April 21, 2011 | In: Technology

Google, Panda, and GOOG

On April 11th, Google rolled out Panda at the international level. Panda is an algorithm that is supposed to penalize website with not so great content (read duplicate content), and reward websites with good quality content (read original content). Websites penalized under this algorithm have lost, in some cases, over 90% of their traffic.

Most of the websites penalized were content farms, which means that they contain articles with lots of keywords just to attract traffic. Many of these content farms host so called “derived” articles. Derived articles are those articles that are copies of other articles on the websites, with minor alterations to fool search engines. Google took a very bold step and penalized heavy weight websites such as EzineArticles (I have to say that back in 2007 I had a few articles published on this mostly spammy website. The articles still exist.), WiseGeek, HubPages, as well as many, many other websites. What’s weird is that most of these websites are monetized using Google Adsense, which makes Google look as if it stabbed itself in the neck. But did it really do this?

To answer this question, let us analyze, in one sentence, the Internet traffic:

Internet Traffic is mostly a zero sum game, if a website loses traffic, then another one will gain.

So the question is, who gained that lost traffic?

Take a look at Answers.com traffic, which gained 13% in March alone (a week after Google started rolling out the Panda algorithm):

Answers.com traffic for the last year

Let’s also take a look at another website, EHow.com, which gained 20% in March :

EHow.com traffic for the last year

Now let’s take a look at EzineArticles.com, which lost around 35% of traffic in March:

EzineArticles.com traffic for the last year

EzineArticles is by far the largest website that was hit by the algorithm change, and is 1/4 of the size of Answers.com. Obviously, Google has shifted the traffic from one MFA (Made For Adsense) website to another MFA website, a much bigger one though. Just for the records, Answers.com, with the exception of its wiki.answers.com subdomain, doesn’t have any original content (it’s all copied from Wikipedia).

At first glance, the initiated might think that Google did the right thing at the expense of its revenue, while in fact they did something while making sure that their revenue will remain the same or will go up. They didn’t shift the traffic to authority websites with no Adsense on them, they shifted the traffic to websites filled with Adsense. In fact, I bet the CTR on Answers.com is much higher than that of EzineArticles.com. After all, the former website looks much more professional and much less spammy.

Bottom line is, GOOG will not be affected at all with this algorithm change. But Google, in general, has other problems. Let’ see!

Oh, and by the way, Answers.com is listed in the NASDAQ, symbol ANSW (you know what you need to do right? But pay attention to that very high P/E, and remember, Answers.com is also at the mercy of the ever powerful Google).

Update: It seems that Answers.com was bought by AFCV Holdings a week ago. So forget about buying its stocks, it is no longer traded publicly.

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