Matt Cutts, the man in charge of Google’s anti-webspam efforts, made waves when he publicly announced that the search giant would be tweaking its algorithm to try and reduce the number of high ranking results coming from “content farms”. The news was especially dramtic because it broke just as Demand Media finally made good on its billion dollar IPO.
The connection between these two events was harped on quite a bit in the media, but an analysis of the change in search rankings after the algorithm update, known as Panda, found that eHow, which houses the majority of Demand Media’s editorial content, was not negatively affected by the change.
It was especially interesting since some of their peers in the “content farming” industry, like Associated Content and Mahalo, saw traffic on their keywords drop ad much as 93 percent. According to a report from Sistrix, Demand Media even saw its Google rankings increase a bit.
This past week Google announced that it was rolling out Panda to English language speaking nations around the globe, and making some small tweaks to filters here in the U.S.. But the results on Demand Media were dramatic, with traffic from Google falling more than 50 percent, according to Sistrix.
Interestingly, this second update has incorporated signals from average users. Google made it possible for people to block certain sites they don’t want to see in their results. In a blog post Google’s Amit Singhal noted, “In addition, this change also goes deeper into the “long tail” of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before. The impact of these new signals is smaller in scope than the original change: about 2% of U.S. queries are affected by a reasonable amount, compared with almost 12% of U.S. queries for the original change.”
Demand Media, feeling the heat, issued a statement and blog post affirming that, “Certain third parties that have published reports attempting to estimate the effect of recent search engine algorithm changes made by Google on traffic to the Company’s owned and operated websites have significantly overstated the negative impact of those changes on traffic to eHow.com, as compared to the Company’s directly measured internal data.” They didn’t, however, issue any of their internal data to back up this counter claim.