It's been a few months since Google improved its algorithms with the famous Panda update and we're on the cusp of another one… Panda 2.2. I wrote my thoughts here and here… and still confused as to whether it actually improved anything.
It did; however, hit large sites such as ChaCha without warning. ChaCha took the hit and immediately worked to improve some of the criticisms that they heard through SEO consultants… DK New Media included. In fact, ChaCha launched a new, faster, leaner version of their site today!
Such a drastic loss of traffic was bad… but to make matters worse, the search results page that ChaCha once dominated are now dominated by other sites… that are scraping ChaCha's content without permission. Ouch. So smaller, more niche sites that are stealing ChaCha's content are now ranking higher in search results than ChaCha pages themselves. Some of the sites even have attribution links clearly displaying that the content came from ChaCha.
There are ongoing discussions of this happening over at Google's Webmaster Forums. I'm not sure if Matt ever did respond to Shawn and ChaCha… but they deserve a response. At minimum, Google needs to remove this black eye and stop scraped content from outranking the original content.
Ironically, as the thread from SEMdude reads, Matt Cutts is even a victim. Ouch!
Since 2006, ChaCha has answered over a billion questions… and paid their guides and employees to research and find the answers. That doesn't really meet the profile of a content farm… but traffic took a dive. All of ChaCha's content is original – and even included in Google's answers! We'll see how ChaCha's latest site and Panda's latest release impact the company.