U.S. Google Panda Update, Round 2: Shrinking Demand for eHow

One week ago, Google rolled out the Panda algorithm update worldwide, also noting that 2 percent of all Google queries in the U.S. would be affected — in part incorporating feedback signals from sites Google users have blocked.

Sistrix, which last week put out a list of early winners and losers in the UK, has also now released a list of websites most affected in the U.S., and Demand Media’s eHow is one of the biggest casualties.


As Sistrix notes, the impact of this second update to Panda wasn’t as large as the first go-round. Here is their list of the sites most impacted, based on an analysis of 1 million keywords:


When the then-unnamed algorithm first rolled out in February, several industry blogs bemoaned the fact that eHow, an obvious content farm, had escaped deranking — and had actually seen a boost. Just one month before that, while speaking to All Things Digital, CEO Richard Rosenblatt, said Google was a great partner because Demand Media filled gaps in Google’s index, supplied more than 2 billion views on YouTube, and was a large AdSense partner.

You can see the increase after Panda’s launch in late February, and then a steep decline last week in this Sistrix graph:


Just as eHow took a hit in the UK, it has also now been impacted in the U.S. — prompting Demand Media’s Larry Fitzgibbon, EVP, Media and Operations, to post a statement on the Growing Demand blog about the “significantly overstated” reports (no doubt in response to the company falling shares). However, he failed to give any actual traffic numbers, instead just refuting estimates and confirming the Google search referrals were down at eHow and noting “organic growth in visits from non-search sources to eHow continue to grow rapidly.”

To be clear: eHow hasn’t lost 66 percent of its search traffic — it lost 66 percent of its organic visibility in Google’s search results. Sistrix stands by its numbers, noting 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.” Whatever those numbers are.

SeekingAlpha also noticed big declines on April 14 for eHow, providing these observations:

On April 12, we noticed a ~15% decline in eHow “top 10 search results” on our keyword list in the morning, and a ~32% decline by noon, the day after the international Panda rollout. Ranking per hit has also gotten worse, by over 1 placement on average across over thousands of search terms.

Luckily, the eHow leadership can now simply look at the advice their site has published to aid in their own recovery, such as their instructions on “How to Do High Search Engine Ranking Optimization” in three “moderately easy” steps, featuring such advice as “accumulating an abundance of content over the internet,” and to avoid using “too much HTML or pictures on your website.”

Really? Yes, really:


But eHow is just one site that saw its organic visibility shrink. Others hurt include article sites Life123 (-94 percent) and Bright Hub (-91 percent), video how-to site VideoJug (-90 percent). Interestingly, Spike (the U.S. cable television channel) was hit by Panda (-64 percent), as was Superpages.com (-68 percent).


Boston.com (+20 percent), The Los Angeles Times (+9 percent), Reuters (9 percent), and CBS News (8 percent) were among the mainstream media sites given a boost in the U.S. by Panda. This is similar to our previous report, “Google Panda Update Shifts Estimated $1 Billion in Revenue to Large Publishers,” which noted that large publishers saw traffic increases after Panda first hit in February.

Popular blogs Mashable and the Huffington Post also saw increases.

Here’s the full list:


Review site Yelp, Ask.com, Wiktionary, Dailymotion, and Sears are also winners after Google’s update, according to Sistrix.

Here’s an updated reading list of stories from Search Engine Watch covering multiple aspects of the Panda update:

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