Google has gone after content farms—those pesky websites riddling our search results with low quality content—full-throttle. Earlier this month, the search giant launched a new feature that enabled users to weed out this content clutter themselves, and last week, the company tweaked its search algorithm in an attempt to eliminate the spam from appearing so often in its search results.
But only days after introducing the changes, it appears Google might've missed some of the biggest content farm targets.
By studying the change in traffic from keywords, result rankings, and click-through rates, SEO consultancy Sistrix has revealed some of the biggest losers of Google's algorithm tweaks, in a new report. According to Sistrix's analysis, infamous content farms such as eZineArticles.com and Suite101.com were significantly downgraded on Google—both sites lost more than 70% of their keyword rankings and more than 90% of what Sixtrix calls visibility value. Also included in the top-10 hardest-hit sites was AssociatedContent.com, the Yahoo-owned network of "community-created content."
But there was one notable exception to Sistrix's report: Demand Media. The billion-dollar company behind content mega-farm eHow.com was seen as the ultimate target of Google's wrath, but according to Sistrix, there's not much evidence that many of its sites suffered because of the algorithm tweaks, though a few sites in their network did. "Quickly named an 'Anti-Demand-Media' update, I couldn’t find any real data proving this claim," says the report. "There is no sign that Google tried to downrank ehow.com. Ehow.com even gained SISTRIX value (from 270 to 310) and Keywords (from 317,320 to 324,021) during the algorithm change."
Meanwhile, at least one innocent site has been caught up in the content-farm sting. Popular Apple-fanboy website CultOfMac.com has already seen a huge drop in traffic since the algorithm was introduced and has "effectively disappeared off" of Google, according to editor Leander Kahney. It's unclear whether other sites were inadvertently affected by the changes.
It's hard to believe CultOfMac.com, or any site for that matter, could be as much of a concern to Google as Demand Media's network of content farms. How did Demand escape the algorithm tweaks?
I wonder if there's an article on eHow.com where I can learn more.
See Sistrix's content farm list.
Follow @fastcompany on Twitter.