According to Jeff Bercovici at Forbes, while the bloggers may be vastly overestimating what their content brings in with respect to ad sales, when it comes to Google traffic, they may not be far off in terms of their value.
Bercovici argues that it’s the work by bloggers that keeps the website in Google’s good graces (i.e., all the original reporting that bloggers do keep Google from dismissing Huffington Post as just another content farm and dropping its search results.)
Huffpo’s aggregated links and story summaries, its commenter pages, its slideshows and so on vastly outnumber the original pieces of journalism produced by its editorial staff. But Huffpo also has a vast army of bloggers… who for years have been churning out what is undeniably original content.
[A]s long as it keeps the site in Google’s good graces, it plays an important role in ensuring Huffpo’s SEO-driven strategy doesn’t backfire.
If unpaid bloggers are turning against her and no longer giving her free original content, it makes sense that Huffington is on a reporter hiring binge, or else she risks losing tons of traffic from Google. But our guess is that those new reporters will see far more of the $315 million than the unpaid bloggers ever will.