April 18, 2011 at 3:40 PM ET
About a month and a half ago, Google introduced a new algorithm that would help the average Googler receive search results uncluttered by spammy-ish, "low-quality" content farms. While Demand Media's eHow escaped the initial fallout, it's now at the top of the "Losers" chart compiled by SEO analysis site Sistrix.
My colleague Rosa Golijan gave a very good translation of Google's revamped ranking system, which I'll repeat here: "It means that you should start seeing far fewer search results which include links to 'content farms' — sites practically bordering on spam that are specifically tailored to attract Google searches — and more links to what Google considers high-quality sites."
High-quality, as defined by Google: "Sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on."
Not considered so high-quality: eHow. While multiple articles on topics like how to make a first-aid kit, or how to prevent wrinkles in clothes and how to stop airplane sickness may seem helpful, there are sometimes so many different choices that it defeats the benefits of finding the answers users want, in a timely fashion. And very few, if any articles, seem to have footnotes or reporting that back up the advice offered.
"Ehow.com got hit this time. They were among the sites at which the farmer update was aiming but somehow survived the first round. Like in the UK, they lost massive visibility in the US since this week," reported Sistrix's Johannes Beus, who has been analyzing the effects of this change since it came out in late February. This table, like previous ones from Sistrix, shows the result of taking one million keywords and compared the sites' before and after results based on the Google change, with this table being the most recent one.
Demand Media did not take well to the third-party analysis of the blow to eHow and released a statement refuting the impact of Google's algorithm.
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. Recent search engine algorithm changes have negatively impacted search driven traffic to some of our websites, including eHow.com, resulting in moderately lower year-to-date page view growth for the Company's owned and operated Content & Media properties compared to page view growth rates before the algorithm changes. Nevertheless, the Company currently expects that its year-over-year page view growth across its owned and operated Content & Media properties in the second quarter of 2011 will be comparable to, or greater than, the year-over-year page view growth achieved in the second quarter of 2010.
This prompted Beus to issue a contrite update: "I’d like to emphasize that although our data usually correlates quite well with actual traffic numbers it is a view from the outside and Demand Medias' own data is of course correct."
But Demand Media still hasn't released numbers to show what the "negative impact" was, only that it wasn't as high as the Sistrix analysis of a 66 percent drop.
There were some winners, too, however, including Wiktionary, Yelp and Etsy. Newsier sites definitely fared better with the new algorithm, too, with latimes.com, boston.com and cbsnews.com picking up some momentum: