Google Panda Update – Webmasters Still Trying to Crack the Code

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Google Panda Update – Webmasters Still Trying to Crack the Code
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WebMasterWorld Founder Brett Tabke recently started an interesting thread in the forum looking at different user behavior elements, and a combination of factors that make up what he calls the “Panda Metric.”

“In this socialized world, it just makes sense that Google would start using more engagement metrics such as demographic, psychographic, and behavioral metrics. I started to put together a list of possible data sources Google could use as signals, and the list quickly grew large,” says Tabke. “Most of the engagement metrics Google can use, will fall into the realm of user behavior. Those data sets can be combined with a successful search result into a powerful metric for your website. I believe that metric is now replacing Page Rank as the number one Google indicator of a quality site. I have been calling this mythical metric, the User Search Success Rate (USSR) or the Panda Metric (PM). This is the rate at which any search results in a happy searcher.”

He goes on to breakdown different things Google is looking at, like referrals, location data, browser request headers, site/advertiser tracking, cookies, query entry, SERP behavior, and results clicked. He concludes that “Highly successful, high referral, low bounce, quality, and historical pages have seen a solid boost with panda.”

SEO Jim Boykin, references Tabke’s post, and concludes that Panda is all about “User Behavior in relation to each page of your website (or sets of pages on your site).”

Bounce rate is a large part of the user behavior formula, and that’s certainly come up in the past, when discussing Panda. When SearchMetrics put out its data looking at the top Panda winners/losers in the UK last month, CTO and co-founder Marcus Tober suggested that time spent on sitter is a major factor.

“It seems that all the loser sites are sites with a high bounce rate and a less time on site ratio. Price comparison sites are nothing more than a search engine for products. If you click on a product you ‘bounce’ to the merchant. So if you come from Google to ciao.co.uk listing page, than you click on an interesting product with a good price and you leave the page. On Voucher sites it is the same. And on content farms like ehow you read the article and mostly bounce back to Google or you click Adsense.”

“And on the winners are more trusted sources where users browse and look for more information,” he added. “Where the time on site is high and the page impressions per visit are also high. Google’s ambition is to give the user the best search experience. That’s why they prefer pages with high trust, good content and sites that showed in the past that users liked them.”

Of course original content is key as well. It doesn’t look like some amount of syndicated content is totally frowned upon, but if you don’t offer original content as the majority, you might be in trouble.

NPR actually has a new report out about a furniture seller called One Way Furniture feeling the wrath of the Panda update, possibly based on un-original product descriptions. They have been pulling descriptions from manufacturers. The report says:

We all wanted to believe it was something else,” he says. “Because rewriting the content is a tremendous task, when you have 35,000 pages.”

All those pages showcase dozens of individual pieces of furniture. Lauren Fernstrom is one of the writers tasked with rewriting the product descriptions of each of these items. She writes 20 in an hour. (That’s three minutes per item.) And the rewrites cost Lieberman about $1 per barstool. But each item on the site — and there are a lot of them — gets the makeover.

Anybody with a substantial amount of content that was hit by the Panda update has a decision to make: scrap the content that dropped off (as it must be considered low quality by Google)…that is unless it is providing value in other ways.. or work (and spend the time and money it takes) to improve it. For sites with loads of content, the decision might not be an easy one, particularly if Google is penalizing good content based on the less-than-stellar content that it is associated with, as some seem to believe.

The general consensus among seasoned SEO professionals seems to be that backlinks have little (if anything at all) to do with Panda. However if you’re linking out to lower-quality content, that might be a different story.

This would make sense on several different levels. For one, if you’re linking to content that’s not useful, it makes your content itself less useful. Secondly, you can control what you’re linking to. You can’t control who links to you. Since you can control what you’re linking to, and you’re most likely linking to your own content in many cases, it can’t hurt to make sure that your own content that you’re linking to is up to snuff itself. That, in turn, can only help the time the user spends on your site.

The bounce rate discussion is continued in the comments, and further in this article.

Google Panda Update – Webmasters Still Trying to Crack the Code
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  • http://googleclassaction.wordpress.com Sue Google HERE HELP

    Bounce rate is completely irrelevant for determining quality of a site.

    A visitor visits Site A. Visits 1 page for 5 minutes then bounces.
    The visitor then goes to site B. Visits 10 pages for 6 seconds each before bouncing.

    The visitor just spent 5 minutes on a site and bounced whereas they spent only 60 seconds browsing the other site’s 10 pages.

    Google panda update has NOT improved their search results 1 bit.

    Constant answers.com unanswered posts ranked number 1? Multiple Youtube videos on the 1st page results?

  • http://www.wedgeim.com web design

    Google Panda was a brutal update, however well intended there were some major victims that google doesn’t give a crap about, maybe Bing might care about those left behind?

  • http://homesteadwebsitebuilder.com Jordy

    Sue, I totally agree with you. Matt Cutts has made it very clear in the past that Google doesn’t use bounce rate to determine where a site ranks.

    I watched a video Matt did that gave a few things that we should be focusing on in 2011 for good SEO.

    Here are three things he mentioned:
    1)Optimize for speed.
    2)Make sure you have good internal linking with out a bunch of “spammy” keywords.
    3) Think about social media marketing, spreading things on Twitter, Facebook and digg.

    You can watch the video here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLp9Qf99DCI

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Where’s the part that makes it clear that bounce rate isn’t a signal?

      • Mfundo

        In fact at 43 seconds he starts to speak about bounce rate indirectly (the bit about customers ending up to do more things on the site)…he talks about ROI as the benefit but Obviously better ranking = increased ROI

      • Jordy

        Chris, I have searched to find the answer for you. Here’s a link (http://www.seomoz.org/blog/matt-cutts-movie-marathon) from SEOMOZ where many forum participants quote Matt Cutts as saying: “To the best of my knowledge, we do not use bounce rate in our web rankings.” He said this at an SMX Advanced conference.

        You will also find a reference to Matt’s comments on the subject here: http://searchengineland.com/live-blog-matt-cutts-smx-advanced-43906

        Finally, here is a Youtube video from Matt where he addresses this question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgBw9tbAQhU&feature=player_embedded#at=23

        Great post Chris!

        • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

          Hi Jordy,

          Thanks for posting these. It is important to note that these are all way before the Panda update, but helpful nevertheless. Appreciated.


          • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

            By the way, I’m currently working on a new article discussing this topic more. Should be up shortly.

        • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

          New article: on the subject: http://www.webpronews.com/google-algorithm-bounce-rate-ranking-signal-2011-05

  • http://www.palangparkir.com palang parkir

    wow! This is a good algorithm:) so that any webmaster to create a website and professional quality

  • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

    Let’s say you and your competitor both have pages on the same topic. When a user clicks on your competitor’s result, they stay on it for several minutes and don’t return to the SERP. After they click on your site, they stay for a few seconds, return to the SERP, and click another result. Which one is likely the better quality result? I think that’s the main takeaway here. Your page should make people not want to bounce back to the SERP to find a better result.

    • sam

      lets say some one search for current whether condition in Banja Luka, and goes to example.com/xyz/BanjaLuka page and gets what he wants. He goes back and visits another site just to clarify the result he found.

      So google takes this as a negative point for the site which he visited earlier?

  • http://www.thedirecttree.com John

    Everyone is trying to crack the new algo but my point is who says that it will not be all different in few months time?

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      They make changes every day. Things will always change, and Google will always look for ways to improve.

  • Jack

    I am wondering!

    what if you increase the length of time someone comes to your site via those annoying are you sure you want to go boxes that you have to answer and it still keeps you on the same page.. this way you can add additional 3-10 seconds to each person visiting your site. They might never come back again, cause those things are annoying as hell.. but you got your bounce rate up!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Google has over 200 signals.

  • lloyd sexton

    Bounce rate is a terrible metric to apply universally to search.

    Depending on the goal of a page, a high bounce rate could be good or it could be bad. Add to the equation that different people will differ on how useful any one page is, and you have a metric that is a poor gauge for relevance in a generic search.

  • http://www.swebdizajn.com/ Sale

    Is it possible to suggest a clear message that the change will bring prosperity? Although we all know that any change is welcome if directed toward simplicity, does, and this may be the same?

  • http://ariecyberedan.blogspot.com ariecyberedan

    how to become number one in google search engine? thanks

    • sam

      say good things about google.

  • Mazon

    We can all speculate. The government needs to get involved and breakup Google. We shouldn’t be dancing to their tune. They should be dancing to ours. Thousands of business I’m sure are going bankrupt and lives destroyed because of Google’s silly tantrums.

  • http://solusina.com/blogilicious-de-surabaya/ solusi

    I also want to be number 1 on google but I am afraid with goole panda

  • http://jokes4.me Massalha

    I have a Jokes website. How Panda expects from me to change my content to a unique one?
    Even my arabic version of my jokes website (http://arab-jokes.net) is number 1 for the word “joke نكت” in Arabic. I found my website ranked 2nd in Panda.

  • http://www.wickedwebsites.ca Calgary Design

    Hopefully this will one day fully replace link-building as the more powerful component of SEO — actually having happy visitors and genuinely great content.

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