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Google Panda Update: New Winners and Losers

SearchMetrics shares new data

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Google Panda Update: New Winners and Losers
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This past week, Google rolled out its latest iteration of the Panda update, which the company (as usual) downplays as only one of roughly 500 yearly algorithm changes.

It doesn’t sound like such a big deal when they put it that way, but for those who have lost major traffic because of it, it was a bigger deal than most of those other roughly 499 changes. Ask Dani Horowitz from Daniweb, who noticed the big traffic drop and tipped us about it before we confirmed the update with Google.

Daniweb was hit by Panda earlier this year, and was able to get all the way back to a 110% recovery – something few have been able to achieve. Then along came Panda “2.5” (as the industry is calling it) early in the week and took away more than half of Daniweb’s traffic overnight. All of the hard work that Daniweb put into that recovery might as well have been erased.

But Daniweb is far from being the only victim here. SearchMetrics, which has regularly released data about Panda winners and losers throughout the year, has compiled another list of the top winners and losers as a result of 2.5.

Here are the biggest losers:

SearchMetrics Panda Update

A few things worth noticing:

A. Press release distribution sites were hit again. We talked about PRNewsire getting victimized by Panda in the past. Now it, along with BusinessWire – arguably the two top services in this area on the web, have been hit again.

B. EzineArticles and Demand Media’s eHow – two big past Panda victims are not present on the list.

C. Some pretty high profile sites are on the list. Today.com. TheNextWeb (which if anything has increased in quality if you ask me).

It’s a pretty interesing list, as is the winner list:

SearchMetrics Panda Update

A few things of note with regards to this list:

1. Google sites won again (YouTube and Android.com). I’m not saying they shouldn’t be on the winners list, but given the regulatory scrutiny Google has found itself in over how it treats its own content in search results, one has to wonder if this will draw the attention of regulators.

2. HubPages is on the winners list. The site, which we have written about several times, used to make the loser list. They must be doing something right. But who knows? They could get hit on the next one. One would have thought at that Daniweb was doing something right too.

3. The list is dominated by pretty big brands.

I’m sure we’ll be digging into all of this more soon, but this is a quick look at what Google’s algorithm is considering to be of quality, for better or worse. It will be interesting to watch how these sites perform moving forward.

I can tell you one thing, Google is all about some identity these days. I’d encourage you to take advantage of the authorship markup Google uses to highlight who is responsible for various content. They’re even starting to include Google+ Circles numbers with it. It’s looking more and more like you ought to be taking full advantage of Google+ if you want to do better in search.

Google Panda Update: New Winners and Losers
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  • GiveSuccess

    It may hurt big time to get away from Google but it not worth the stress and overtime it takes to make them happy. I am just going to try to replace the traffic with other sources. Any site I make from now on will not have anything google w/it, no stats, sitemap, or the like. There are far more better way to get the traffic i need.
    Imo Google has become a “suggetion” engine not a search engine. They only suggest what i$ good for them.

    • http://www.PlacesToEatOkay.com Steven

      GiveSuccess,

      Site maps aren’t just for Google you know. Nor is most of the SEO work that’s done for a website.

      But I see your point in trying to cater to Google’s algorithm.
      We’ve actually never done that. We’ve focused on our content and design, and pretty much gave the finger to all the search engines for years and years. We also used to rank organically pretty well until Panda. We still do for Bing and Yahoo, but due to the volume of searches that are done on Google, Bing and Yahoo never really sent us much traffic in comparison, but our numbers are slightly up from them, due to more and more people switching from Google to Bing and Yahoo.

      I also agree that Google has become a suggestion engine and not a real search engine. What started out as a good idea turned into a mess. Google came out with that blocking tool, so you could block certain sites from your search results. I thought that was a great idea, but they used it as a signal to tell them if the Panda algorithm change was positive or negative. What does blocking a site you’re fed up with have to do with Panda ranking it lower? Every single time Google makes a change, it does something it did not intend to do. They act like it’s collateral damage that could not be avoided. They say they test these changes before they release them to the public, but if they really do, then they’re not spending enough time looking over the results. 500+ Algorithm tweaks a year, while impressive, tells me that Google simply does not spend enough time testing to make sure it’s an actual improvement. They talk like they do, but with so many changes they are making to just the algorithm (not even counting design changes), I just find it hard to believe they can actually have any sort of real quality testing going on.

      Nobody on the planet makes as many changes to a product as Google does, so much so that there has to be such a backlog of testing data to go over. It’s one thing to make improvements and take the time to really test them to make sure they’re correct and not doing something unintentional.

      Google has set high standards for website publishers, while not being able to reach those high standards itself. Google fails yet again and the worst part is they don’t even see it.

      • Gwenn

        Steven,

        I totally agree with you. I have two websites. One is a store and one is an information website with a large forum.

        Because I write all original content, neither site was affected too badly by Panda. But Google complains all the time about the forum (crawl errors which are beyond my control).

        I have tried to do everything right and play by the rules, but I’m sick and tired of pandering to Google. Instead of calling their update Panda, they should call it PANDER. As a merchant who submits a feed to them, it is exhausting. Every time you turn around, they come out with new product feed requirements, some which are extremely time-consuming. Recently they required UPCs or MPNs for all products, and size/color for all apparel. I believe the reason they ask for this is to power their awful new Google Related tool which is in the Google toolbar.

        When I look at our analytics, I see that most of our search traffic comes from Google, followed by the other engines. So while I loathe having to play their games, I am forced to comply if I want to keep up my traffic and sales.

        Google has entirely too much power over merchants and other websites. One day perhaps the FTC will investigate this. In the meantime, we are left struggling with a double-edged sword: the big bad search engine which, unfortunately, brings us most of our sales.

        • Gwenn

          By the way, I want to add that both of my websites have been around for more than 10 years, so I’m not a new player to this game.

          I know of other merchants — nice people just trying to make an honest living by running online stores — whose livelihood has been totally crushed by Google’s “update” bravado. These are people who run very small businesses and aren’t SEO experts and can’t afford to hire someone to fix what has suddenly become “broken” in Google’s eyes. In this bad economy, Google doing this sort of stuff only hurts honest people. Their motto is “don’t be evil.” I find that incredibly ironic. In the mean time, plenty of crap sites still make it into the top 5 search positions.

  • http://www.machinetooldirect.co.uk Paul Jones

    I am puzzled by a lot of these Panda updates. I am the managing director of a web business which provides daily updates on the best news and deals available on the UK market for engineering equipment. We are hugely popular website amongst engineers and our site is such a useful tool however google seems to want to penalise us on every update and put very, very poor sites ahead of us. I think Panda is bad for business, really, really bad websites are appearing at the top of SERPS just because they have longevity or are not regulary updated. I am disapointed as 1 year ago I thought google was a great search tool, now , im not so sure.

    • http://www.PlacesToEatOkay.com Steven

      You can’t say that your sites are ranking lower and that’s the reason why you don’t think Google is that good anymore. It would be as biased as what Google is doing by favoring it’s own sites by ranking them higher than other sites. I used to use Google as my primary search because I thought it’s layout was less pushy and more inviting, and I still do, but I find when I’m looking for something, Bing and Yahoo have more relevant results. I simply cannot believe Google anymore when they claim they do all this testing and research before they launch something when there has been clear evidence that they just don’t get it. Want proof they aren’t getting it anymore? Just look at how many people are moving over to Bing and Yahoo, and giving up on SEO and simply using social networking to drive traffic to their websites. A lot of publishers have found that instead of fighting over search rankings they are actually pulling in more traffic from social networking sites and other sources than to fight with Google and it’s unfair algorithms.

  • http://rhodeislanddivorcemediation.com Mike A

    Could be just me, but lately I have seen a lot more first page results for things like superpages, yelp, craigslist, manta etc. When I see those results, I wonder if Google is telling me it’s too busy to search and rank sites individually. Or maybe it’s just all about the money from the ads on the results page…

    • http://www.FreeGunInfo.com Steven

      Funny how Panda was supposed to take care of things like that, and in fact, in the beginning it did take care of that, and the block tool that people were using to block certain sites told Google it was moving in the right direction with Panda. It was something like over 70%, so meaning that somewhere around 30% of the time Panda wouldn’t have taken care of the problem. They also said it would affect only like 12% of all searches. Funny how most people I talk to that aren’t publishers seem to all say how they hate what Google has done. I haven’t yet come across a search that I’ve done on Google that has not been touched by Panda. If Google said 12% of searches would not be affected, I think most people could believe that.

  • jim

    I had a stie hit by the previous Panda update. Went through and made plenty of changes. 25 september the site came back big time, better than before, then just a few days later on the 29th it disappeared again. fist off everything was ranking in the 40+ range, but now I’m back out of the top 100+

    Does this sound like another Panda attack or something else? Why would I pass the recrawl and have my site bounce back, only to have it drop again? Wouldn’t it make sense just to not let it come back at all?

  • Sumit Rawat

    Thats good news…

  • http://statsvalue.com Attila

    The winners list could be sponsored.Just look at the names.:(

  • http://shopathome.com marc b

    If we wanted to perform this type of SEO visibility analysis on our site….how would we do it?

    Also, I’m not quite sure i understand what the per centage drop means—-if somen shows a 40% drop (-40% above) does that mean 40% fewer impressions on page 1, or some sort of ranking drop or probably both…?

  • http://www.kellysmithmarketing.com Kelly Smith

    I know people are complaining about these updates but Google is looking for the best, relevant content for its “customers”-those who use the site. If a site is just a bunch of rehash from another site then its going to get hit. If they are really just scraper sites and don’t add any value, then they deserve to be punished.

    On the other hand, I am using all sorts of non-internet ways to get people to my customers sites and am not dependent upon any sort of rankings or listings. I am sure that more people will turn to such a system because what Google is doing is a pretty fickle way to do business (even though I don’t blame them as there are thousands of people a day trying to “game” the system). There are too many sites lumped together that don’t deserve such treatment.

    So at the same time I am applauding Big G, I am not relying upon them to do business the way they used to and am using other tactics to get the same, and even better, results. They are wielding too big a hand in the industry and I can’t depend on that. The analogy of too many (or all of your) eggs in one basket works very well here.

  • http://113tidbits.com tonyknuckles @ 113tidbits

    Looks like it takes an awful huge truck of cash and brand visibility to make it to this one..perezhilton?..pfftt!!

  • http://anamikas.hubpages.com Anamika

    I am so happy that HubPages is on the Winners list as it is a Site on which I write a lot. When the first time Panda hit my hub traffic went down drastically but now it has gone up manifold. The sub domain switch was probably the best decision from the HubPages side to restore it’s previous glory.

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