Number Crunchers: Who Lost In Google’s Panda Algorithm Change?

On Thursday, Google announced a major change to its search algorithm, designed to weed out shallow and low-quality content from its top search results. Content farms were seen by many as the target. Were they hit? Who was hit? Some figures are coming out.

If you were expecting these figures to show Demand Media’s eHow site to have been harmed — surprise! Two studies show eHow actually gained. I’m still crunching through some of the figures, but the biggest “content farm” type brand that seems to have suffered are Associated Content.

Sistrix’s Visibility Index Losers

Over at Sistrix, the company crunched through 1 million keywords that is says it has before and after placement data about. It then ranked these by a “visibility” index value that Sistrix created, which takes into account the number of keyword positions lost, specific ranking position and estimated clickthrough rate from those results.

Using an index makes some sense, because if you just rank by the percentage of keywords lost, you get some sites with relatively few ranking positions dominating the top “losers” list. Below, the domains that lost the most total visibility, according to Sistrix:

Domain Visibility Index Loss SISTRIX (percentage loss) 93.3622 -77% 58.4273 -90% 50.755 -94% 47.7632 -87% 39.5044 -74% 37.6418 -66% 36.7005 -85% 35.7198 -93% 27.2522 -90% 23.4146 -91% 22.9456 -80% 22.6942 -91% 21.4714 -83% 18.7999 -94% 17.8122 -84% 17.2586 -84% 16.9008 -71% 16.104 -93% 15.9952 -77% 15.7573 -85% 15.6825 -83% 15.5617 -73% 15.2418 -90% 15.0573 -91% 15.0415 -89%

Note that the table above is slightly different than what you’ll find at the Sistrix site itself. I created the chart using a spreadsheet that Sistrix sent to me (more about that below), sorted by the same factor that Sistrix says it used for its own post. I’m checking on this.

Sistrix: Most Keyword Rankings Lost

Upon request, Sistrix will send people a full list of 331 domains that were found to have lost in its analysis. With Sistrix’s permission, here are the top 100 domains that suffered losses, sorted by total number of keyword positions lost. Also show is the percentage loss. For example, was found to have 216,419 top rankings before the change, which dropped to 53,512 rankings after — a loss of 162,917, or 75%.

Domain Positions Lost % Loss 162,917 75% 141,469 79% 130,231 71% 102,820 67% 62,049 72% 58,666 63% 52,084 70% 50,909 62% 44,621 69% 41,260 61% 39,509 56% 36,945 48% 34,494 81% 32,981 67% 31,711 64% 29,835 78% 29,011 39% 28,513 68% 27,594 40% 26,650 56% 25,867 42% 25,621 77% 24,135 71% 23,346 70% 22,506 67% 22,254 57% 21,949 39% 21,615 86% 21,528 43% 21,510 73% 21,421 48% 21,096 56% 20,042 73% 19,655 58% 19,625 51% 18,931 66% 18,877 77% 18,625 49% 18,175 38% 16,743 78% 16,386 70% 16,201 62% 15,162 70% 14,259 72% 14,190 78% 13,766 38% 13,541 85% 13,426 75% 13,340 69% 13,324 34% 13,312 57% 12,900 48% 12,601 35% 12,600 54% 12,387 75% 12,380 41% 12,154 67% 11,938 63% 11,804 76% 11,639 67% 11,410 47% 11,191 55% 11,167 76% 11,000 48% 10,832 80% 10,699 40% 10,560 70% 10,423 63% 10,331 47% 10,298 76% 9,781 32% 9,412 75% 9,293 52% 9,135 67% 8,986 58% 8,974 75% 8,909 27% 8,632 65% 8,594 46% 8,577 64% 8,539 66% 8,473 48% 8,316 61% 8,240 58% 7,948 55% 7,927 34% 7,908 50% 7,828 47% 7,807 73% 7,779 62% 7,728 63% 7,695 78% 7,660 59% 7,652 62% 7,619 63% 7,445 64% 7,401 62% 7,252 29% 7,171 69% 7,124 67%

Ubergizmo Disagrees

Look toward the end of the chart above, and you’ll see site Ubergizmo listed. However, in the comments below, Ubergizmo’s Hubert Nguyen suggests that Sistrix has it wrong. His site’s search related traffic has gone up since the change, and he’s posted a chart to back that up:

The data is from Google Webmaster Central. What could be happening is that Sistrix is right — Ubergizmo may have lost rankings — but it might also be better placed in some other searches where it has retained these but other sites have dropped.

Sistrix: Biggest Percentage Keyword Rankings Lost

Below, a top 25 list, this time sorting by the biggest percentage losses suffered, from the Sistrix list:

Domain Positions Lost % Loss 3,752 88% 21,615 86% 13,541 85% 6,359 83% 2,717 83% 3,236 83% 5,468 83% 3,229 81% 1,354 81% 34,494 81% 4,326 81% 4,924 80% 4,535 80% 3,657 80% 10,832 80% 4,590 80% 2,964 79% 141,469 79% 1,039 79% 5,966 79% 2,281 79% 2,662 79% 1,239 79% 4,041 79% 1,211 78%

Sistrix: Demand Media & eHow Escape!

Interestingly, for an update that was targeted at content farms (in my view, nor am I alone in that view), Demand Media’s flagship site doesn’t make the list. Over 300 other sites saw a “visibility index” drop worse than eHow. In fact, Sistrix says that eHow actually went up in visibility value (from 270 to 310) and increased the number of top rankings held, from 317,320 to 324,021.

A few of Demand Media’s other sites did see losses. and just made the end of Sistrix’s top 25 visibility losers (in my chart using Sistrix’s data, they’d come in at 32 and 34, respectively. In terms of positions lost, LiveStrong was ranked 39th on a percentage basis but only 293 in total number lost. AnswerBag ranked 10th in total number lost, and 16th. On a percentage basis, AnswerBag was way back at 158th while was 27th.

Overall, I’d say Demand Media did well in this update, at least according to Sistrix’s data.

SEOBook On Losers…

Over at SEObook, Aaron Wall takes the Sistrix numbers above and tries to come up with a winners list. He’s come up with a list of sites that seem similar to eHow (which is run by Demand Media, and which is NOT in the Sistrix top ten above but which is considered by some to be a content farm). He then takes that list of sites to see which have had gains and losses in traffic. Top losses:


And Winners

And sites with top traffic gains:


Keep in mind this isn’t comprehensive, not in the least. There could be — and probably are — sites that have gained much more from the update. But figuring that out is hard. Wall’s working as best he can within a “content farm” type category.

Dan Abbamont

Dan Abbamont mined about 60,000 queries, if I understand correctly, and compared rankings on to, which is Google Canada. His logic is that since the change is only working in the US, this will show a before-and-after look by using Google Canada.

I’m not sure this is correct. Google Canada will have geo-targeted results that will be different than The ranking changes he’s seeing might be due to that. But here’s a summary of what he’s found:

  • lost an average of 34 positions
  • lost an average of 31 positions
  • lost an average of 15 positions
  • lost an average of 29 positions
  • lost an average of 30 positions
  • lost an average of 22 positions
  • lost an average of 33 positions

Abbamont also provides his whole dataset for anyone to analyze as part of his post about the study.

seoClarity’s Losers…

From seoClarity comes a report (PDF format) that looked at 60,000 keywords along with before-and-after data to see which sites suffered the most ranking losses. These were:


And Winners (Including eHow)

The company also looked at those that had the most gains. The top ten:


BNET Gets Compete Traffic Stats

BNET worked with Compete to get before-and-after traffic data for a variety of selected sites. The summary:

  • eHow: seems to be largely untouched
  • had a drop
  • had a drop
  • continued an existing drop
  • continued an existing drop
  • had a big drop

WSJ Gets Comments

Wondering what some of those sites listed above as being hit have to say? The Wall Street Journal has a nice article that did the rounds collecting comments. Some, like WiseGeek, confirmed a traffic drop. Others like Associated Content, said they are focusing on bringing more traffic to their articles directly rather than from Google. Google also said that if its YouTube site gained, that was “happenstance.”

More To Come

No doubt, there will be more dataset and studies to come. We’ll keep adding to them here, so this page serves as a type of clearinghouse list (there’s another one shaping up on Quora here). Also expect more analysis to come — please chime in with your own in the comments.

For more about the Farmer Update, see our other articles:

Don’t forget that at Search Engine Land’s SMX West search marketing conference in San Jose March 8-10, we’ll have a number of sessions where this update as well as Google’s previous updates will be discussed, including:

This post has more about all these sessions: Google’s “Farmer Update” At Search Engine Land’s SMX West Conference.

Opening image from IMLS DCC on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

Postscript: See:

Postscript: Google has since officially named this the “Panda” update, so our headline has changed to reflect that.

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


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Ryan Critchett

    Awesome post. I think that a lot of this data is pretty spot on Danny. I’ve noticed a significant buzz around a very popular internet marketing forum, the Warrior Forum, about this exact subject.

    People are reporting on large scales, most notably from, dropped positions.

    It’s turning some people upside down, while others, who remained having a long term SEO perspective and thus, engaged in purely organic (with maybe a smidgen of grey hat), are doing just fine.

    Thanks for posting this.


  • Rebecca Gill

    Great summary. I so ❤ Google right now I can’t even stand it. I’ve hated the majority of those sites forever. They were sucking up valuable SERP space with nothing but poorly written spam from someone who barely knew the English language.

    So so happy!

  • Paul Hassing

    Many thanks for your fascinating article, Danny. I think there may be some very unhappy campers out there. I’ve tried my content on several of the sites listed. So much effort for so little gain! I’m glad I didn’t waste even more time than I did. Best regards, P. :)

  • ptmoney

    I hate Google right now. They didn’t just affect these farms with this algorithm. They hurt many other sites. Fine to be happy, but don’t dance on my grave. This thing killed 50% of my personal blog traffic and income. All you Google lovers going to come help me find a second job now?

  • bonnieyu

    This is an excellent article! This list can help understand the metrics Google is using to identify these content farms. Is there a post that discusses the theory on which metrics Google algo change impacts yet? I don’t normally visit pages such as ezinearticles and hubpages but after this I took a gander.

    Many of these pages have common features such as:

    - high ad unit to content [text] ratio
    - large amount of content on highly generic topics

    I assume Google already has these types of variables in their algo. I suspect Google adjusted the weight on these so it penalizes the page more.

    Is there a good thread that has a list of small publishers hit by this? I’m curious to see their pages, because that can help validate which metrics are most important in this change.

    This is what makes super interesting :) All the changes that goes on. I guess now people can’t rely on article submissions for SEO!

  • bonnieyu

    btw is there a button that allows me to follow the comments via e-mail? Sorry, I got lost by the 10,000 different share buttons on the page.

  • Danny Sullivan

    There’s not, though that will likely come in the near future. And we’re cutting the buttons down to only 2,000 :)

  • bonnieyu

    Awesome – thanks Danny! Yea.. I had to be honest about that :P

  • Boost


    working out of The Netherlands I’m not familiar with most of the websites mentioned, but was wondering why a vertical search engines ( like ) aren’t mentioned / targeted in this context?

    These kind of websites may not be directly low content quality sites, but are somewhat of a mashup of xml/rss feeds / scraped vacancies provided by/ gotten from many jobsites?

    Any insights/comments, thanks,


  • fionn

    Fascinating but not unexpected. There are the heavy traffic content farms what about the small guys there are many more of those. I wonder how they fared is there a post anywhere about this anyone?

  • nibblett

    As a writer for Demand Studios, I am relieved by this article. And also offended by all of the commentary and sniping indicating that I am a subpar writer. Perhaps I am not producing Pulitzer-quality material, but I am doing honest work that allows me to stay home with my child and keep a roof over our heads. I do quality work, I submit quality articles, and the implications that I churn out cheap and poorly-written content are unfounded and unfair.

  • fragoulakis

    @Rebecca Gill

    I totaly agree with you :)

    Great Article btw

  • Aaron Bradley

    Interesting that is not mentioned one way or the other in the post (nor in Aaron’s Wall post at SEO Book, nor in the Sistrix blog post, nor in the Quora metrics round-up). It’s listed as #20 in Quantcast, #38 in Google Ad Planner’s 1000 Most Visited Sites (Jan. 2011), and generally mentioned in the same breath as other “content farms.”

    Has any data been returned about possible impact of “Farmer” on About?

  • Websong

    @Aaron –’s content isn’t “cheap” in the same way that other content farms are. Have you seen what they pay their guides?

  • catatrif

    I think that leaving ehow unharmed is frankly embarrassing. Also, there are some sites on this list that provide good content, like wisegeek. I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg, and many other smaller sites were hit also.
    This is not a “quality” update as it was marketed (to eliminate low quality content). This is a quantity update (eliminate sites with lots of duplicate content).

  • Aaron Bradley

    @Websong – I was not making an assessment of’s quality one way or another; I was asking about statistics regarding the impact of “Farmer” on About. As a self-update on that, I now notice that the SEM Rush statistics cited by Aaron Wall on his SEO Book piece so far indicates that About has been largely unaffected (Alexa now shows a slight traffic decline … but that’s, like, Alexa).

    In any case, I don’t know why you think there is any correlation between what a site pays writers and how they fared with “Farmer.”

  • ajkohn

    Using the Abbamont data I tabulated the aggregate change for all sites (e.g. *

    What i find is that for the 880 SERPs for which they appeared, they lost a total of 7,063 positions for an average loss of 8 positions per SERP.

    The Abbamont data may not be entirely accurate but it’s been directionally so through my analysis. This would indicate that properties were caught up in the Farmer Update.

    That makes sense to me since they are a content aggregator, and while some of the folks who run their topic areas are quite good, others are rather poor.

  • Dani of

    We made the Sistrix list and I am currently freaking out right now. We literally lost about 70% of our US-based traffic overnight. What’s worse, we are a discussion forum with editorial who employs absolutely no black hat techniques, no duplicate content, we’re really tough on spam, and I don’t know what on earth I can do to get back into Google’s good graces. I’m convinced we somehow got caught up in the mix because I was under the impression Google was targeting “content farms” and “Made-for-AdSense” sites, and not forums. In fact, like most forum owners, I was eagerly awaiting this update with anticipation because I thought it would help us sites that deliver 100% unique, quality content.

  • hubertnguyen

    I noticed that Ubergizmo was listed, so I thought that I’d comment a bit.

    First, we don’t republish anyone’s content, and our in-depth reviews have been very popular. The iPad Review broke the millionth reader a few months ago for example. It’s kinda weird to be listed among sites like that actually scrapes our RSS!

    Secondly, I’m not sure how Sistrix gathers its data but Google Webmaster Tools itself does indicate quite the contrary: the number of times that our top content has been featured in the search results has doubled on the 24th (see screenshot below).

    I’m not sure what Sistrix is seeing, but I would assume that whatever pages they were looking at went down, while other pages went up.

    Anyhow, this is yet another “service” that marketers may want to take with a ” (big) grain of salt” – just like Compete, it shows completely wrong stats for some sites, and “somewhat OK” stats for others. As long as you don’t pay for it, it’s probably better than nothing I guess.

  • Catherine Lockey

    Thanks for this amazing research data Danny. The data is fascinating. The only surprises I see are slideshare and technorati are on the losers list.

  • destination360 uses sub-domains extensively. It seems keyword in domain did well as well as big brands.

  • destination360

    and Sistrix stats are incorrect for us. Our little site is certainly no farm maybe a pea patch. D360 “original” content is written by writers with knowledge of the destination. No scraping just hard work…

  • ianbell330

    Commenting re:

    We have seen a hit in our traffic, about 25%, but it seems to already be climbing back up.

    Couple observations:

    - We were ranked #1 on Google for True Grit Review and are now on the 3rd page

    - We syndicate a lot of the content we produce and now our syndication partners are showing up before us in the results. Ex: “Netflix Vs. Amazon Prime” which we wrote and syndicated out to Yahoo News and a number of news stations. Despite having our partners link back to us as the source, they are still showing up first. We followed Googles guidelines with syndication partners, but they seem to have been re-written.

    - We have seen a hit on our reviews too. Ex. Nikon D7000 review used to be first page, now its several pages back. We noticed that Cnet does not show up in the results for a while too.

    - We are climbing back in results for some keywords like “Best Android Apps”

    Hopefully Google is still tweaking things, because they are hurting original content producers and helping others that are using 3rd party content.

    Ian Bell

  • saji

    Sistrix demand is still on higher side only. Google has changed its policy in search engine listing.Unique articles and contents will be exchanged more in coming days.

  • J_A_Y

    I have been keeping my close eye on this Google’s farmer update. What I found is that, at first step google had really removed or thrown back some of pages of these websites’s mentioned by Sistrix’s Visibility report above in SERP. I had checked yesterday ranking of one of my article submitted in and I could not found it in top ranking positions where it used to rank before this google updated. So I was confirmed till yesterday that google has done what they said. BUT on today’s morning I have again checked that ezine articles ranking and it was on its desired position. So from my point of view it was just warning step from Big G to all spammers and now they have restored most of it, or you can also say that Google might have made some mistakes by decreasing ranking of some pretty good informative websites.

  • leszekmp

    I’ve got a four-year-old site ( with 100% original content, no farming, minimal SEO ( basically just what WordPress does by default). Visits dropped 15-20% after the algorithm change. I guess I should feel lucky – I’ve seen some worthwhile sites drop more than 50%. I’m not a big fan of content farms, scrapers, or spammy sites, but I’d like to think my site doesn’t fall into any of those categories. Here’s hoping Google will tweak this fix to correct an overzealous algorithm, and not punish sites that don’t deserve it.

  • protestgoogle

    Google claim these web site are mostly content farm website without original content. The truth is, the existing of these company are deemed to be threaten to Google. What Google itself really is? Does Google use its own original content all the time? Absolutely not! Google crawl, organize and index other website’s content and present them to the user, and name it “SEARCH”. This is exactly what these content farm website doing. I do believe Google did this so that they can be the only gateway to all the content over the internet. This is unfair competition, and all people impacted by this should united and take action. Join us at for action.

  • leszekmp

    Well, there may be anecdotal reports of recovery, but not for my site (; 4 years old, 100% original content all by me, no farming or scraping). Google referrals are still down 20%, and AdSense earnings are down 40%+, and the trend is downwards. Thanks, Google!

  • shariY

    This was a shameless move by Google to discredit sites on other search engines. I’ve written high quality news articles at places like Associated Content that have actually gotten me noticed and invited to write for highly ranked and reputable publications both in print and online. As others have said, I’ve seen less quality at sites that managed to “keep their rankings.” The only fault I see with Assoc. Content, and some may not consider it a fault, is that they allow their Contributors to write articles just for their peers there, like using AC as a “personal blog” of their daily lives which I don’t think is helping AC’s reputation. But overall, I’ve gleaned some excellent information about many things — travel, how-to’s, news that I don’t research myself, etc. Plus, in the process of their “readjustment,” Google managed to take revenue away from people who, in this economy, are trying to eke out extra cash.

  • Millionaire Studio

    It’s funny that YouTube’s rankings actually went up and it could arguably be considered just as much a content farm as some of the other sites that got hit. To quote YouTube’s own statistics they receive over 35 hours of video every minute – how could that not be considered a content farm? But then of course, YouTube is owned by Google.

  • Miki

    Our 3 year old company with 100% original content was put out of business. That’s what you get for having a 100% eCommerce company and relying totally on Google because the price per click with facebook and Bing has gone too high. The combination of Google’s new price per click (minimum of $3.50 if you can get your ad to show at all) and the zero visibility now with the Farmer Update, has just added two more people to the job market. It’s very sad for our business which is based on helping dogs, DermaPaw. :(

  • stuffme30

    Well eventually it will be just a matter of figuring out ways around the new metrics by Google, but until then those content farms will be hurting.

  • Dan Abbamont

    Glad some people are finding my research useful.

    About the matter of geographical results – When using my data you have to assume there will be a margin of error for this overall. When looking at specific records, you should also be able to infer when a result is skewed based on geography. Some keywords are likely to have country specific results, but most aren’t. If my data seems to show that a site with a .ca domain dropped, you can disregard it and assume that it’s just an artifact of geography.

  • Adrian Head

    “Google also said that if its YouTube site gained, that was “happenstance.” Oh! was it really or does Google, as many suspect favor sites it owns?

    Having just paid 37.7m for a UK comparison site one can’t help but wonder how long it will be before this site’s ranking will exceed those of the other websites in the same category. In my opinion a search engine with the dominant control of the search market has no place owning or operating websites where it has the ability to put its sites ahead of competitors. No matter what Google might say there will always be a question of favoritism.

  • ketyung

    Btw what’s presented by Ubergizmo shouldn’t be correct. Google webmaster tools do not reflect immediate changes.

    They should use Google Analytics to look at their US traffic or search traffic. It should clearly reflect a traffic drop of at leat 30-40% in Google Analytics. Apparently, the change only affects searches from US and Google has not yet rolled out to other countries…

  • Adam Daly

    After scouring the web for an accurate list of sites affected by the “farmer” update, I find it’s hard to narrow down what sites have truly been hit. So far this is the most exhaustive list I’ve found. Thanks for being thorough.

  • Kelly Smith

    I was wondering how long it was going to take to get through all the spammy content out there. I personally think this is just the beginning of this type of change. There are LOTS places whose only value is to show a revised version of the same article posted in a hundred other places. The real trick will be to see how big G pulls it off. Once you have to start evaluating “grammer” from a robotic point of view, its certain that many properly written articles will also be hit. Then what will we do? But the folks at big G will certainly not care too much, as long as they remain the #1 Search Engine.

    On one side, there is just too much control from them. On the other, they need to do this type of thing because everyone tries to game the system.

    Just stick with the basics of proper SEO and you will be fine (I hope).

  • Tony Eldridge

    Excellent post. I have been looking for data like this to see how things were really shaking out after the change. I bet that we continue to get a better and better picture over time and I bet this is not the end of Google’s tweaks regarding content farms. It will be interesting to see how these sites fare in a month, 6 months and a year. It will also be interesting to see which new sites come on the scene as the result of the algorithm change.

  • Carl Townsend

    Great post. Where do the various yellow page directories and DEX stand? Did the paid listings there drop?

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