Google (GOOG)'s push to weed out content farms -- low quality web sites that churn out massive amounts of text just to attract search results -- appears to be less of a threat than the traditional media may initially have feared.
A random sampling of prominent content farm sites shows that while very, very poor quality sites like Answerbag have taken a hit, sites where at least a minimal amount of effort went into producing written articles may have been unaffected or improved. In other words, AOL's Patch, the HuffingtonPost and even Topix have seen little effect on their traffic, or even improved readership, following Google's promise to take "stronger action on content farms." Here are some of the winners:
It is surprising that Topix and eHow have seen jumps following the changes. Some initially thought eHow would suffer from a decline in referrals from Google as the changes went into effect through March. The takeaway seems to be that Google was after the real bottom-feeders -- sites where literally anyone can type literally anything -- rather than mass content producers like HuffPo that use amateur writers to churn out generic posts with some original content.
Here's a selection of losers:
These sites pay their writers nothing or almost nothing. Of the four "winner" sites, all are news aggregators of one sort or another. In other words, they are sorting professionally produced content -- the stuff they are aggregating -- at some level.
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