Scribd, the so-called ‘YouTube for documents’ that’s recently also become an Ebook store, has been seeing a major drop in traffic over the last two months. Since June, the site has lost over 48% of its global traffic, falling from a peak of 58.3 million monthly visitors to 30.1 million less than two months later. These aren’t fuzzy stats, either— Scribd is Quantcast Quantified, which means the traffic is directly measured (you can see their full stats here).
We reached out to Scribd CEO Trip Adler, who says that the site is currently toning down its SEO efforts and further reducing pirated content. He also writes that there’s a dip associated with the summer season:
We made some changes that will have a short-term impact on traffic. Primarily: 1) improving our copyright filter, which keeps unauthorized content off the site and 2) reducing the aggressiveness of our SEO, which reduces total traffic in the near term but increases the relevancy of Scribd links in search engine results 3) trending down typical in the summer time — we experienced this last year at this time and other major sites (YouTube , Google Books ) are experiencing the same.
We’re not concerned about the dip – we expect traffic to go back up quickly. The metrics we care about at Scribd are active members of our community and uploads of unique, authorized works. As long as these numbers keep growing, we are positioned very well for long-term growth in unique visitors.
These product changes are part of a long-term strategy to focus on user experience and quality content. We call it a “controlled growth strategy”, similar to what Facebook did a few years ago. We have a lot product changes planned in the next few months that will increase quality / relevance / stickiness of the site.
It sounds like Scribd has some major changes coming, and it’s understandable that the site might want to prepare for those in advance. Still, it isn’t often that you hear about a site voluntarily killing nearly 50% of its traffic — perhaps Scribd didn’t expect its changes to have such a major effect (it’s sort of hard to believe that they aren’t concerned about the dip). That said, Scribd is still ranked as the 130th most visited site on the web by Quantcast, which is hardly anything to scoff at.