As many eHow residual income writers do, I wish eHow would simply explain whether they are paying writers for the UK clone versions of their articles. But they have not been forthcoming.
And the plot thickens.
One eHow member had recently mentioned on the eHow forum that his article, “How to Succeed in Gold Coin Investing,” was ranked #1 on Google for its title–as its UK cloned version. His original US article, the one he KNOWS he earns money for, was nowhere to be found. At least not on page one of Google results.
This tripped my suspicion trigger, because content about investing is generally understood to have high earnings potential from its ads, and I wondered if it was being deliberately manipulated. Here is an example from the Google AdWords Keyword Tool:
So I searched Google for the Gold Coin article. On December 31, I found that this article’s link from Yahoo Answers was in first place for the title search, and its UK clone version was second. When searched in quotes, the US original came up number three.
That’s a little unusual, especially when you consider the original had a good backlink. But I revisited the search yesterday, and that’s when I found something for which the word, “unusual” would be a euphemism. The UK clone was now #1 in Google. And its format had been edited, apparently by someone at eHow. Here is a screenshot of the original article:
And this was its new eHow UK cloned version yesterday. It has since been re-edited to match the US version in appearance:
Why This Matters
The “related articles” section (now “All Things Related”) titles had been changed. “Related Articles” titles on the same page with articles, contribute significantly to the articles’ SEO, or keyword density, because they are in H2 (Heading 2) tags, which indicate to search engines that they are an important part of the page that should be weighted more heavily than plain text.
So I checked both articles’ keyword density with the SEO Quake Toolbar for Firefox (it’s free). Bingo. The UK article clone now contained 23 instances of the phrase, “gold coins,” while its original contained only 15.
Not only that, but the fact that the page was edited at all makes it seem like fresh content to Google, giving it another boost. The original had been written on 12/20/09, and presumably had not been edited by the author since then. And the author certainly does not have control over editing his UK cloned version.
Here are two more anomalies from that UK version that was online yesterday:
1. There was a new section called, “Top Contributors” that listed several Demand Studios writers and employees. At least that’s how it appeared when I checked their profiles on the US site. And most of their articles were about investing and buying gold. So it’s conceivable to conclude that someone reading the UK version would click on a “Top Contributor” and read their high-earning (for eHow, anyway) articles, adding further to eHow’s bottom line.
And let me add here, I have nothing against eHow making money. It’s good for everyone. At least, everyone who is compensated fairly for contributing to that profit.
2. And this new section:
This section now has three tabs, where the US version has two, adding more related article titles, and affecting the article’s keyword density ration further.
My Conclusions: It is certainly difficult to draw any firm conclusions from this, which is why I wish eHow would be more forthcoming. But here are some possibilities:
- eHow is experimenting with SEO so that it can share even more earnings with the writers who make it all possible, and they thought experimenting with the UK clones was more practical. They forgot they would be freshening the UK content by doing so, thereby outranking the originals in search results. But they will ultimately have their accountants figure the difference in lost earnings, and compensate the writers fairly.
- A few eHow staff are trying to get in on the action by writing articles based on what they can see from their analytics will make the most money, then linking to their profiles from “regular” writers’ articles.
- Someone at eHow is manipulating the system to rank UK articles higher, since those earnings are apparently not shared with writers.
- I don’t know. Do you have any ideas? There must be a more reasonable explanation. Seriously.
It is understandable that Demand Media would experiment with their new site. But why would they do that with articles from residual income writers? Why not do it with some of the many Demand Media-owned articles?
And while we’re asking questions, why would an online business with so many technical glitches that writers can barely navigate the system some days, spend their time experimenting with SEO instead of fixing what’s broken first?
Why won’t they tell writers whether the articles those writers OWN THE COPYRIGHTS TO are fairly compensated in their “secrect” system? Is this ethical?
All the eHow writers want is answers. And they have a right to those answers. They need to know where they can place their trust and their efforts, and whether and how those efforts will be compensated. Direct, clear, honest answers.
So how about it, eHow?
Are you now, have you been, and will you in the future, pay writers for the profits you are earning from their UK cloned articles?
I, for one, would like to get on with more positive subjects. But we all need to hold companies accountable when they appear to abuse the public trust. Come on, eHow. Step up to the plate.
**Note: I saved the complete web pages from 1/1/2010 as files, and can provide them to anyone who wants to see them for themselves.
Why have these questions about clone UK articles, on eHow’s forum, gone unanswered, for the last several weeks? These threads are as clear as day on their forum…..
Are they blatantly ignoring their users? I certainly hope not….
Sadly, it seems they are ignoring their users. If you read this LA Times article, you can start to see some of the possible strategy behind the controversy. I believe Demand Media wants to get rid of its residual income writers, but they also need them to stick around on the forums and groups. If all the residual writers left the site completely, traffic would drop significantly.
So they seem to have found the ideal solution: make the publishing interface just glitchy enough to slow down the residual writers, while quickly filling the niche titles up with pre-paid Demand Studios articles. This keeps people talking in the forums and generating traffic, and also keeps them too busy to write as much. Pretty clever, if that’s the strategy. Then create a cloned site and start moving the article copies to that server. This slows down users who delete their articles, which eHow can technically keep and use for six months. Brilliant, really.
I have met ehow staff and ceo and have no indication that they would be that deceptive. I know there must be good reasons for the happenigns but wish that communication was better.
When people post on the forums they are wanting answers or something that is reassuring that their time and efforts are not being wasted. I know that waiting weeks for an answer is very frustrating (been there done that).
On the other hand I don’t jump and immediately suspect ehow of evildoings. Which is why I am waiting to address this on my blog. I tend to be fairly impulsive . 🙂
This post here is very well done and is at least attempting to make sense of a situation that is unclear to many. Well done article and I hope that ehow sees it. I like how you compared changes day to day. Awesome. I wish I knoew more about Google search.
Thank you, Alrady. Readers’ opinions based on fact and direct personal experience and reasonably stated, such as yours, are all welcome here. I appreciate you taking the time to offer your views.
Congrats on hitting #1 on Google for the search term “ehow uk” outranking ehow’s uk site itself.
Here are the facts as THE PREACHER see’s them. EHOW is one of the buggiest sites you will ever write on. The publisher wizard they use is constantly breaking down, eating up half you articles steps, or freezing your articles in limbo so you can’t get at them and no one can read them.
Communication sucks. Day in and day out writers are asking the same questions and getting no answers. And when eHOW does respond, it is usually a warning threatening action against you and your account. No PR skills what so ever.
But as others have already stated on here, the UK site, eHOWs secret brain child, has split the community of writers right in half and has everyone going at one another’s necks. Secret, yes, their secret UK site. They secretly mirrored all U.S. writers articles onto both sites, without any of the writers permission to do so. they then made money off those articles, thousands upon thousands of articles, and told no one. When someone stumbled upon their secret site, it all came to a head.
EHOW insisted their UK site had caused no one any harm, and for a long time, refused to answer any of the writers questions. Many writers took down their articles, many left the site. Others threatened to leave, and finally ehow agreed to remove all articles of U.S. writers from the UK site. In the meantime, many U.S. writers found their once thriving articles had stopped earning. That’s right, eHOW, by mirroring the usa site over to the UK site, had messed up the url’s, so many LOST A LOT of money during this time. Ehow then insisted all U.S. writers articles were no longer on the UK site, and that the profiles would be removed.
As it turned out, many articles were removed, but many more were not. Not only that, but all newly written articles here in the USA were still being cloned in the UK site. So where are we today? Well, the articles are finally removed, but ehOW still refuses to compensate U.S. writers for all the actually money they lost while their articles stopped earning. EHOW instead came up with what they called a generous compensation, not for money lost from all this, but for what they deemed the value of each writers articles were during the months the entire UK thing unfolded.
Say what? So many writers generous compensation came to under $10, many more recieved under $!. But how could that possibly be? We are talking about writers who had hundreds of articles and who lost hundreds of dollars? Easy to explain, the values of the U.S. writers articles were not worth spit during that time, because eHOW killed their article links when they mirrored the two sites together. They continue to refuse to compensate U.S. writers for all that lost income, even though eHOW profited from those articles. Remember, U.S. writers were paid nothing for their articles while they were on the UK site, but eHOW had ads on those articles and pocketed all the earnings.
The latest news is that outraged writers are demanding that their UK profiles, placed their from the U.S site without the writers permission, be removed. EHOW has said NO. U.S. writers are also demanding the right to edit those profiles, which contain their personal informat. Again, eHOW today has said NO. I would strongly recommend that no one sign up at that site. They will steal your articles, and your earnings, and not give it a second thought.
You pretty well covered it, Preacher. Hopefully our UK and Canadian friends will not buy into the same traps that eHow set for us, using bait and switch with a few early writers making decent residual income, then dropping the secret algorithm for later writers (which is secret for a reason, people, and InfoBarrel and HubPages can publish their forumulas, so can eHow) to a trickle, and finally cutting it off altogether. We can’t turn back time, but we can sure show the Brits and the Canadians that Demand Media’s scam tactics do not represent the way the US does business as a whole.
Hello, I am know as THE PREACHER and I am educating people to all of eHOWs dirty games. Lets talk a bit about those famous eHOW sweeps, shall we. Ever wonder what is really behind the madness? Yes, some are articles that are out of eHOW’s guidelines. Yes, some are poorly written. But many of these that get deleted are top earning articles. Thats correct, they are top earning articles, that have been in place for several years in many cases, only to overnight no longer fall within eHOW’s guidelines. How to hell can that be? What is really going on here?
Glad you asked. There is gold in your deleted articles, pure gold – for eHOW. I know, how can there be gold for eHOW in deleted articles. First let’s look at just what your high earning articles have accomplished. They have matured and rank high on the search engines. They have developed a following, in as far as online articles can develop a following. They have built up comments and views. And then eHOW comes riding in on its white horse and deletes em. All that hard work and effort is gone, right?
Don’t bet the family farm on it. EHOW wins on several fronts, and here is the secret to their dirty little game of deleting high earning articles. First, even though your articles get deleted, they are not totally gone, something very important remains behind and in eHOWs control – your URL’s. And therein is the gold, because eHOW takes your articles URL’s and redirects them to pages full of links to DS (DEMAND STUDIOS) so all your hard work and effort are now going to serve eHOW’s cause, promoting their DS articles.
These redirects are eHOW’s free bread and butter. The DS articles are already paid for, so all traffic they redirected to those articles is extra money in eHOWs pocket. An added bonus, they are now making money off the DS article ads and not paying for your articles any longer. Its win win all the way around. Another bonus, all your deleted articles comments. EHOW uses the strength of those comments to help drive the DS articles even higher in the search engines rankings.
This is why eHOW is never clear as to why your articles get deleted. In many cases, there is no reason they can clearly state and point to. Oh yeah, we deleted your top earning articles so we can make a pile of money off of them – nope, don’t expect them to answer truthfully on this one. But now you know, redirects of deleted articles spells gold for eHOW.
Thanks, Preacher. Your words are accurate, and will help many others.
I’m just beginning to investigate online publishing as a second income source, and was researching eHow when I came across this. Can you recommend any better companies?
It’s now six months since the last post. Any resolution yet?
Hello, Jack. The resolution with eHow was that they stopped their residual payments for any new articles and anyone who wants to write for them has to apply to Demand Studios. Sounds like Demand Studios is having big problems now (surprise!). Editors are now taking 5 or more days to approve articles, and PayPal has supposedly accused at least 20 DS writers of laundering money through DS–probably because they changed their name to Demand Media Studios or something along those lines, and PayPal doesn’t recognize it as a legit company. Well…ahem. They might have a point there.
Nonetheless, thousands of dollars are being withheld from writers who earned money through DS, according to the DS forums, and they say DS will not help. Not sure why I’m wasting time talking about such a sham company, except there might be one or two naive people out there who still think DS is the way to go.
That said, I’d recommend InfoBarrel and HubPages for residual income. It will take a lot of work and time. Or apply to LoveToKnow.com. They pay $20 per article and actually care enough to interview people who want to write for them. My experience with them has been very positive so far. Good luck!