Barry Diller is giving About.com a radical makeover.
Diller’s IAC, which purchased the search-friendly reference site from the New York Times four years ago, is going to start turning some of About’s most popular sections into their own standalone sites, with new names and looks. It’s kicking off that effort today with the launch of Verywell, its new health site.
The idea is to keep About’s basic strategy intact — lots of content designed to do well in Google searches, made at low cost via a distributed workforce — with new brands that will resonate with searchers, social media users and advertisers, says About.com CEO Neil Vogel.
That starts with a name and design that’s supposed to appeal to younger web users, with visual cues cribbed from the likes of Mic.com, Vogel says. On traditional health sites, “Everything’s clinical and weird,” he said. “We can make stuff that’s more useful and more friendly.”
Vogel took over About three years ago and decided to reboot his most lucrative verticals last fall. A team started work on a new site, using About.com’s existing health content, at the beginning of this year.
About’s health stuff currently attracts 20 million visitors a month, placing it behind industry leaders WebMD and Everyday Health. The reboot will cost it traffic as Google and other referrers adapt to the new name and links.
Vogel won’t predict when that traffic will bounce back. But he says it’s worth the gamble: The brand he inherited is aging, and its Google juice is declining: “The risk and the opportunity are the same thing.”
If Verywell works, Vogel will use the same playbook for some other About verticals. Likely candidates include personal finance, travel and tech; About.com will remain the home for other categories.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.