Panda Update: Google Lowers The Boom On


After escaping damage in the first rollout of Google’s Farmer/Panda update, Demand Media’s was reportedly not as fortunate in this week’s expansion.

Sistrix, one of the companies that’s been tracking the impact of Google’s changes, says that was hit hard by the latest Panda update. We already reported the Sistrix (and other) numbers showing that and were hit outside the US this week; Sistrix’s latest numbers also show that is seeing less visibility inside the US, too.

As the chart above shows,’s search visibility has tanked since Google launched the Panda update on April 11. Sistrix says dropped 66% in the company’s Visibility Index.

We contacted Demand Media earlier this week after the initial reports that and were hit on international searches. A company spokesperson told us that, other than their February blog post after Panda’s US launch, “we generally don’t comment or speculate on changes by major search engines.”

How Did Google Hit eHow This Time?

Demand Media properties generally fared well after the first version of the Panda update. Based on Sistrix’s original reporting, actually gained in both visibility and number of ranking keywords.


In a late January interview with All Things D, Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt said his company has “a great partnership” with Google.

This is why our partnership with Google makes sense. 1) We help them fill the gaps in their index, where they don’t have quality content. 2) We’re the largest supplier of all video to YouTube, over two billion views and 3) we’re a large AdSense partner. So our relationship is synergistic, and it’s a great partnership. And it’s a partnership that we’re excited to continue to expand.

But Google’s search quality team apparently didn’t feel the same way.

In its blog post this past week about Panda’s international expansion, Google’s Amit Singhal talked about the new signals Google is using and their impact on US searches:

In some high-confidence situations, we are beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into our algorithms. In addition, this change also goes deeper into the “long tail” of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before. The impact of these new signals is smaller in scope than the original change: about 2% of U.S. queries are affected by a reasonable amount, compared with almost 12% of U.S. queries for the original change.

It’s not farfetched to imagine that Google’s search quality team was surprised as anyone to learn that eHow escaped the first algo change, and set about tweaking it to go “deeper into the long tail,” as suggested above. And fair or not, eHow is one of the poster children of so-called “content farms” and it’s possible that a noticeable amount of searchers have used the block search results feature that Singhal mentions above.

(To be fair, not all content is low quality. I’ve successfully used their articles to do things like connect an unfamiliar wireless router to my parent’s PC. But there’s also some eHow content that leaves you scratching your head … like articles about how to pour a glass of water.)

Other New US Winners & Losers

Sistrix’s latest numbers also reveal additional winners and losers from last week’s Panda update. On the losing side are notable sites like, (the cable network’s website), and (I’m somewhat surprised by this last one on the list. is a generally well-regarded website that many parents rely on for school and community information, especially when moving to new cities/towns.)

On the winner’s side, Sistrix lists, and as seeing the biggest percentage gains in search visibility. Further down the list are several media sites such as,,, and Mashable and Huffington Post are also on the winner’s list … never mind the latter’s questionable content generation practices.

For more on the various Panda updates, see the articles listed below.

Postscript: See Demand Media: Panda’s Impact On “Significantly Overstated”

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Content Farms | Demand Media | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Panda Update Winners & Losers | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • franz enzenhofer

    i have to say it: sistrix visibility index is a joke as soon as you talk about the long tail of search. yeah, so what, they may track a few millions of keywords, but that does not mean that they track the keywords you get traffic from. for all long tail properties i work for there is no correlation between the visibility index and real traffic. for long tail websites sistrix is just tracking the wrong sample. other than that i think all competitive visibility data is mostly unactionable.

  • Michael Martinez

    No, they’re not tracking traffic but the whole world is watching for some sign of eHow’s impending doom.

    I don’t see it. In fact, I suspect now may be a good time to buy some eHow stock.

  • Jason Forthofer

    ok, so the how to pour a glass of water is a silly topic to write about. However, if someone does google that, is there a better page(s) this is more deserving than an article on ‘how to pour a glass of water’? isn’t that exactly what the user is wanting to know?

  • Joe Acerbic

    Argh, not this strawman again… it’s not some stupid, useless questions that make a pest to be eradicated: it’s the stupid, useless ANSWERS to real questions.

  • M.I.

    Who the fook are Sistrix? Just some PR for them. eShite still ranks on millions of long tail queries, often with multiple listings. Step 1… Step 2… then you get Livestrong on the next page. I perform long tail queires all day, and I am seeing eShite up there all the time, and not on just nonscensical queires such as ‘how to pour water’ but on things whereby informational accuracy and research quality is more important to the person performing the query. No one visits eHow for quality articles.

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