Google’s War Against Spam Goes Way Beyond Panda

The war is long and there are many casualties, but it must be fought

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Google’s War Against Spam Goes Way Beyond Panda
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For all of you webmasters still lamenting over Google’s infamous Panda update, it’s important that you don’t take it personally. You were simply a casualty–correctly or no–in Google’s never-ending war against spam content in its search results.

Google has long been preaching the gospel of quality content, and they are committed to keeping their index as spam-free as possible. Does such knowledge make potential Panda casualties easier to understand? Let us know what you think.

Think of it as collateral damage, those of you who feel you were undeservedly punished. As indicated, Panda is just another in a long line of updates designed to clean the trash out of Google’s search index, and thanks to an awesome infographic from SEO.com, Panda update victims can track the history of the war, one that started in earnest in 2003, which is around the same time Google’s hold over the search engine industry was entering the “iron-clad” stage.

Perhaps the perspective will give them some solace, as well the willingness to be prepared against future Google purges. The infographic in question. It’s a large file–almost 3000 pixels tall even with the size reduction–so be sure to click it for the full version:

Google War
Click to enlarge

While the information contained about each algorithm update is indeed intriguing, the bottom part of the graphic, is even more compelling. It demonstrates just how many content farms were crushed when Panda came rolling through:

Google Tank

Clearly, if Google even gets a hint that a site’s content is suspect–either poor quality or scraped–that site was nuked, er, Panda’d, by the purge, and while there were indeed a number of sites that got caught in the collateral damage crossfire, the infographic clues us in as to why such drastic measures are necessary.

Google’s search index, left unattended, would be a wasteland of spam sites, content farms, and prescription drug outlets.

Furthermore, if your site was one of the unintended victims, reports are, if the necessary corrections/alterations are made, Google will open the doors of its index and allow your site back in.

Some interesting tidbits from the infographic, at least from this perspective:

  • Google makes 400 updates to its algorithm each year, so even if there isn’t a widely-publicized released update with a catchy name, Google is constantly tailoring.
  • There were over three years between the “Big Daddy” update (2006) and “Caffeine” (2009). Before that there were many major updates on a yearly basis. 2003 saw four separate ones, while there were two each in 2004, 5, and 6.
  • Does the extended wait between Big Daddy and Caffeine mean Google was actually satisfied with the quality of their index, save for the minor algorithm tweaks? Whatever the case, this graphic does a great job of informing webmasters about Google’s index-purging ways. It should also be a warning against complacency when it comes to website quality control.

    Was a website you’re responsible for get caught in the Google Panda crossfire? If so, did it change how you approach the concept of on-site content? Do you understand Google’s motivations for spam purges like Panda? Let us know what you think in the comments.

    Google’s War Against Spam Goes Way Beyond Panda
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    • Syndk8

      Until links are no longer the currency by which ranking is primarily determined, Google will continue to lose the war against SERP manipulation. Semantic indexing is a long way off so for the foreseeable future blackhats will still be able to obtain top rankings by utilizing methods that violate Google’s TOS. I think the progress in this area that Google HAS been able to make is the improvements to their content quality scoring system. What I am seeing in the blackhat space is that by placing more value on the content’s relevance, keyword density and quality Google has managed to at least force the hand of many blackhats to improve the quality of their content. This helps to level the playing field (somewhat) for content focused white hats, but really its the users that wins. Spinnable jibberish text with little to no relevance to the search term that used to work, no longer does. This means the blackhat’s money site that a user ends up on, just may actually have relevant and useful information now.

    • http://politicsandfinance.blogspot.com Michael Haltman

      After the Panda update my Alexa ranking went from approximately 270,000 to 400,000. I didn’t change my approach and I am working my way back down, currently at 358,000.

      My PR remained unchanged at 5.


    • http://www.ealtbay.com F Simmons

      Google panda hit and our landing page dissappeared, yet several of our other pages replaced it in the same spot. Due to the nature of our style of site I wonder why any of them have number one placement.

    • http://www.herballypure.com mike khoury

      RE your Google Panda newsletter. Our site http://www.herballypure.com disapeared, even if you type in ( herbally pure ) and even ( herbally pure.com ) it still dosent show up. We havent made any changes and do not understand why we would be deleted. We target the search term ( liquid vitamins ) Any chance we could get your opinion. See anything wrong?? Please Help!! We need guidence for someone reliable. THANK YOU.

      • http://www.bestfreewoodworkingplans.com Jodawg

        When opening up your website it looks like a spam site from the get go. It has “As Seen on TV” and “Buy Now” all over the front page. Also, one thing I’ve run across causing major problems for google listings is video content that plays without the user starting it. That is just from my personal experience and it might be page load times not the video…

        I did a basic unique content search and found hundreds of sites flagging as duplicate content on your home page. I would recommend a new design, and unique content. If you are serious about your product, and you are a legit company, then you need to build your brand name, not your product name. You need to make people want the herballypure brand, not just liquid vitamins.

        Also, when writing unique content, I find it best to NOT sound professional. Adding the “business” flair doesn’t sell to people, they want to feel like they are buying something from their best friend. This also helps keep down the redundant words that people use and can flag your content as spam.

        Just some advice, unfortunately there is no knowing WHY google does what it does, if I or anyone else knew that, we would be a billionaire.

    • Richard

      Panda, and the ethos behind it is good. The way it’s implemented isn’t necessarily so. I run a Website design and development company and much as this link will do me some good, Panda doesn’t. I applaud the idea. However, do any search and around 50% of the first page results do not have ANY of the applicable content on the landing page, nor any others for that matter. I optimise sites, but ONLY when the content is applicable.

      Once Google comes up with an algorithm that works, I’ll praise it. Just look at P1 results to see that it hasn’t accomplished that yet…

    • http://www.cpuoverclockingsoftware.com/ Overclocking

      Yea my website got hit by the update. However like life you adapt and overcome. Any seo guru knows that it is a constant battle to stay on top of search engines. What I have learned though through the years is not to depend strictly on search engines for traffic. There are many outlets online that can bring you good traffic as well.

      • http://www.virtuosolegalmarketing.com Neuro

        +1 It never ends so staying on top is a must. SEO is just one piece of marketing. It’s important to be diverse.

    • http://afiliatemarketingadviser.com Roger

      Fortunately the Panda update did not hit me, but it did affect a lot of people I know.

      I am fairly new to the business but am getting advice from some of the best out there. Good quality, well presented content with properly constructed backlinking is the way to ensure a reliable future business.

      I actually agree with the big G updates. If I do a search I do not want to see a site full of junk. I want the answer I am looking for, not some poor site filled with adsense.


    • http://www.hutaco.com Cho thuê xe du lịch

      ou may use these HTML tags and attributes:

    • http://www.practicalsports.com Camping Dude

      I understand why websites like e-how with their trash should have been penalized, and seems to have finally happened. Some other sites that did not have duplicate content and their content was not spammy really got hurt when they should not have. Smart companies make changes slowly, something Google has not learned yet.

    • http://www.haritalar.web.tr Ugur

      My websites’ search results are now ranked higher then before. Now i have an increase of visitors for about 30 percent.

    • http://www.createmembershipwebsite.com King Ralph

      I think google’s war on spam is a hoax. I have had numerous websites that come up on page 1 of a google search lead to dead links, websites that host malware, or those that were obviously written by article spinners as they were virtually unreadable. So much for content is king. I have found that Bing and Yahoo give better results most of the time.

      • http://www.tuttoirlanda.com Donald

        I am not definately happy with the Serp in Google. I have tried some research and still show at first positions crap tricky websites with low content. So I don’t understand why some professional websites have been penalized intead of those junk. Thanks

    • Jane G

      I notice that a fair amount of my subscribed conservative emails end up in my spam folder. They are easy to find because they are filtered. Ticks me off.

    • http://www.tuttoirlanda.com Donald

      My website offers Italian contents so I am not sure if Panda hit me , therefore its page rank is still the same.
      I have noticed however that 4 months before Panda was released my Pr dropped from 4/10 to 3/10. It might be influenced by a drop of some backlinks.

      Checking out my “competitors” I could see there are still many Italian websites with old content, not updated since 2008, but instead with P.R. up to 4/10. So this means Panda considered only the bad backlinks?
      Also I am just wondering Panda works even in Italian websites.


    • http://www.ageless-beauty.com/ jean

      I understand Google’s motivation, but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less to be “collateral damage”. Post-Panda we’ve discovered and successfully filed DCMA´s against multiple scraper sites. It hasn’t helped much.

      Just this past week, I happened upon something even more egregious. Our anti-aging website has more than 20 articles (mostly responses to reader complaints) about auto-ship scams and “free” trial offers.

      We’ve advised readers what their rights are and to always read the terms and conditions before they order online.

      Pre-Panda, at least 3 of our articles would show up on Google page 1 if you searched with terms like “auto-ship scam” or “autoship ‘company name'”.

      Now, our warnings don’t show up until page 2 or 3 of Google.

      Have you guessed what now shows up on page 1? – The very companies that are perpetrating the scams. They somehow are tricking Google to think they have information about the fraud, when really they are the ones defrauding consumers.

      I am beyond disgusted.

      Trying to step back objectively and survey the whole landscape as a user of internet search engines, I have to say that my search experience as a user of Google is far worse Post-Panda.

      I hope there will be viable alternatives soon. Google has really lost it.

    • http://www.magicdust.com.au Aidan

      Panda targeted web pages with ‘high bounce rates…’? No – that not quite right now is it!

      400 updates in a year is ALMOST one a day? Mmhh, last I checked there were 365 days in a year – has that changed?

      This info does not appear to take Panda recoveries into account, lots of hubpages back in the SERPs now for example…

      • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jonathan

        1.095890410958904 is close to or “almost” 1

        • http://www.magicdust.com.au Aidan

          The point is, it is MORE than one a day – simple math

    • http://www.amiesugat.com Amie

      Yup, there went thousands of “jobs” too though so googles seeming “fix” caused a fallout of economic problems for millions of people who relied on writing content for their meager income. Widespread unemployment rates, homelessness, and starvation is still being felt among the millions who relied heavily on so called “content farms.” Rather than work with these sits to help improve webcontent, google just all but blacklisted entire websites from its results.

    • http://karras-bommer.blogspot.com Karras Bommer

      As a writer I know anyone with any basic computer knowledge can right-click, copy and paste as much of my hard work as they want. What takes them minutes to publish took me hours to write. Go for it, Google! Keep up the fight.

    • Joe P

      Google cannot fight web spam becuase – web spam happens becuase there is adsense money in it for the spammers and google gets a percentage of the loot.

      There are now millions of blog pages posting junk information or scraped information daily these fake “auto bloggers” have no incentive if google do not index their pages. These auto blog / auto content pages are pretty easy to detect through algorithms if google wants they can de-index these auto blogs and auto content pages easily, but they are not doing it.

      Google is not providing solution they are part of the web spam problem!

    • http://www.socialmotus.com Madeline

      We were fortunate that the Panda update didn’t negatively impact our website, though we’ve always been weary of duplicate content on our website.

    • http://www.philippineswebdesign.com Rey

      I have noticed in my searches when looking for content that is up to date i notice Google lists web sites that are from 2002 on the top…granted the site has been around forever but the content that is NEW and Relevant to my search is simply put on the second or third page. Well that may be ok, but when your searching Google for (Updated Flash Embed Code) and get a website from 2002 answering the question, to me that is not relevant. Now my searches have to consist of a date or year to get the up to date content im searching for…

      • http://www.cctvfirst.co.uk/ cctv

        I agree with you. When I searched in Google regarding ‘paid links’ I got few forum threads updated in 2006 and 2007. We should get the latest information when we search for relevant information.

    • http://www.sitetruth.com John Nagle, Silicon Valley, CA

      If you’re willing to take a tough line on spam, you can do much better than Google does. Blekko’s simple anti-spam measures have been quite effective.

      Crowdsourcing is not the answer. “Social” signals are very easy to spam, as Google discovered after using them as a rating input in Google Places. That was the cause of the big decline in search quality last October, and continues to cause problems in specific categories, such as dry cleaners and locksmiths. Citysearch and Yelp are full of obviously phony reviews, and Google+ is catching up in that area. “+1″ votes can be bought cheaply; see any major black hat SEO forum. If Blekko ever gets enough market share to matter, they, too, will be spammed.

      What works is looking at the business behind the web site. If a commercial site (which includes anything with ads) doesn’t have a business address of a real-world business on it, it’s spam. If it does, you can then look at the business for indications of legitimacy.

      Google’s other big problem is determining provenance – where did content originally come from? There’s an attempt to do that in Google’s new tagging system (see “schema.org”) but that, too can be gamed. They need something better in that area. If Google can fix that, it will stop the scrapers.

    • http://www.thewebsitespot.com.au/index.php/SEO.html Nicholas

      Hi Guys, pretty article.

      It’s pretty obvius they target ezines, which have a lot spammy content. My question is where do we post the articles?



    • http://www.madrasi.info/ Lewis

      We run a niche site – a city portal where we spend considerable amount of time poring over printed material and collate authentic content about the Indian city of Madras. We used to rank for many terms associated with education, travel destination and history about this city. Post panda we have been hurt as a collateral damage. Years of hard work has just vanished. We find some scraper sites on the top now who unabashedly scrapped our content verbatim.

      Google has opened a Pandora’s box in this Panda update. In its eagerness to purge its index of spammy sites, it has thrown the baby along with the bath water.

      • http://numus.co.uk jamez

        We run many sites, mostly eCommerce, with around 1.5M downloads and similar products. Although every item is individual and needs its own page, we got seriously hurt. We lost 95% of our income and had to shut down 5 sites. Every sites ranked in Alexa between 8k and 50k we now have 1 that hovers around 80k. Despite spending over £100,000 on site redevelopment, we are still having issues.. and why?? because many of our products have been uploaded to torrent sites, pre panda we out ranked them so it was not too much of a big deal. Post panda there is sometime 20 results all torrent sites, all copies of our software. Google got it wrong and has cost 20 people their lively hoods, and has put money into illegal downloads and copyright theft.

        Seriously torrenting our software is one thing, ranking the sites above us for our own kit, is plain wrong

    • http://soberlivingsearch.com Tom Rees

      Why is every single article I read about panda negative? If someone got penalized, they were obviously not working on building the best website possible, they were more concerned with “how to work the algorithm” game — and until Panda — it was a game.

      I had worked my ass off for two years on my site in the sober living arena, which is very competitive, so naturally there were a bunch of inferior sites that had gamed their way up the list. I would look at these sites and see how thin they were, and there I was stuck at about #14 on page 2 — until panda. then in a few days I jumped to #6 and finally i Had hit the first page. in the months that have followed I have added more content for one of my keywords, and I let the other one slide, because I had 2 positions on the front page for Halfway houses.

      Low and behold, I have worked my way up to #2 on the sober living list, but in the meantime my other two spots 5 and 7 have slipped to page two, so I need to start working on them now. But I am happy as hell about panda. it got rid of a bunch of spammy sites that were separating me from my hard earned goal. hard work pays off, so I am just saying some of us saw a real benefit in Panda, while most talk about it like somehow they got ripped off. Ultimately it makes Google a better service and the internet a higher quality experience, something we should all want.

      • Tim

        Spoken from a true follower and puppet. Ride that wave until the next bs update sir. But mark my words, for every ONE that worked hard to follow all of Googles suggestions and rules around quality content and site structure, there are thousands of others that worked equally as hard only to be on page 3. My site is quality, true quality links, decent structure, and it’s below a freaking craigslist ad. So just wait dude, your time is coming. Google bites!

    • http://www.expertmagentodevelopers.com magento experts

      sometimes google do injustice

    • http://herba.lviv.ua Galina

      Unfortunately innocent punishment is inevitable. Google should care about the purity and truthfulness of the Internet … :( Fight spam would always and will always be consequences. Currently, Google is the very large search engine network, so I understand their actions. I hope in the future Google specialists will improve their cleaning service to suffer less innocent sites.

    • http://Toomany Stef (Googleman)

      I realy do understand the all thing about quality content… The thing i realy do not understand is, as an SEO myself and try to create quality content for Google’s index, when i report spams to Google via there spam report URL, NOTHING, NOTHING happen… Even after many months or over a year, the sites i have reported as spam and know that they are, are still there with 50 and sometimes 200 domain names with the same content… If Google would work with some SEOs and react when we send spam reports… The index would be a lot cleaner…

      Google could and should create a SPAM TEAM REPORT across the world with SEOs and Webmasters…

      Bonne journee !

    • http://www.Treadmill-ratings-reviews.com Fred Waters

      I’ve considered my content second to none in my field. I review treadmills and have worked in the industry for over 14 years. My site has always ranked at the top. After the Panda update a number of low quality sites ranked above me. Their reviews are just a rehash of what is on the manufacturers sites. It appears their ranking success can be attributed to many bogus links on particularly blog sites. So now, rather than focus on writing quality content, which is what Google suggests they want, I spend most of my day trying to get worthless links. This is all very frustrating.

    • Tim

      Google has now officially been removed from our efforts regarding Internet marketing and advertising and successfully so I might add. We are a small company and our phone is ringing at the same rate without Google simply by focusing on Bing and other avenues throughout our local targeted internet marketing….and with much less stress and effort. Google can sovereign their algorithm and holier than thou attitude, well you know where I’m going with that. If you want to hand over control of the entire www to a company like Google then just continue to play this stupid algorithm game with them while they lead you around on a leash like a dog. Otherwise you can step up and grow some, assisting other search engines in growing and providing this BS company with some competition. My customers are even changing search engines and I will continue to get the word out as opportunities arise. Google is definitely not the only game in town bit if you guys keep accommodating their crap they will be and then you will really be screwed and regretting you kept being a puppet for your advertising needs. Our business relies almost entirely on the Internet for advertising and what we’ve learned most by Googles stupid algorythm game is WE DON’T NEED GOOGLE for our business to prosper. The leaders are finding alternatives. The followers are running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off like puppets on a string and if you do get quality placement in Google it will only be until the next Spamda comes along. STUPID.

    • Stephen

      I have found several “mirror” sites, same company, same products, slight tweet in text and I report them to Google, they acknowledge my email and will investigate and do nothing. The King does what it wants in spite of their spam policies.

    • http://www.ahfreedom.com.au ah Freedom

      I for one have seen impressive (and well overdue) results as a result of Panda. Quality content, correct onpage SEO factors and consistent off page factors has helped me get to the top for all my niches

    • http://www.azucofix.com Registry Cleaner

      It is good that Google keep updating. Google’s aim is to serve searchers/surfers and not webmasters. They provide good results for searchers that’s why they are dominating. It up Webmaster to provide quality content for searchers and Google will place them appropriately.

    • http://www.NickBaerGallery.com Nick Baer

      I disagree with the motivation of this article, in its blind support for Panda, or Pummel, or Poo, whatever its nickname is. The bias of the article is pure pandering.

      I have authored and published over 300 photography books. I take the photos, I use InDesign to make the books, I create the .pdfs for the paperback versions, I make the .mobis and .ePubs.

      I can enter as keywords my name (“Nick Baer”), my site (“Nick Baer Gallery” with spaces, not the actual URL of www.NickBaerGallery.com ), and the first four words of 299 of the 300 books (“Male Nude Photography”), and guess what…?

      No me!!!!

      What are common search results? Books.Google.com/ for any of the 300 titles . Do they sell my books?? NO!

      Do they list a dozen scrapers? YES.

      Do they list me?? NO!! (Usually no, somedays I eventually find me).

      Do they list Torrent sites with pirated copies of my .mobis and .epubs from Kindle and Nook? YES!

      I really resent the support in this article for Google’s biased efforts to “punish” the most credible and valid source for consumers to purchase my books – ME!

      I have a sitemap. I have a Google Merchant account, with Google Merchant Feeds for EVERY country. No errors.

      Despicable bias against e-commerce. Despicable bias to distract surfer’s attention away from buying my books.

    • FordAbby

      I just paid $22,87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38,76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $71,32 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, Meta Cent. com

    • http://www.dxout.com hugh williams

      they can have my mail box too. i seem to get tons of spam

    • http://www.emuzicabuna.com special consult

      I need some help from webpronews I am a Brasilian living in Romania
      And am trying to to inform people and to motivate them to report google spam There are thousands of visible spams in the pages title ,description and google does nothing The spamers are in front even after panda new up date ..Another thing google ranks Fb funpages beter than a Youtube video why?

    • http://www.emuzicabuna.com special consult

      I want to encourage people to report google spam in Romania in the first step they have to vote to prove that their state ,city suport google campaign against spam
      In the second step we will select and send for free students from the top 10 regions which suport google campaign in Romania ,to Usa Florida in orlando where theu are going to visit Disneyland ,Universal Studio sea world so an so …For the credibility of this campaign id like google to react as fast as posibile and to take action and to ask them if they have a main office in florida orlando beacause in this campain it would be intresting if the students can visit at least for a couple of hours a google main office With some fhotos from there we can convince peolpe that the campain against spam in Romania is not a jock

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