Google Panda Update: More Recovery Stories

    October 18, 2011
    Chris Crum

Google’s Panda update has been shaking up the web for better or worse all year, and for the longest time, there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of recovery stories. Eventually, we started to hear about some – perhaps most notably – that of DaniWeb, which after managing to make a 110% recovery, was hit again (and then recovered again shortly thereafter as Google continued to tweak the update).

Google continues to tweak the update and make additional algorithm changes, and we’re hearing more stories about recoveries from Panda. SearchMetrics recently reported that various sites it had previously reported as losing search visibility due to Panda had bounced back.

Remember FonerBooks that we talked about earlier this year? Morris Rosenthal, who runs that site, had written a guest post for us about Panda. Now, he is talking about a different site of his making a recovery. “My IFITJAMS site, which got crushed by Panda in April, recovered with no changes in the September update, and is now getting a 3X to 4X boost from the latest Panda,” he tells us.

“The main ways it differs from my other two sites that were hit by Panda and didn’t recover is that it has far fewer links and authority,” he says. “Go figure. Now, at a tenth the size of the smaller, it gets as much Google traffic as both of them put together.”

He has a whole post about his Panda experiences here, including the following charts:

IFITJAMS graph  

Rosenthal's sites

That YouTube tie-in part is certainly interesting, considering that we know YouTube has been a consistent winner in the Panda update.

Scott Conlon, President of MyAreaNetwork shared another recovery story with us. “While the Google Panda update definitely hurt our business and profits over the last few months, we now have a better website for our community,” he tests WebProNews. “Without the Panda update, our websites would not have had a complete redesign for a while.  So through all the damage that was caused to even quality sites like ours, there is a lot of good that comes in the end.  We all want to make the Internet a better experience for everyone.  Google is helping drive that initiative.  No hard feelings Google!”

He shared more details about this story in an email, which I’ll just include here, so you can get it in his own words: is part of our national network of local area websites, MyAreaNetwork.  We have over 75 areas launched but since we are based and expanding out of Tampa, has been our golden child.  

We support Local Businesses!  813area is not just a local website.  We get connected with the community through local outreach programs, sponsoring and promoting of events and encouraging local commerce.

All of MyAreaNetwork’s websites were hit by the Google Panda update on April 12, 2011.  Our immediate reaction was to frantically look for what caused the drop.  We had been investing quite a bit into content and promotions at that time and began to feel devastated.

Over the next week we realized we had been a victim of the Panda update.  At first we thought it can be fixed quickly.  Remove all our low quality pages, drop anything that might be duplicate content, disallow crawlers from non-content related pages and we should be fine.  We never once doubted our content and have never been involved in link building programs, so we felt we were being mistakenly penalized.

After a couple weeks we decided to focus on user experience.  We continued to follow the Google Webmaster Forums, Matt Cutts and other spokesmen for the Google algorithm changes.  When a company loses over 50% of their traffic, they are also losing over 50% of their revenue.  There were times that I thought we would have to lay-off some of our employees or even take our company in a whole new direction; however, we kept at it day in and day out.

Over the next several months we focused on user experience.  We redeveloped the websites in a complete new structure that would allow for us to easily add new features, create a mobile friendly experience (still in progress) and make the content easier to find and read.  More energy was focused on building direct traffic and referral traffic so that we were not so “dependent” on Search.  

Regarding content, we continued with our plan to keep building content.  Adding business listings, posting events and writing articles.  In fact we even built upon our CMS to bring on new contributing authors and will be launching a platform to bring on more writers.  Our content is not going in the direction of a content farm by any means.  We are focused on local content such as community events, local businesses and local organizations.

On October 14th, just over five months later, had a complete rebound of Google search traffic.  In fact, our Google traffic was up 11% higher YOY compariing Friday to Friday.  Immediately we thought all of our sites would rebound but that was not the case. was the only site within our network that would recover.

With this recovery, we are confident that we can get all of our sites out of the hole.  We feared that because we were a network of websites that everything was penalized together.  We will continue to focus on the user and building content for the users to share, engage with and not simply to find in search results.

Key steps we took to recovery:
– Removed low quality pages from Google index
– Removed subdomain from index as this is the same content on all our websites
– Changed title and meta tags removing any sign of keyword stuffing
– Implementing markup on our Events, Business Listings and Articles
– Complete redesign of our site structure from a side navigation to top navigation with very little to no table elements
– Implementing HTML5 to be prepared for future development
– Focused article content on user (i.e. more compelling titles, call to actions)


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.