Reports of traffic changes aren’t very accurate.
I’ve seen a number of reports estimating the damage to major content sites from Google’s so-called Panda updates.
I’ve come to one conclusion: none of them are more than directionally accurate.
Yes, we know that a lot of content sites have taken a beating, but by how much?
Early reports focused on the number of search terms the sites ranked for. This doesn’t have as much correlation to actual traffic as you might think.
Now we’re starting to see reports from metrics firms such as Hitwise.
My guess is the Hitwise data is being taken out of context. Or Hitwise is overstating the effects.
If I’m reading this spreadsheet the way the Forbes blog posts suggests I do, I’d think that traffic at eZineArticles is down 77%.
I suppose it’s possible. In March EzineArticles.com said it’s traffic was down 10%-30%. If you believe that most of its traffic came from Google, then this wouldn’t match up with Hitwise’ data. (I’m not putting it past any publisher to understate the hit it took.)
Same goes for many other sites on the list. Either they get a ton more traffic from non-Google sources than we think, or these estimates of traffic drops are wrong. Keep in mind that most of these estimates are based on profiling; few of them are directly measured.
My point: take all of these numbers as merely “directionally accurate”. Yeah, these sites have been hit. But these numbers may not give the right magnitude.