tedster - 6:22 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
What is it that Google did to devalue "content farms" and why did it effect so many e-commerce sites?
Yes - answering that is definitely the job right now. One category of ecommerce site that was hit seems to be those that depended heavily on article marketing or forum links for their rankings. But that doesn't account for all of it.
Another category seems to be "low amount of text on the page" or "overly copied text on the page". There's some suggestion, and I can't confirm this yet, that full grammatical sentences or a good reading level are part of what the algo change rewards.
There is one ecommerce client I've worked with for 11 years. Many of their #1 rankings fell to #3 - but it would take a complete redesign of their site to get more complete sentences onto the pages that lost rankings.
Fortunately in their niche, people often do shop through most of the first page and they form strong brand loyalties. So #3 isn't that much lower for traffic than #1. Customer retention through their email list seems to be holding sales together, even while total Google traffic has dipped about 10%.