visitors than just about every news site online….”  Scott Rosenberg  wrote the critical posts “Google News gets gamed by a crappy content farm” in Salon and “SEO mills: That’s not fast food it’s bot fodder” in Wordyard.

This bad press certainly contributed to Google’s motivation to devise the Panda algorithm that pummeled user-generated content sites.  Beyond the effects of the Panda algorithm, the bad press and the experience of reading terrible articles may have made U.S. readers, particularly those who use the Internet as a news source, stay away from Google News and move to reposting sites that screen content, like Huffington Post.

Recommendations for Triond writers:

  • Consider reposting articles on ExpertsColumn.
  • Check out Squidoo. Some writers have reported bad experiences with Squidoo, but the site deserves investigation, if only because it appears to have done something right.

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17 Comments For This Post
  1. somiasom Says:

    Good share.. Thanks . i liked it

  2. marqjonz Says:

    Thanks, Somiasom.

    By the way, I’m aware that this article has problems with methodology. I appreciates any suggestions for improving this article that doesn’t include adding more tables.

  3. DiabolicalClaptrap Says:

    I repost some of my articles on experts column. While they don’t do as good as they do on here, it’s still a little extra cash. But the real kicker here is its page rank. According to google, it sits at 3/10, while Triond sits at 5/10. Hmm..

  4. marqjonz Says:

    Ryan F, I see your point about page rank.

    One additional fact that’s come my way since I wrote the article. According to Alexa, about 4% of Triond’s global traffic comes from search engines (why bother with SEO?), but 20% of the traffic going to Squidoo and ExpertsColumn comes from search engines.

  5. rubysexy Says:

    I love this share. Thanks.

  6. Margaret Boseroy Says:

    Hmmmm…reposting. Definitely something to think about.

  7. dwisuka Says:

    useful research. thanks for sharing this

  8. Kristie Claar Says:

    Well shared information.

  9. Mr Arrogant Says:

    ‘awesome share.. nice to read ur article.. hope to read more interesting stuffs from you in the future too…. n hope you do check my articles too..until then see ya
    regards….
    Mr arrogant

  10. Erin Miller Says:

    I use experts column. I could not stand squidoo.

  11. Stable Says:

    Great info and really interesting/useful, thanks.

  12. Ixodoi Says:

    It makes you wounder if we are in the right site…

  13. SharifaMcFarlane Says:

    Expertscolumn and Squidoo are doing something right(write lol)

  14. dwisuka Says:

    again here.. I found many Triond’s writer in expertscolumn.

  15. dodolbete Says:

    Indeed. I’m also a member of experscolumn and Squidoo. But I’ve posted a lot of songs in Triond, I wasn’t so sure if it is safe enough to re-post it on expertcolumn, while I haven’t done anything worth to proud or worry about on Squidoo for years… Indeed these data is very interesting ^_^

  16. shelpeare Says:

    I wrote an article on expertscolumn’s growth that throws light on this at http://expertscolumn.com/content/phenomenal-growth-expertscolumn-interesting-trivia. Unfortunately the site seems to be down at the moment. The thing is that although Triond has a higher ranking than Expertscolumn our articles are not on Triond. They are on Triond’s sites like Webupon, Writinghood etc which do not have as high a rank as Expertscolumn although they are older than Expertscolumn. Only about two of Triond’s sites rank higher than Expertscolumn while the other twenty sites can’t compete (no pun intended) with Expertscolumn.
    Also, so far I have noticed that views on Expertscolumn are usually more than the number of articles you have written and that is without promotion of any kind. So if you have 300 articles you should be able to expect at least 300 views everyday. But then again I am still new on the site with only 30-something articles so it is possible that the figures can change. I am just observing that the views there seem to spread out through your whole writing portfolio rather than a few star articles pulling all the views and the others not getting read as happens with Triond.

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