By all accounts, a site like eHow.com really shouldn’t work. It shouldn’t have any kind of success on Google, especially not in the post-Penguin age. But as any reputation management or SEO professional knows, the site does work. In fact, eHow gets nothing if not crazy good rankings.
So what is it’s secret? By looking closely at the case of eHow, we can observe some important truths about what does, doesn’t, and really shouldn’t work in the realm of SEO—and, we can infer some useful reputation management tips of our own!
Why eHow Shouldn’t Work
The reason eHow’s success is so surprising is simply that the site is, by most anyone’s definition, a content farm. A content farm is defined by Wikipedia as a “company that employs large numbers of often freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content,” with the intention of satisfying SEO or algorithmic requirements.
In other words, the content farm approach is more about rankings than actual quality content. As any reputation management professional knows, content is really what Google is rewarding, in the post-Penguin era. So again, the question almost asks itself: How does eHow manage to elevate the “content farm” approach in a way that doesn’t draw Penguin penalties?
Filling a Void
One answer is that eHow actually fills a void—providing information that’s relevant and helpful to users.
Most of us know that eHow is, essentially, designed to be an online how-to manual, put together by freelancers and covering a variety of topics. The how-to manual approach is crucial to its success. Statistics show that “how to” search queries have risen dramatically in recent years. “Reviews” and “news” searches, meanwhile, have remained pretty flat.
Google wants content that is relevant to user queries—and eHow fills that role by providing straightforward answers to “how to” queries. That’s a strong content lesson for any reputation management professional.
Here’s another way in which eHow.com sets a smart example for reputation management pros to follow: It provides truly diverse, creative content.
That might sound a bit surprising given that, well, everything the company produces is a how-to article. With that said, consider the fact that its articles are mixed with how-to videos, meaning that the site leverages the power of its YouTube channel to provide truly versatile and unique content to readers.
This is another great example of how the site overcomes the content quality hurdle to rank well on Google, even post-Penguin. Yes, it’s true that any SEO or reputation management campaign is going to need lots of written content. However, eHow’s diversity shows that the site is, on some level, interested in providing compelling and helpful content to readers.
What it’s All About
Providing compelling and helpful content to readers is what it’s all about, of course. eHow does it well—showing us how to play within Google’s new rules, and how even a “content farm” setup doesn’t necessarily have to result in low-quality content. These are all solid SEO lessons that any reputation management pro would do well to emulate!