I know you don't want ads to be the reason, but after checking all the sites on the list (and not just the home pages) ads are what scream out at you. However most of the ads are animated - thus very distracting. It's like revisiting the world of websites of the 90s with their animated gifs.
Also many of the sites have a featured article slide-show. These compounds the distractions, making it difficult to focus on the content and distinguish between links to content and links to ads.
These sites may not be content farms, but their website design suggests a revenue earning focus over a good user experience.
The only 3 which don't completely fit the mold are:
just-food.com (though they had an annoying newsletter subscription pop over)
reghardware.com (yes they had ads, but nothing too bad and all below the fold. Seemed OK to me)
DISCLAIMER: I've been using adblock+ for years so am not used to seeing ads on websites. Perhaps they are all this bad.