Despite a recent press release, indications are that Demand Media, which owns content sites such as eHow.com and Answerbag.com, has been one of the hardest hit by Panda’s international rollout. Several weeks after the Google update was released for all English-language results, a Hitwise study on Panda’s effects has shown that Demand’s content sites have lost significant traffic.
Other sites hard hit by the update have been Associated Content and Yahoo Answers, both Yahoo properties.
The impact Panda has had on these sites does raise a few questions as to how information resources are going to be able to cope in the search future. One common factor for the sites losing the most traffic after the update has been their dual nature. Associated Content and eHow built their popularity from their function as content purveyors as well as content hosts. The massive amount of duplicated content on their pages is an obvious cause for their downfall after the update, but it was a valid foundation of their popularity. It’s hard to see how the ‘content source’ business model will survive as Google pursues elimination of duplicates.
The impact Panda has had on formerly popular sites has been a harsh reminder for all site owners that content needs to be fresh and original to assist with SEO. The provision of unique content is already a central concept for SEO, but may become even more of a sales point. With Google’s increasingly hard stand on the content issue, no SEO plan can afford to let content remain a side issue.