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Google Panda Update – A Broader View of U.S. Traffic Patterns

Hitwise data looks at victims' Google traffic since the beginning of the year

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Experian Hitwise has released some new Panda-related data (obtained by Forbes), casting a broader view of what some of the update’s victims’ search traffic is looking like since early in the year – before Panda’s first wave.

There are some interesting findings here indeed. Forbes was kind enough to share a spreadsheet of the data, looking at U.S. weekly downstream traffic from Google.com to selected sites. The spreadsheet would appear to show the true top losers of the Panda update in the U.S.

Hitwise Panda Data

Click image to see larger version

It’s worth noting that not all of the data here is necessarily representative of Panda – just Google traffic in general. Believe it or not, Panda is not the only thing that can come into play here.

The thing that has everybody talking is the -40% hit Demand Media has taken in downstream traffic from Google in the U.S. Demand Media’s Answerbag took a -80% hit, LiveStrong took a -57% hit, and the company’s real bread and butter site, eHow, took a -29% hit. That’s from January 08 to April 23.

The usual suspects are also included on the list. For the same time period, Articlebase, the top loser on this list, took a -83% hit, Suite101 took a -79% hit, Mahalo took a -78% hit, EzineArticles took a -77% hit, HubPages took a -67% hit, and Yahoo’s Associated Content took a -61% hit.

Again, this is just up to three days ago from close to the beginning of the year. I wonder how the patterns will develop for these sites after another month or two.

Also worth noting – Overstock.com is on the list at -32%. Just this week, the company announced that they are no longer in “Google’s Penalty Box”.

Among the winners: Walmart, JC Penney (interesting considering recent events), Forbes, Whitepages, Etsy, eBay, YouTube (a discussion on whether this is justified here), YellowPages, and About.com.

Taming the Panda

If you are one of Panda’s victims, you’ve likely already been doing your fair share of site evaluation (and perhaps business model evaluation) and soul searching. There are many factors to consider when trying to get your site up to Google’s code for quality. Of course nobody knows exactly what that code is, but there are plenty of hints and starting points. We’ve looked at a lot of them here.

SEO Jim Boykin wrote an interesting piece about Panda, with a bit of a history lesson, referencing Google’s “supplemental index,” which was heavily discussed about 5 years ago.

“I believe that after they removed the ability to clearly see which pages are in the supplemental results, that they then went on a binge of putting way way more % of pages into this ‘Supplemental index’,” he says. “So something to understand today with Panda is that google was already pretty good at tossing the majority of everyone’s pages on their sites into the supplemental results. At least the Deep Pages, and the Pages with Little content, and the pages of dup content…”

He goes on to talk about different signals Google has added to its algorithm since then, and looks at post Panda interviews with Google that we have looked at in the past (see all of our past Panda coverage here). Boykin’s lengthy article is worth a read, but he concludes that the biggest question site-owners should be asking themselves (to avoid Panda Hell) is: “How do I get people to not quickly go back to the same google search?”

The answer, I would say, is to provide as much relevant information as possible to answer the questions users are likely seeking the answers to. Of course you have to consider that Google has a total of over 200 different factors it’s looking at.

Google Panda Update – A Broader View of U.S. Traffic Patterns
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