Yahoo is cleaning up Associated Content by deleting some of the articles, moving the keepers to Yahoo’s domain and giving the site a new name, too. And next year, Yahoo will begin an online training course to help its writers create higher quality content.
The company has announced plans to “retire” more than 75,000 Associated Content articles, keep only “the best content submitted over the last seven years,” and move it all to a new site, Yahoo! Voices (www.voices.yahoo.com). In the process, Yahoo has also introduced new submission guidelines for its army of writers.
Associated Content Hit By Panda
Yahoo bought Associated Content in May 2010, a site that — at the time — was creating about 10,000 new pieces of content per week. That was, of course, before Google’s “Panda” algorithm update targeted content farms in early 2011.
Speaking at our SMX West conference just a couple of weeks after Panda, Yahoo VP Luke Beatty (who founded Associated Content) said that two-thirds of Associated Content’s articles had suffered sizable declines in Google traffic, while the other one-third was getting more Google traffic.
Yahoo Voices: Post-Panda
We haven’t asked Yahoo if today’s announcement is a direct reaction to the Panda update, and it’s unlikely they’d admit to it, but you don’t have to read too deep between the lines to see how it is.
For starters, Yahoo is retiring a domain (associatedcontent.com) that was hit hard by Google’s update and moving the content to yahoo.com, a more trusted domain. It’s ditching the entire Associated Content name and calling the new site Yahoo! Voices.
Yahoo has also eliminated some Associated Content, as explained in today’s announcement:
We have retired more than 75,000 pieces of inactive and outdated content from Associated Content. None of this content will appear on Yahoo! Voices, and only content that meets our revised Submission Guidelines will be accepted moving forward. Older content that does not meet these standards will be gradually retired or returned to the original author for editing.
To be fair, those 75,000 articles are a small drop in Yahoo’s bucket. Earlier in the announcement, Yahoo says that Voices will have “more than two million pieces of original content.” So, depending on the exact numbers, Yahoo is zapping only about 4% of Associated Content’s material. Still, removing low-quality and under-performing content has consistently been one of the most common SEO recommendations for Panda-hit sites.
Even the new guidelines appear to go out of the way to teach SEO basics to Yahoo’s writers. Here’s a sample:
- Don’t rehash. You must provide a fresh and unique angle on every story.
- Don’t stuff your content with keywords. We encourage you to optimize your content for search-engine discovery, but not at the expense of readability.
- Don’t over-link. We encourage relevant links that make your content more valuable and informative. Avoid excessive hyperlinking that compromises readability.
I’m unable to find out how the new guidelines compare to the old. The previous Yahoo Contributor Network guidelines page (contributor.yahoo.com/community/guidelines) is gone and the URL redirects to the new page. It also doesn’t seem to be available via any cache searches.
Yahoo’s focus on quality is also evident in one other way: Early next year, Yahoo will launch Yahoo! Contributor Academy, an “interactive learning program” with lessons and tools to help its writers create “useful, engaging online content.”