Yahoo Shuts Down Voices, Bid for Low Cost Content Fails

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Yahoo has announced plans to shut down its Voices site effective July 30 and its Contributor network effective the end of August.

Originally bought by Yahoo for $100 million as Associated Content in 2012, the Voices site, and the Contributor Network which supplied it with writers, were sources of low cost content, what some would call a “content farm”.

But following Google’s Panda algorithm, which targeted and downgraded what Google considered low quality content, 75,000 articles were deleted, reports Matt McGhee of Search Engine Land.

The rest of the content was transferred to a new site called Voices. The site paid as little as $5 per article mostly in Performance Payments from ad revenue for crowdsourced content.

And some of these were the kinds of often-criticized posts with titles like “Guide to Reducing Stress in Daily Activity” or “Five Hollywood Career Revivals Waiting to Happen,” said Ad Age at the time of the purchase.

For online small business owners and content marketers the message seems clear. Mass produced, low cost content lacking a unique perspective will always lose out to carefully crafted and authoritative alternatives.

But this might tell only part of the story, says SEO expert Aaron Wall of SEO Book. In an email exchange with Small Business Trends, Wall admits confusion at Yahoo’s decision:

“Strategically I don’t understand the incentive for shutting down Yahoo Voice and the Yahoo Contributor Network. I see numerous benefits to keeping it around. They could have:
– used it as a source of the sort of backfill content to augment their featured content
– kept it segmented and used it to find new and upcoming authors
– kept it around to give them greater cost structure flexibility during economic downturns & allow them to scale up near peaks without embedding as high of a fixed cost structure in their business

Every publisher has to have some blend of featured content & lower cost backfill content. Yahoo! has recently pushed to launch their magazine-styled niche sites with partnerships with known journalists and celebrities.”

But in the end, Wall noted another possible reason for the decision: Yahoo’s purchase of social blogging site Tumblr in 2013 for $1 billion.

Wall explains:

“Another factor worth considering is how they are blending Tumblr into their site and their native ads strategy. Perhaps with Tumblr having a far bigger footprint they could try to recruit authors from it to write for some of their verticals.”

In a note to contributors of the Yahoo network, writers who wish to continue contributing user generated content to Yahoo are told:

“You are encouraged to publish via Tumblr, though please realize the Yahoo Contributor Network publishing and payment platform is not being replaced within the company.”

Yahoo Photo via Shutterstock


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Executive Editor for Small Business Trends and a professional journalist with more than 20 years experience in traditional and digital media for trade publications and news sites. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has served as a beat reporter, columnist, editorial writer, bureau chief and managing editor for the Berks Mont Newspapers.

7 Reactions
  1. I was doing fairly well with Yahoo! Voices for over a month before the shutdown. I thought at first there was a problem with the undersea fiber optical cables, then came Panda 4.0 which sounded pretty annoying and after that I started my own blog with Tumblr. I’m having a funtastic time with my new blog lookatdesktop and I plan on writing more in the future to see what happens next. I miss Yahoo! Voices but am glad that Yahoo! Answers is still working. I like to answer lots of questions there and it’s a way to pass the time constructively and get an education in doing so.

  2. As the article observes the message is “Mass produced, low cost content lacking a unique perspective will always lose out to carefully crafted and authoritative alternatives.” Highlights the value of well researched and written content by authors/writers with expertise or original perspectives.

  3. Hmm but what are Voices for? Sorry about that. I guess I don’t know its main purpose. And if it doesn’t serve any main purpose, then it is better off dissolved.

  4. I dont understand why they do it, no author in the world will ever write for them after this move.
    I would understand stopping get new content , or making it harder to get accepted, but deleting the project ,bad one yahoo!

    • Perhaps they were making a loss from it. In any case, I wouldn’t have shut it down. I would have thought of a different way to make it work. That’s a whole lot of content they’re going to dump when it could have been made useful for something.

  5. So what will happen to all the content, from the point of view of the content creators? Does the content belong to them or to Yahoo? Will they be able to republish it elsewhere?