Have Google’s Results Improved After 3 Years Of Panda?

By: Chris Crum - February 24, 2014

Monday marked the three-year anniversary of the day Google first announced the controversial Panda update. So much has happened since then. So many sites have felt the effects.

Has your site been affected by the Panda update at anytime over the past three years? If you were negatively impacted, were you able to recover? Did the update cause you to take steps to “Google-proof” your business? Let us know in the comments.

To celebrate the occasion, let’s revisit what Google actually said in the original announcement. Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal wrote:

Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.

Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.

It’s worth noting that this update does not rely on the feedback we’ve received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which we launched last week. However, we did compare the Blocklist data we gathered with the sites identified by our algorithm, and we were very pleased that the preferences our users expressed by using the extension are well represented. If you take the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension, then this algorithmic change addresses 84% of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the user benefits.

So, we’re very excited about this new ranking improvement because we believe it’s a big step in the right direction of helping people find ever higher quality in our results. We’ve been tackling these issues for more than a year, and working on this specific change for the past few months. And we’re working on many more updates that we believe will substantially improve the quality of the pages in our results.

You’ll notice that Google never mentioned the word Panda. If you’ll recall, nobody knew that was the name of it until a Wired interview with Cutts and Singhal. People had been calling it the “farmer” update because of its apparent purpose of penalizing low-quality content farms.

Here’s an interesting quote from Singhal from that interview, which some may have forgotten. It was Caffeine that enabled sites to really take advantage of Google in the way that called for the Panda update in the first place:

So we did Caffeine [a major update that improved Google’s indexing process] in late 2009. Our index grew so quickly, and we were just crawling at a much faster speed. When that happened, we basically got a lot of good fresh content, and some not so good. The problem had shifted from random gibberish, which the spam team had nicely taken care of, into somewhat more like written prose. But the content was shallow.

Singhal also said recognizing a shallow-content site and defining low quality content was “a very, very hard problem that we haven’t solved.”

He said solving the problem would be an ongoing evolution. How has it evolved after three years? Has it really gotten better at determining what is high quality?

Well, at least the eHow toilet specialist that used to rank at the top for “level 4 brain cancer” is no longer on the first page. Whether or not Google’s results in general have improved significantly is debatable.

At least Google gave some guidelines for what it viewed as quality after a few months. These came in the form of a list of questions for webmasters to ask themselves about their content as guidance on how Google had been looking at the issue.

“One other specific piece of guidance we’ve offered is that low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings, and thus removing low quality pages, merging or improving the content of individual shallow pages into more useful pages, or moving low quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher-quality content,” Singhal wrote.

Since that first Panda update rolled out, Google has launched roughly 25 Panda refreshes and updates. Barry Schwartz has a numbered list with approximate dates. The most recent listed one was last March, but that’s because Google stopped confirming every time they launch one when it became a rolling update. The company did randomly confirm one in July – a “softer” version that was “more finely targeted”.

A couple months prior, Cutts said, “We’ve also been looking at Panda, and seeing if we can find some additional signals (and we think we’ve got some) to help refine things for the sites that are kind of in the border zone – in the gray area a little bit. And so if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have some additional signals of quality, then that will help sites that have previously been affected (to some degree) by Panda.”

In some of the most recent Panda guidance Google has offered, Cutts explained in a video back in September (around the time Google announced its biggest overhaul since Caffeine), “It used to be that roughly every month or so we would have a new update, where you’d say, okay there’s something new – there’s a launch. We’ve got new data. Let’s refresh the data. It had gotten to the point, where Panda – the changes were getting smaller, they were more incremental, we had pretty good signals, we had pretty much gotten the low-hanging winds, so there weren’t a lot of really big changes going on with the latest Panda changes. And we said lets go ahead and rather than have it be a discreet data push that is something that happens every month or so at its own time, and we refresh the data, let’s just go ahead and integrate it into indexing.”

He added, “And so if you think you might be affected by Panda, the overriding kind of goal is to try to make sure that you have high-quality content – the sort of content that people really enjoy, that’s compelling – the sort of thing that they’ll love to read that you might see in a magazine or in a book, and that people would refer back to or send friends to – those sorts of things.”

“That would be the overriding goal, and since Panda is now integrated with indexing, that remains the goal of entire indexing system,” he said. “So, if your’e not ranking as highly as you were in the past, overall, it’s always a good idea to think about, ‘Okay, can I look at the quality of the content on my site? Is there stuff that’s derivative or scraped or duplicate or just not as useful, or can I come up with something original that people will really enjoy, and those kinds of things tend to be a little more likely to rank higher in our rankings.”

So in other words, while Google has altered how it implements Panda, not much has changed over the years in terms of what it’s trying to do.

The update continues to influence how content is created. Businesses (like Mahalo – now Inside) are now going for Google-proof strategies, looking for ways to create content that Google can’t touch with its algorithm. Rap Genius, recently (and briefly) penalized by Google, is another example. These companies are going the mobile app route.

In recent months, content producers have faced a similar obstacle from a much different traffic source. Facebook made changes to its News Feed algorithm in December that have been described as the social network’s version of the Panda update. It too is supposed to promote high-quality content, though its signals for determining what actually is high-quality leave a lot to be desired.

So, how has Google done with Panda? Has it accomplished its goals? Have search results improved as a result of the update? After three years, have the deserving sites won the better rankings? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image via YouTube

About the Author

Chris CrumChris 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.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • SamerKurdi

    A good analogy that I use to explain Panda to laymen (when they are puzzled that my content on my site has been penalized) is that it is like chemotherapy: intended to kill ‘spammy’ sites, it has taken a lot of good sites down as well, especially organically grown sites that don’t have a big brand.

    But even so, has it made for better search results? I don’t think so. I just did a search on a couple of keywords that I know really well, that used to give me traffic, and I think the results are simply not very good. Acceptable, perhaps, but the searcher seems to be served the same sort of thing in all 10 results, without much variety. Perhaps Google think this is quality; I think not.

    • JH

      Almost ANY product search is now dominated by all the big companies… So it certainly has helped them….This is something Google said would happen if we didn’t stop things like SOPA…They ended up doing it on their own. What happened to the level playing field Google promised? Happy that I am here in Kansas joining with others to limit Google expansion concerning their hub. They lie and can’t be trusted.

      • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

        They only fought against SOPA and other ideas like that because they wanted the power and control to promote their business partners and their advertisers without a gov mandate.

        It was a good way to continue to give the impression of a nice and fluffy corporation that “cares”, when in actual fact it was a well-calculated PR stunt.

        • JH

          Exactly….agree. I am not some anti corporate kind of guy. There are many that do business in a fair way. Google isn’t one of them.

          • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

            I am somewhat of an anti corporate guy, but some are more ruthless and and greedy than others. For example, Virgin is one of the corporations I would trust, because it’s moral, it’s ethical and Branson does a lot of work for charity.

            Google, on the other hand, is one of the worst. It likes to portray itself as some kind of “caring” corporation (with their line of “don’t be evil”) but its actions against millions of small businesses are completely evil.

            They have the fate of millions of people in their hands, and they are allowed to manipulate and control the fates and livelihoods of far too many. With the touch of a button Google could destroy millions of people’s income in a day. NO corporation on the planet should have that kind of power.

          • Northstar702

            When you put the fate of your income in the hands of a private search company then you should know that your assets are undiversified and that there’s a risk you’ll suffer. I don’t see why it’s Google’s responsibility to promote upstart businesses. It’s reason for being is to provide the most relevant search results to users, influenced by SEO shenanigans to the least extent.

          • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

            You say this like we have a choice.

            Google has dominated the internet, destroying competition.

            Do you recall what the internet was before Google came along? Perhaps you’re not old enough to remember, but there were thousands of directories listing companies that would be useful for people looking for a particular product or service, and what did Google make its priority once it had a foothold? Destroying all of those directories and labeling them as “dangerous” and “spammy”.

            Google actively went after the only competition the moment it could, trashing what we once all used and therefore securing its own domination of the internet and giving us absolutely no other choice in the matter.

            Google now dictates what businesses can survive, how they should operate, how sites should be created and managed… this is not an elected body, this is a private corporation with a need to make profit, it CANNOT be trusted to “police” the internet through self-appointed authority.

            Like I said, if we had a choice about this, and if Google didn’t actively work to destroy competition, then we wouldn’t have an argument. The fact is Google HAS wiped out the competition, it HAS used its own rules and assertions to minimize directories and information sites, and it CONTINUES to attack other sources of information in attempt to gain complete control over internet traffic.

            I expect there to be plenty of cheer-leaders for Google coming along to preach dismay at the notion of “all-holy Google” facing criticism, but much of the defense of Google is clearly nonsense that anyone with any intelligence can see.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    I think Google definitely used Panda to take out mass submission sites that were just full of junk, so in that case it helped. But are the SERPs head and shoulders above where they would have been otherwise…I don’t know for sure.

  • Steve Gardner

    It used to be relevancy was what Google wanted. Now it’s content. “Good backlinks” is the new norm in determining relevancy. They have there head up their ass. There is more crap on the first page since Panda/Penquin.

  • HubUK

    My site which got hit (UK based) in April 2011 never did recover, even though I attended a Google seminar in the June where they told me I had nothing to worry about. That seminar was what probably wound me up the most in that they lied which led to me wasting twelve months trying to turn everything around.

    There were a lot of big recipe and cooking web sites like mine, both in the USA and the UK, which had been Google success stories, that got hit and none have ever recovered. I still carry on with the site because it was a personal hobby which gave a lot of people pleasure but I have accepted the glory days are gone. Thanks Google for another life wrecked!

    As for Google results in general I find them no better than they were before Panda and dare I say less interesting.

    My site still ranks well on Yahoo and Bing but I think Google has become all powerful and don’t see it going the way of early search engine successes. Anyone remember Alta Vista?

    • http://www.skinnbeautycare.com/ Bindal

      During the last 2 months my website traffic from Google has come down to 2% approximately whereas direct traffic and traffic from bing and yahoo remains the same or in better side. There is no adverse comment in webmaster Googletools and I have not beem able to find the reason.

      • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

        Join the club. It seems that most webmasters and business owners end up spending months out of every year desperately trying to find out what Google doesn’t like about their site, and because Google likes to be a big mafia boss man there is no chance to find out.

        Abandon Google, focus on creating good content and get the increasing traffic from Bing and Yahoo. From my experience they are growing, as more and more people abandon Google because of their seemingly corrupt corporate ways.

        • http://www.skinnbeautycare.com/ Bindal

          In India Bing and Yahoo are not much popular for searching the information. During last few weeks I have found at Google that if we search even for govt offics address and phone numbers, we find the results for agents with their phone number and address for services instead of direct number of govt office. In case we find the required details after searching 2-3 pages we find the wrong information as either offices has already been shifted from there or phone numbers have been changed.
          During the last two months I have added more than 30 articles of more than 500 words (web pages) but at appears Google ignore the contents also.

          • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

            Link building is the answer. Ignore all the nonsense Google tells you about “natural linking” – they cannot possibly tell the difference.

  • Label diva

    Google has devastated our family business. If not for loyal customers we would be closing our doors now. We are completely e-commerce, not brick and mortar and without telling us why, after ten years we dropped from page 1 positions 1 to 3 for top keywords, to page 4. If Google would offer help or explanations that would be one thing, but they tell us we have to figure it out. How many small businesses have the resources to do that and still run the business? Shame on Google. They are killing the backbone of America.

    • SMWDBA

      I agree! They are killing small business. Almost all of our websites went from page 1 to page 3, 4 or more. We did no black hat SEO. The search results are dramatically worse for our key phrases.

  • Steve

    Panda wasn’t as bad as the changes regarding link penalties. From Google: “Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.” But by penalizing sites for incoming links they explicitly throw aside that goal in favor of punishing sites for not helping them with their algorithm. After all, a site that is most relevant does not become less so because of the links that point to it, nor does the potential user know or care about what is NOT ON THE SITE. So in the case of such penalties (and they must exists or there would be no need for a disavowal tool), Google is clearly saying that their own internal goals are more important than giving “the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.”

  • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

    Simple answer, no!

    I use Bing these days, because I am sick and tired of searching for something on Google and being bombarded by rubbish, Google-partner sites and advertisers. I don’t need three paid ads, a Wiki entry, a YouTube video, an essay and ten spam sites with shallow content every time I search for something. I found that I had to go to page five or even ten to find the actual content I was looking for.

    As for business efforts, Google abandoned me a long time ago, and I it. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I work to make my site and content unique and original, Google still promotes its ADVERTISERS and black-hat users in organic results over my pages.

    I can write twenty 1000 word articles on something, publish them all over a week, and Google will “reward me” by knocking my position BACK a page!

    In contrast, those who spam their links, pay for Google ads, and use every black-hat method in the book are given top ranking with shallow page content and minimal information on products.

    Google can suck my plums. I’m working with Bing these days. I would rather produce great content and useful information and get position one in Bing for ten hits a day, than waste my time trying to second-guess Google every week and still end up on page ten, getting five hits a day.

  • Jonno

    Search results have not improved. We specialise in certain areas with a wide range of items for our customers to view, yet these big websites with big budgets who have a couple of posts or items for sale get a top ranking. I’ve stopped even trying to understand google SEO. Not much point anyway as sponsored ads are always above you even with a top ranking, and guess what – open a sponsored ad and it opens in the same window, effectively the visitors search has finished with google.

  • Expopet

    The only ones that have benefited from any of the last three updates has been Amazon, Ebay and Sears.

  • Robert

    My site was KILLED, my sales(?) don’t even cover my host fees . I removed all my business niche affiliate links that was a good source of commissions. From the beginning made sure I didn’t link with idiot sites aka non-related to my business niche.

    As for paying for SEO services why ? That would be another bottomless pit IMHO, they’ll never be able to keep up with every freaking change.

    However, I have learned that if you sell your house, hand over your Credit Card, Bank Account and to Google for Adwords you can get more traffic . More sales ehh not really but you get more traffic “HOW COOL IS THAT !!!” .
    I really don’t give a Rats A$$ anymore.

  • SUNJEN

    Years ago after long hard work my site had 1st and 2nd page search results. No blackhat or tricky things. Over 1.6m visits a month. Had to go dedicated server to cope with traffic. Since the updates my search results went to the slums, lost 90% of traffic. I tried seo improvements, nothing. Saw most of Matt Cutts videos answering questions and giving tips. Seems the most common answer he gave was ” ehh I wouldn’t be to worried about it….” Well no, you are Google so what the f*ck.

    I need to go back to shared hosting now, because no more $ coming in. I should’ve sold the bugger back then 😉

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      I gave up listening to Matt Cutts, he never has any solutions, never actually tells people what they need to know, it’s always “shouldn’t happen” and “should be okay”. The fact that it “does happen” and it’s “not okay” is never given a second thought by this corporation.

      When you compare this to a physical business, what Google is effectively doing is putting up a roadblock in the street, and telling people where to shop based on their own company opinions of our businesses. They are controlling the arrival of customers based on their own needs and wants. If Google was transferred to the physical world it would be a criminal act.

  • VerticalMarketing.Co

    With all honesty, I have always seen Panda, Hummingbird and
    all the other sidekicks of GoogleBot as income generating tools for Google to
    increase their income. I find it fascinating that all this projects cane about at
    a point when many in the stock market started raising questions about Google’s
    growth moving forward about 4 years ago.

    The question was – Has Google’s Results Improved after 3
    Years of Panda. That is a definite NO.

  • http://www.enviroequipment.com Enviro Equipment, Inc.

    We do a lot of searches, using Google for our business and in general, we feel that the search results have noticeably improved. It’s rare to find a genuinely and openly spammy site in Google’s first page of its SERPs.

  • JayOh

    I use Google for a wide variety of searches and I have certainly noticed an escalating lack of relevance in the results. Nowadays I rarely find what I am looking for on the first page of results and often three and four pages in. The first page is full of little more than big brands selling exactly the same low quality products which often have absolutely no bearing on the search terms that I have used.

    From a business stand point, I get my best results, within Google, through directories with both ‘paid for’ and ‘free listings’ performing more or less on a par with each other.

    So, no I don’t think Google has improved the relevancy of its search results. Further more, I think Google has let greed and arrogance rule and will ultimately pay the price. It won’t be quick but, unless they get their act together, the end will come.

  • http://www.admain.co.uk AdMain

    Big company domination. I see it in a few sectors, all th SME’s have dropped out o the catchment area in natural search ad replaced by national or international companies. I’ve actually launched a site for a client, it had one back link and pages and pages of unique well written content.

    Penalised for a link that was now none existent and set up by a previous owner of the domain over 4 years before the penalty.

    We even told the manual penlty person that the link was older than the actual owning o the domain, and three months later the site hasn’t come back.

    Anyway, are Google’s results better. No, Bing currently has better results.

    Even car insurance results in the UK are now dominated by “Google Car insurance”.

    Abusing their own power.

    Google has orgotted the key element that made them successful and that was nice clean results. Sponsored results were clearly a differnt colour, not just a diferent shade of white.

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      “Google has orgotted the key element that made them successful and that was nice clean results.”

      Another thing that made Google the market leader was the involvement and support of webmasters. Google would not be in the position it now is if had not created website analytics and webmaster tools. They wooed the internet with new and interesting ways to get traffic, and then they became too powerful and abusive.

      It started out as a partnership, and now Google has become an abusive spouse to many who were in that relationship from the start.

      The biggest mistake Google has made in the last ten years is abusing the webmasters who got it to where it is. By attacking and disenfranchising so many millions of webmasters who helped to get it where it is, they have significantly damaged their reputation.

      I have seen so many webmasters now rejecting Google entirely, I can say with some confidence that the corporation only has the support from a small minority of webmasters and a large majority of a public who don’t know what Google has done.

      Google has lost the support and respect of millions of webmasters around the world, and it’s only going to assist in its eventual downfall as more and more alternative traffic sources are developed.

  • http://www.shoot1stphotography.co.uk Sean Matthews

    Personally every search I make returns Amazon or John Lewis….Maybe you could do away with Google and just let Amazon and the rest produce their own search engines..which would return Amazon and John Lewis..bring back smaller more interesting companies

  • gimpy2585

    In my market and keywords Google now gives the best rankings to sites paying them the big money for Adwords. The same sites that are ranked high in search now have Adwords ads right above them. You scratch my back I scratch yours.
    If your view of good results is less competition and higher profits for Google, then Google got exactly what it was looking for. Why split profits off Adsense with webmasters when Google can drown them out and bring in more Adword’s profits.

  • Mark Lamendola

    Anyone who does any sort of comparison between Google and a good search engine can see that Google really stinks as a search engine now. It’s not just that they serve up lame sites (those that lack content and thus don’t make Panda mistakes) that formerly had no chance of ranking, but the whole user experience is bad because of the spammy practices Google does but tells others not to do.

    That is well documented by many other people in other postings in this very forum.

    On the Penguin side, It’s worth noting that Webmaster Tools shows incoming links that have been dead for over a year and which we have reported several dozen times to Google. They like having dead links, because those bloat out the reported size of their index. So remove the inbound spam and see if Google rewards you–nope. Same problem with blogspot and diigo spam, which Google simply refuses to remove even after 18 months of reporting each of those spam URLs a few times each week.

    Since both Panda and Penguin are a big FAIL, what are we to think about Google’s real intentions? Improving organic search results is not even a consideration; if it were, Google would have executed Panda differently and would ensure that Penguin is working from valid data instead of the grossly outdated and inaccurate data it works from now.

    Since Google does not care about organic search or the businesses that depend on it, our response must be to make Google as irrelevant to everything as possible. Not just to our business models, but to everything. They have proven they cannot be trusted, and they have done so in the extreme.

  • Michele

    The Panda updated killed my site and my livelihood. I will admit and am quite bitter about it. I followed the rules from the beginning and was never did any of the underhanded things they told us not to do. Then one day, I was slammed by the update and never recovered. After trying for a year to gain back ground (and I did somewhat for specific keywords), I dropped 80% in revenue and actually shut down the site in November 2013 in favor of going back to a corporate career.

    I had a very niche market site. I hate the fact they want “fresh content”. “Make it interesting, like a magazine”. You know, in some cases, it just doesn’t make sense for the market and or product. Rank me on my merits and what my site actually sells, not the “fluff” I can fill it with. I have a very unique product that fits a very specific need. People search for it specifically, I used to be ranked #1…where there could find EXACTLY what they searched for. No gimmicks, no fluff. Now, I rank below mass merchants who clearly don’t specialize in what I do. I sell product for proms and weddings and therefore do not have a massive repeat customer base.

    The update changed not only my site but my entire way-of-life. I ran a business from my home that allowed me to stay home and raise my kids. Without that income, I was forced back into a full-time job and now I’m am not able to be there for my kids and do as much for them as before. I tried to figure out how to fix it. I spent thousands of dollars on consultants and SEO experts to help me recover but still couldn’t.

    I have temporarily re-opened my site for what used to be my key season ($18K in April Sales is now expected to be a mere $4K this year). I used to have 400-500 visits to my site per day. Now, I’m lucky if I get 70. I’m ranked in the top positions for Bing and Yahoo but 65% of my traffic is still from Google. To say I’m bitter is an understatement. Will I ever recover? I just cannot wait to see. I had to move on.

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      This is what angers me the most about Google. They have been allowed to become an omnipotent force around the world, with the careers, businesses and livelihoods of millions of people in their hands. It’s not right and it’s not ethical or moral.

      I mentioned it before, but it’s a good analogy that should be mentioned again… transferring what Google does to the real world is a frightening prospect. Can you imagine owning a shop on a high-street and seeing trucks pull up in the street outside, blocking off your entrance and directing shoppers around you to the companies that pay off that gang? This is what Google does, this is its business. It looks at what you sell, looks at your shopfront, browses your premises and tells you how to present your goods, how to talk to customers and how to run your business, and if you reject those demands they brick up your front door and send your shoppers to someone who pays them and obeys them.

      No one would accept this in the real world, but here we are accepting it on the internet.

  • Marawa

    Well Panda is one big smoke screen, nothing happend only the big ( google friends ) companies got all the rankings, and in smaller countries like the Netherlands, hardly anything changed, i think Google does not really care about small and Medium webmasters allot of blabla, impossible to contact them for spam reporting, What happend to the Nice Google from 7 years ago?? it is all about the money now!! shame on you Google and Mr Cuts!

  • bobnc57

    My business was severely impacted and did not recover. I concur with others who say the larger companies seemed to have benefited the most.

  • Joe

    Samer:

    Great analogy. Since 2009, the chemotherapy has nearly killed the patient. Google’s attempt to kill SPAM sites seems to have completely ignored all folks who run legitimate businesses and the negative impact/destruction they are incidentally imposing. Either that, or like Obamacare, the patient would lose the good results he had and now gets called on by Google Adwords to extract a fortune for poor results. They called me once and told me that they were doing all of us a favor. They were doing this Adwords money extraction from us to eliminate bad or spam sellers from the formerly free shopping listings. Now, we had the “opportunity” to buy Adwords just to get the free shopping listings. We knew we had to try it. And we lost our butts on the attempt and shelved the effort before it killed us. SEO killed us too, as Panda made everything we had previously done a negative. And now we can no longer afford to hire a new SEO company to fix it. And if we did, who’s to say the “fix” wouldn’t fail in 3-6 months anyhow? Our traffic was once quite robust. Now, our best performing products gain no more than 30-40 clicks a day… on a good day. Pre-July 2009, we had AT LEAST triple that amount. We terminated all of our part-timers when Obama got re-elected. And thank God we did. That Christmas (two Christmases ago) was horrid. We had no trouble keeping up. This Christmas was better. But we were still able to keep up. Nothing like 2005-2008 in sight. With health care premiums and deductibles skyrocketing, the amount of disposable household income is plummeting, which we feel will terminate any semblance of a real economic recovery. And with Google destroying our traffic, even if there was a soft recovery, I’m not sure we’d see any of it.

  • Matt

    NO. They still suck.

  • http://www.fsequence-studio.com Deacon Tyler

    Google updates are like the death penalty. On the one hand, it’s a good thing – get dangerous criminals off the streets, save taxpayer dollars, ultimate punishment, blah blah blah.

    But no system is perfect and when you hear about an innocent person put to death, it gives you pause and makes you think “my God, the executioners just murdered an innocent person, how can they live with themselves, etc”.

    When you think about the number of ‘good’, rule abiding sites that have been crushed by Google updates (I’m going to say 5%ish), it puts a fine point on how bad these sort of blanket punishment algorithm updates really are.

    Worse still is that there is no way to appeal an algorithm penalty and often no recovery in sight.

    My own site was surprisingly hit by Penguin 2.1 (but oddly enough not by 2.0) and never recovered. While the site specializes in commercial photography, I’ve always tried to make each blog post and page interesting and informative.

    My only saving grace came in the form of Google local. After it became apparent that we were never going to recover, we put our effort into local and it’s paid off, but there’s a fear that one day Google will decide to make some new change and ditch the local results altogether. It all feels very tenuous and unfair.

  • Miller Time

    My site dropped like a rock in Feb 2011. After that I pretty much abandoned ship hoping Google would get it sorted out. About 3 weeks ago I’ve begun starting to try and panda proof my site. I made a lot of mistakes; I wasn’t 100% “white hat”, I sometimes posted duplicate and filler content because some days I felt lazy, but most of my content was unique and really cool!

    After Panda, I figured my site would prevail eventually because it was one of the top brands in my niche and have about $90k invested in branding and SEO work.

    Despite losing 3500 daily visitors, my site still gets 400+ per day from other sources such as facebook, twitter, wikipedia, blogs, forums, and shared emails… and I haven’t added any content in about 2 years. I’m just draining whatever revenue I can get out of it at this point, which is only about $300/month.

    I got a hair up my butt a few weeks ago and thought I’d try to get my site out of Panda, but I often wonder if I’m wasting my time or if I should start over from scratch on a new domain.

    I have not read many success stories of anyone getting out of Panda. I think once you’re in, you’re done.