Google Panda Update: $25,000 Reward If You Can Get This Site Recovered

    July 29, 2011
    Chris Crum

If you’ve been following the Panda saga for a while, you may remember hearing the story about One Way Furniture, a furniture store that was victimized by the Panda update. It got a fair amount of media coverage, including by NPR and the Wall Street Journal. We mentioned them in our first coverage of the DaniWeb story.

“I was sort of a pioneer of selling furniture online,” CEO Mitch Lieberman tells WebProNews. “I first began in 1997 on eBay and we were the first ones selling brand new furniture on that platform. I took the seller name on eBay ‘Furniture’ and we still have that user name to date.”

While DaniWeb has been able to make a full recovery (and then some) from the Panda update, thanks to Google’s latest known tweak, One Way Furniture has not been so lucky. Lieberman tells us that he is offering a $25,000 reward to whoever can get the site to a “sustained, full Panda recovery.”

Perhaps he should talk to DaniWeb’s Dani Horowitz.

“Our site literally got crushed on Panda 1, and each Panda has gotten worse,” he says. “I’m at the point where I don’t have the answers and some of the best in the business have failed to guide us towards a recovery. With that in mind I thought a reward would be the way to go.  Since February 24th I’ve spent most of my time in Google Analytics.”

“I’ve spent millions over the years on AdWords,” he adds. “However, I’m not saying that with a sense of entitlement, because the fact is that Google has been great to us for many years. However, as a paying client I would hope to have some sort of history with the company to where they could guide us to what changes need to be made. We are completely in the dark here.  If you shop at a department store and have a bad experience with one department, are you really going to just shop in a different department in the same store? Google acts as if the SERPS depts., and ADWORDS have nothing to do with each other.”

“As a paying customer to Google I just ask for some respect,” says Lieberman. “A simple 10 minute phone call with a SERPS manager to offer us tips is all we would expect. The highlighted total is almost 3 million spent on Google Adwords since we started with them about 8 years ago. Last year we spent $442,159.69 with them.”

Lieberman expressed that he isn’t trying to be condescending to Google. “I understand they update their algorithms from time to time, I don’t have a problem with that,” he says. “I only have a problem with two things. A) Nuking us overnight without warning as they did. B) Failure to communicate with us what we need to change. I’ve been selling furniture online while Google was starting out their business in 1997!”

“I must state that the idea is for someone hands on to take on this project,” he says. “The goal is give our end user the best possible buying experience on our site. At the same time we want to see those changes get us out of this Panda Penalty. We have made a list of over 30 changes that we have done so far, and also have some other significant changes in the works. Mainly a complete redesign.”

This is what the site looks like currently:

One Way Furniture

Here are some things One Way Furniture has done so far, as it has tried to climb back into Google’s good graces (as explained by Lieberman):

  • Removed verbiage from manufacturers captions on every page. We typically use this area to give a history about the manufacturer we carry. (lowered ratio of similar content on every page)
  • Removed Global Index, Follow.
  • Removed all product descriptions from shopping portals and affiliate program.
  • Took out Mass Comment fields coded in the source across the site
  • Removed, Auto Meta Tag text from every product that was put in about 8 years ago.
  • Deleted most discontinued products (15,000 that built up over 10 years) that were previously left so customers can find a newer product. They are now 404 errors.
  • No Followed Twitter / Facebook Home page links.
  • Removed some links from footer.
  • Added DMCA monitoring of content
  • Reverted back to Old Cross Sell to get products out of google discussions, that seem to have been seen as a forum. A google employee confirmed in webmaster forums there was some issue.
  • Asked Power Reviews to remove dates from reviews.
  • Killed Sub Domain which was a art site that approached us to sell art. Problem was they sold the same art across many other sites. We learned a lesson. Our sub domains are our property and we are on lockdown.
  • Removed site wide links from lowest price guarantee.
  • Content Writers rewriting descriptions. So far over 7,000 have been written. We expect to rewrite every last one.
  • Rewriting some sections descriptions. Many have stolen content (including affiliates so google doesn’t know what is unique anymore)
  • Changed Left NAV to HTML.  Create unique left nav on some section pages like twin beds, full beds, queen, beds, king beds, entertainment furniture, and office furniture section.
  • Follow, No index
  • Increased page speed by changing from RTML to HTML menu.
  • Added Site wide Canonical tags
  • Fixed Java Script error and removed poor coding particularly on left nav.
  • no index, follow 15,000 pages (almost half the site).
  • Removed the repeating name in H1 just below the lowest price guarantee – May 18th
  • Created a supplemental section in TV Stands for non performers. – April 10 – May go site wide with this in the future. Kind of like a supplemental results for poor performers.
  • Started correcting bad characters that converted into question marks because of word format vs excel format. Hundreds of occurrences.
  • Took Out “repeat name” into caption” on section pages.  June 8th.
  • 301 redirect to our main site
  • Going to 301 redirect to in the next few days. We want to focus on our main brand. We did not get this site to trick any engine. We did it because we acquired it from a competitor and it made sense at the time to populate it. 75% of the content on the site was rewritten, but the products were all the same. We now realize its useless to brand ourselves on two brands. We are regaining the focus now.
  • Bedroom-furniture-sets sorted low price to high price (July 12) testing to see if lower prices keep customers more engaged on the site. Previously we sorted by best sellers.
  • Removed site wide (online home furniture store footer link) – July 27
  • Deleted 5,500 discontinued products still remaining in database (july 28)
  • Took out “discount furniture store from logo alt tag)
  • Finishing up a major site redesign (about 2 weeks out). Focusing on bigger text on the left nav, removal of left nave on item pages, and removal of best sellers (right nav) on item pages. Blowing up pictures about twice the size. Shortening up columns from 5 wide to 3 wide on sections. Redesigned a better welcoming home page.
  • So how about that reward? Here’s the criteria One Way Furniture has set:

    A)  At least 85% of organic traffic recovered compared to last year same time.  We will consider it a recovery after 30 days of the data showing the traffic bump.

    B)      Google guidelines must be adhered to 100%.

    C)       Overall bounce rate has to decrease site wide by at least 15%.

    E)      Reward payment will start 90 days following the beginning of “recovery”.

    E)     The 25K will be broken up into 10 payments starting on the 91st day.

    F)      Payments will continue as long as traffic remains within the threshold. If traffic drops during another Panda update the payments will stop, but will continue once the traffic is again restored.

    G)      If they are successful and receive all $25,000 of the reward, at the end of the period we will throw in $2,500 worth of free furniture from any one of these departments: Bar Stools, Bedroom Sets, Dining Rooms, TV Stands, Office Furniture.

    H)     The person that gets us out of Panda will also be in consideration for a possible contract job moving forward. The contract job will not be for an SEO, It will be for a CUO. We think SEO needs to be permanently replaced with this new term “CUO” Consumer Usability Optimization.

    If you’re interested in seeking the $25,000 reward, you can contact the company at


    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.