Home Experian Hitwise: Google’s Panda Takes Big Bite Out Of Content Farms

Experian Hitwise: Google’s Panda Takes Big Bite Out Of Content Farms

Experian Hitwise reports that downstream traffic to content farms has taken a big hit since Google’s Panda initiative went into effect.

Panda is a change in Google’s algorithm that punishes search rankings for websites that produce low-quality or unoriginal content. It had been rolled out on a small scale in late February with the full punch taking effect April 11. Hitwise reports that Demand Media, the largest of the content farms with sites like eHow.com, has taken a traffic hit of 40% in the two weeks that Panda has been in effect. Other sites in that space like entrepreneur Jason Calcanis’ Mahalo (78%), Associated Content (61%) as well as Examiner.com (51%) have seen big dips in traffic coming from Google as well.

Jeff Bercovici of Forbes initially reported the Hitwise results and has a Google Docs spreadsheet showing the totals from Jan. 8 to April 23. There are some interesting results on it, such as Answers.com and Overstock.com being down 36% and 32% respectively. Technology and social media blog Mashable.com has seen a 40% decrease in Google downstream traffic in that period.

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Demand Media’s biggest site, eHow, has .29% of Google’s total downstream traffic, down 29%. On the flip side, YouTube downstream traffic from Google is up 20%. That should probably make sense by Google’s logic given that it is a site of almost purely original (read un-aggregated), user-generated content. About.com is up 30%.

According to Bercovici, in January 0.57% of people who left Google landed on a Demand Media site. In April that number is down 0.34%.

Search engine optimization consulting and Web analytics company Sistrix reported last week that eHow had lost 66% of its traffic since Panda, numbers that Demand Media refuted in a statement. Bercovici calls the Sistrix measurement “indirect” while Hitwise more direct. It is striking to look at the Hitwise and Sistrix data side-by-side. Sistrix was not specifically measuring downstream traffic from Google to other sites and hence the data is going to be quite different. Sistrix said it “based on observing ranking information before and after the update.” It has Mashable up 15% as opposed to the downstream Google traffic of 40%.

Demand Media filed an IPO in late January and on its first day of trading surged 33% above its initial value. It closed on Monday, April 25 at $14.69 a share, down from its high of $27.38 in late March.

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