The New York Times Company has confirmed recent reports that its About.com property was one of the sites that suffered traffic declines in the wake of Google’s recent Panda/Farmer algorithm change.
Speaking during its recent earnings call, CEO Janet Robinson said that About.com “experienced a moderately negative impact on page views from the algorithm changes Google implemented in the quarter.”
About.com was included on several third-party reports listing sites that were hurt by Google’s changes, but the general consensus was that many other sites had been hurt worse. The second link in that sentence includes this chart showing About.com’s decline in the SearchMetrics’ “Organic Performance Index” after the first Panda rollout.
During the earnings call, Robinson said About.com also saw a 10% decline in advertising revenues in the first quarter, “mainly due to a decrease in cost-per-click advertising.” The company has already started responding to some of these “changes taking place in the search universe.” The answer seems to be more content.
To address them, About is currently expanding the volume and distribution of expert content on its platform, including launching its Spanish-language channel, which includes all original content and can be accessed at about.com/espanol, increasing its roster of more than 800 guide sites by about 25% in popular categories, such as food, home, health, autos and parenting, doubling the number of how-to videos across its 24 channels, which will soon be available via YouTube and redesigning its Home Page.
Robinson says design changes in the ads served by Google are what created the “negative effect on click through rates,” a trend she expects to continue in the second quarter.
(tip to Forbes blog)