Google Competitive Practices Brought Into the Panda Conversation

    May 6, 2011
    Chris Crum

We’ve been covering a lot of the fallout from the Google Panda update, and have reported on HubPages specifically a number of times. Recently we looked at comments made by CEO Paul Edmondson, comparing Hubpages to YouTube, as he pondered why YouTube didn’t get hit. He posted some direct questions to Google, which evidently, they’ve mostly ignored.

Edmondson is back at it with a guest post at TechCrunch. Here’s a snippet of what he had to say in that:

HubPages has seen a negative impact from this change, but so far YouTube has not (Search Metrics Winners). One presumes Google isn’t treating its own affiliated sites differently than any other site, but YouTube’s open publishing environment makes low-quality content as prevalent as on any other moderated open publishing platform. Google shows over 13 million indexed videos on YouTube for lose weight (known spammy area) and over 10 million for forex (another spammy area). Apparently, Google’s Panda update has been punitive only to platforms other than Google’s.

We certainly support and encourage changes to algorithms to provide the public with access to the best search results. We appreciate that open publishing platforms with a wide range of content quality also have a responsibility to moderate their content appropriately. While we understand the need for ordering search results, we also think it is a mistake to broadly impact an entire domain negatively where the content has been contributed by individual people. Bear in mind that a lot of the content on open publishing platforms like HubPages and YouTube is great, and it is exactly what people are searching for on the Web.

We have reached out to Google seeking feedback and guidance about what elements of an open platform are being penalized by Panda. There has been little response to our inquiries, from questions about site architecture posted on the official Google forums, to personal emails sent to Matt Cutts, the head of web spam at Google.

YouTube vs HubPages Post-Panda

Image credit: Edmondson's article on TechCrunch

He even goes on to play the competition card, at a time when Google has come under plenty of scrutiny for competitive practices (an FTC probe is reported to be in the works), saying, “We are concerned that Google is targeting platforms other than its own and stifling competition by reducing viable platform choices simply by diminishing platforms’ ability to rank pages. Google is not being transparent about their new standards, which prevents platforms like ours from having access to a level playing field with Google’s own services.”

A couple weeks ago, we asked, “Should YouTube have gained visibility from the Panda update?” Beyond Edmondson’s points, further fuel for the question was provided when YouTube released a stat in an unrelated blog post, indicating that 30% of YouTube videos make up 99% of views. Also worth noting is the fact that Demand Media is the biggest supplier of videos to YouTube. DM’s eHow lost 20 of its search referrals as a result of Panda.

It’s also interesting to note Edmondson’s lack of communication from Google, considering a Googler even went so far as to write a guest post on writing better articles for AdSense on the HubPages blog, prior to phase 2 of the Panda rollout.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.