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Seeing a 40% decline in sales since Google adjusted its algorithm, online ergonomic-products retailer Ergo In Demand Inc. in Central Point, Ore., reduced its 17-person staff to five, moved to a 4,500-square-foot office space from one more than double in size and cut $4,000 in monthly software subscriptions.
Many small but growing Web retailers say they have been punished since Google, which handles nearly two-thirds of all Web searches, moved in late February to weed out "content farms," or sites that post information without attention to quality or by copying text from other sources such as government websites.
But the impact was also felt by large e-commerce sites. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., and eBay Inc. appeared to rise in search results, according to companies that track Google rankings. One shopping site that has benefited, Buy.com, says it was "delighted" by the initial change.
Still, many small businesses that rely on Google for Web traffic are taking it hard—and looking for ways to adapt.
"We got caught in the fire," says Mitchell Lieberman, chief executive of One Way Furniture Inc., an online furniture retailer in Melville, N.Y., that had revenue of $17 million in 2010.
His company's website, onewayfurniture.com, saw its Web traffic from Google drop as much as 64% after the changes. Part of the problem, Mr. Lieberman suspects, is his company has relied on manufacturer descriptions for the 30,000 products it sells. He says many of his competitors buy from the same manufacturers and use the same write-ups.
Mr. Lieberman has started paying free-lance writers to create original, more detailed product descriptions. He recently added canonical tags to his website, which help search engines distinguish original from duplicated content. Despite his efforts, he says his site's ranking on Google has yet to improve.
To punish those sites for displaying the very thing to talk about is wrong and a dis-service to readers looking for open discussion everywhere.
A couple [review sites] are fine, the masses who needs 'em [?]
[edited by: Webwork at 12:19 pm (utc) on Apr 23, 2011]
Wave Of Layoffs in Wake of Panda
Part of the problem, Mr. Lieberman suspects, is his company has relied on manufacturer descriptions for the 30,000 products it sells.
Ever browse the site in question with Firefox? The entire top nav is non functioning, the links don't work.
Mr. Lieberman has started paying free-lance writers to create original, more detailed product descriptions. Despite his efforts, he says his site's ranking on Google has yet to improve.
This is done by Google on purpose. There a Matt Cutts interview on Forbes saying that they will seek to send more traffic to sites that are larger /spend more money or something like that. Essentially Google is aiming to kill the small site and Walmartize the web.
I did test their customer service, which was advertised as available, but no one answered. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't do business with that particular site. I'm just being honest...
What part of 70% of his staff got sacked did you overlook?
If 10,000 sellers are using the exact same content as the manufacturer, in Google's eyes, why should ANY of the 10,000 sellers receive any type of "benefit" from just copying the manufacturer's content.
Walmartize the Web
I don't agree with the whole argument that you shouldn't depend on one source blahblahblah, Google has a virtual monopoly in terms of internet traffic and everyone knows it.
Using Hitwise I've identified more than 58 of the top 200 health websites that got hit hard by Panda (20% or more of their traffic). I'm looking at the losers to see if I can identify trends/reasons. Has anyone done this sort of analysis in another industry segment?
Ergo In Demand was sloppy. I'm not sympathetic. I'm concerned about the sites that where not doing anything wrong.
LifeinAsia: im pretty sure that manufacturers WANT shops to use their descriptions. they spend a lot of money on branding their stuff. they come up with selling points and slogans to make their products stand out.
walkman: so only one store sells Nike Air XVII2015 ? What are they going to do, call them Adidas Air not to get banned by Google?
Google was made successful by webmasters.... not the searchers... ...not "Best Buy" or big box brands... It was made by the geeky professional (weekend website builder) who also worked in corporate America and spread Google because he/she believed in it