The Huffington Post and ABC News easily topped a ranking of the most visible online news sites conducted after Google's recent algorithm changes.
In third place was Fox News, which received a significant boost over the course of a month with 22 first-page appearances on Google for its main Web site, up from 11 in March, according to CNET's analysis of nearly 100,000 search results. By contrast, Huffington Post enjoyed 54 first-page mentions and ABC News a total of 35.
To test how Google's new "Panda" algorithm, coupled with another announcement last week, affected search results, we conducted tests in March and again last Friday. Google's changes appeared to be a response to search engine optimizers and so-called content farms--as well as criticisms that low-quality writing was becoming more visible than quality content.
We compiled approximately 2,000 search terms from a sampling of Google Insights' Web, news, and shopping searches. We then removed the duplicates, resulting in a total of 1,656 search terms, tested those with Google.com (while not logged in), and compiled the results.
Technology news sites ranked highly, in part because Google Insights included many tech-related terms.
CNET Reviews topped the tech list, followed by Engadget, PCMag.com, PCWorld.com, CNET News, IGN.com, and Wired.com, in that order.
One surprise was that traditional news organizations didn't always fare that well.
The Washington Post barely bested AOLNews.com, Askmen.com, Autoblog.com, and DPReview.com. The Wall Street Journal, probably because of its paywall, was less visible than Examiner.com. And Time.com tied with Mashable.com.
Sites that fell, relatively speaking, between March and April: Engadget, MSNBC, PCMag.com, PCWorld.com, MSNBC, ESPN, and CNET.
U.K.-based news organizations also performed well, with the Guardian and Daily Mail featuring as many first-page appearances as MSNBC and Yahoo News. The Telegraph tied with The Washington Post.
Now, the disclaimers: Our first scan was in March, after Panda's appearance in late February, so it likely didn't capture the most significant changes. Also, this shouldn't be viewed as a representative cross-section of Web searches. Google Insights only includes the most popular requests, not the more obscure ones. It also focuses disproportionately on current events.
Here are the top 12 sites:
See for yourself
Below you'll find an Excel file with multiple spreadsheets containing the raw data. If you use the data for any purpose, please attribute it to CNET and include a link to this article.
If you find anything interesting, or have any suggestions, please contribute to the discussion below!
Excerpts of all sites, not just news sites, on Google Docs (limited because Google Docs allows only 400,000 cells)
Disclosure: McCullagh is married to a Google employee who is not involved with Panda.