Spam and Punishment: Google’s Changes Cut eHow Search Traffic by 20%; Demand Media Pivots

We’re aghast at the prospect of losing such low-hanging snarkfruit as “How to Get to Heaven,” so news articles with titles like “eHow Getting Serious About Quality” make us sad, but it looks like Google’s recent crackdown on spammy put-some-words-on-the-internet content businesses is compelling some word farmers to up their standards. Google blocked certain sites, if you remember, in an algorithm update known as Operation Panda, and one of the victims was Demand Media-owned eHow. This is funny because Demand Media triumphantly went public–debuting at $17 a share, higher than expected, and rising 33 percent on the first day–shortly before Google announced it was changing the rules of the game. So what did that New York-based company tell stockholders on an earnings call yesterday?

“This is a real impact to our business,” CEO Richard Rosenblatt said. “And we take it very seriously.”

Pageviews and revenue are up year-over-year anyway, so Demand has time to turn this thing around before Panda permanently destroys their business. To that end, Demand has launched a clean-up initiative that involves deleting articles, editing others and commissioning higher-quality writers from now on.

A 20 percent reduction is actually not bad–WebProNews calculated took a 72.3 percent hit in visibility and took a 53.5 percent hit immediately after Panda.