Just over one year ago, Google unleashed the first iteration of Panda (ed : they might just as well have called it Dame Ocles), its most radical algorithm update yet, one which has changed the lives of online content producers forever (check our article "Google Panda Loves Porn Websites (Amongst Other Things)" published in April last year).¶
Google's aim back then was to eradicate the dozens of content farms that had proliferated in the last few years while limiting collateral damage as much as possible (ed : Google still hasn't managed to distinguish between the original source and the content scraper).
We have therefore analysed a loosely-assembled list of so-called content farms to see (a) whether they have been affected, and (b) whether Panda was worth it. For that, we used Google Trends but we didn't manage to bypass its five-site limit which means that we had to run many graphs at the same time.
We have compared the following sites over the past two years, sites that have been categorised as Content Farms. Note that Google Panda was rolled out in April 2011 and that the graphs below illustrate search traffic from Google which is always a fraction of the total traffic on a website. Bizrate.com, Ehow.com, Answers.com, Superpages.com, associatedcontent.com (now voices.yahoo.com), allexperts.com, answerbag.com, articlesbase.com, buzzle.com, brothersoft.com, bytes.com, chachat.com, efreedom.com, findarticles.com, essortment.com, examiner.com, experts-exchange.com, ezinearticles.com, fixya.com, helium.com, hubpages.com, infobarrel.com, mahalo.com, livestrong.com, mail-archive.com, questionhub.com, squidoo.com, twenga.com, wisegeek.com, robdex.com, wonderhowto.com, xomba.com, suite101.com, download3k.com, namyz.com, markmail.org, spike.com and allbusiness.com.
Below is the list of websites that have managed to grow regardless of Panda. Examiner.com, Superpages.com, squidoo.com and livestrong.com, ehow.com, answers.com, bizrate.com. It is worth noting that bigger websites have done better when hit by Panda probably because they have the resources to turn things around quickly.
The rest of the websites have seen traffic decrease substantially. Sites like Twenga.com or Naymz.com have all but disappeared from Google Trends' tracking system. So in hindsight, Google Panda has worked pretty well when it comes to eliminating content farms.
However, it still has a long way to go before it eliminates the spammy, duplicated, aggregated and scraped content that continues to pollute Google's Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).