Google's recent changes to its algorithm may have already started chipping away at the content farms.
According to an independent analysis from search engine optimization software firm Sistrix, content farms, the websites that put out a lot of content on many subjects that is of questionable quality, are losing visibilty and ranking when users search using many of the keywords used to drive traffic to them.
One way to game (Google) was to create a tremendous volume of low quality, cover-the-ground-in-200-word articles and I think that era is done, said Mahalo President Jason Rapp at the PaidContent 2011 Conference in New York City.
Rather than simply looking at traffic numbers, Sistrix studied traffic on keywords, ranking and click-through rate on specific positions. Called the VisibilityIndex, it looked at the number of keywords that appeared in top results found from the 1 million-keyword dataset for these domains before and after the algorithm change.
Comparing these results with the announcement from Google, they seem to have reached their goal: a whole lot of low-quality domains lost significant visibility in the U.S. Google search engine result page, it said on the Sistrix blog.
Suite101, one of the more prominent content farms on the web, lost 94 percent visibility according to the results from Sistrix. Not coincidentally, according to Alexa.com, Suite101.com's traffic is down 19 percent from last week when the new algorithms were put in place.
Rapp's Mahalo was another big loser, according to the Sistrix metrics. It has lost 84 percent visibility and more than 70 percent of its keywords. The keywords that do remain aren't faring too well. Most of them, according to Sistrix, can be found on pages 8, 9 and 10 of the Google results.
As a result of this, Mahalo laid off 10 percent of his workforce and froze his freelance production. The Google changes have led to a significant dip in our traffic and revenue. It's hard not to be disappointed since we've been spending millions of dollars on producing highly professional content, site founder Jason Calacanis said in an email to employees.
Other victims of the new algorithm are ezinearticles.com, associatedcontent.com and articlesbase.com, which all lost over 90 percent keyword visibility. Meanwhile, it's not just traditional content farms that have been impacted by the new algorithm. Apple products blog Cult of Mac wrote a post saying their traffic has been significantly damaged by the changes.
As for Demand Media, the company which many insiders say the whole algorithm change was aimed at, the changes have not actually been that bad. In fact, according to Sistrix's metrics, Demand's eHow.com site actually gained in visibility.
Google did not respond to a request for comment.
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