Is Google’s Panda Update Helping Small Businesses?

By: Chris Crum - May 28, 2014

Early last week, Google pushed out a couple of big algorithm updates: a new version of the so-called “Payday Loans” update and a new generation of the famous/infamous Panda update. Google has been talking up the latter for a while, saying that it would benefit smaller sites and businesses, and be gentler overall. Has it lived up to this promise?

Are you a small business affected by Google’s Panda update? How has it impacted your site? Let us know in the comments.

Google’s Matt Cutts spoke at the Search Marketing Expo in March, saying that Google was working on the “next generation” of Panda, which would be softer and more friendly to small sites and businesses. Barry Scwhartz, who was in attendance recapped what he said:

Cutts explained that this new Panda update should have a direct impact on helping small businesses do better.

One Googler on his team is specifically working on ways to help small web sites and businesses do better in the Google search results. This next generation update to Panda is one specific algorithmic change that should have a positive impact on the smaller businesses.

Interestingly, we do seem to be seeing more people claiming they’ve done well with the latest Panda update compared to past updates. If it’s really helping sites this much, that bodes well for the future, because it looks like whatever Google has done with Panda will be carried forward for the foreseeable future.



PerformanceIN says it’s helping smaller affiliate sites. Sylvia Nankivell writes:

In the past, Google’s updates may have felt somewhat unjust to some smaller affiliate sites, and there has been much talk of the magical protection of the big brand. I have heard complaints from affiliates with pages of in-depth, rich content, losing out to big brands with a page containing only a short sentence on it.

Perhaps this new Panda 4.0 update is in response to these sorts of complaints. It seems that now, big name brands, as well as the smaller businesses, need to consider how information rich all of their pages and directories are. If they don’t, then they are in danger of joining the Panda 4 ‘losers list’.

We haven’t heard about any planned layoffs from the latest update yet, which is a good sign (though we recently heard about layoffs from an update that took place over a year and a half ago).

Some sites seem to be making recoveries with Panda 4.0 after being hit by previous Panda updates.

One of our readers commented this week, “My site was hit by the first ever Panda update and only just recovered from last week’s update. So this weaker Panda is confusing..is my content weak but you’re letting me off or was the algo wrong on the first place?”

In case you missed it, SearchMetrics recently put out is obligatory Panda winners and losers lists for 4.0. These things are never a hundred percent accurate, but they do give you an idea of some sites that saw significant movement when the update was rolled out. eBay was among the top losers, but that ended up being a manual penalty rather than Panda, apparently.

Named winners include Glassdoor.com, emediinehealth.com, medterms.com, yourdictionary.com, shopstyle.com, zimbio.com, myrecipes.com, couponcabin.com, buzzfeed.com, consumeraffairs.com, wordpress.com, thinkexist.com, onhealth.com, alternativeto.net, whosdatedwho.com, reverso.net, wikimedia.org, dogtime.com, findthebest.com, eatingwell.com, quotegarden.com, goodhousekeeping.com, everydayhealth.com, simplyhired.com, momswhothink.com, similarsites.com, southernliving.com, theknot.com, allaboutvision.com, openculture.com, babyzone.com, tasteofhome.com, gotquestions.org, movie4k.to, wmagazine.com, ycharts.com, historyplace.com, rcn.com, salary.com, skpdic.com, mediawiki.org, oodle.com, abbreviations.com, homes.com, spokeo.com, hlntv.com, sparkpeople.com, hayneedle.com, and emedtv.com.

It’s a pretty interesting range of types of sites. It’s good to know that BuzzFeed has won not only the Facebook Panda update but also the Google Panda update.

Search Engine Roundtable recently ran a poll asking how Panda 4.0 impacted readers’ sites. Over 1,200 people responded. Over 15% said they had recovered from a previous Panda penalty. Over 19% said their rankings increased, but that they were never hurt by Panda. Over 23% said their rankings remained the same, but they were never previously hurt by Panda. Nearly 27% said they were never previously hurt by Panda, but saw their rankings decrease this time. About 11% said they didn’t recover from a previous Panda penalty.

The poll doesn’t take into account business size, but it’s probably safe to assume that a good amount of those who participated are from or represent small businesses.

Do you think Panda 4.0 is good for small sites? Let us know in the comments.

Image via YouTube

Chris Crum

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
  • qqq

    no, it not help. All that updates only to increase google revenue. We need new search engine!

  • terribose

    I have 5 sites, all were banged by Panda. Personal income cut in half and decreased staff from 13 to 6 employees. All 5 sites show a significant recovery with Panda 4.0. Looking forward to rehiring and being able to put food on my table again.

    • Bob Teal

      Dont look too far forward as Google will change the rules again each month.

    • AJ

      Consider yourself very lucky. With each update, my site has lost ground each time.

      • AJ

        I should add, the quality of the traffic has been horrible as well…

  • Dave

    No recovery here. Traffic is still off what it used to be, infact today we’ve
    had more foreign traffic than ever before! Sales & revenue continue to be
    sqeezed from all angles, whether it be Google Shopping & Images making
    organic below the fold or what little organic space they do show being full of
    eBay & Amazon! Matt Cutt’s NEVER replies to a tweet, just deletes them.
    Today I’ve had a Google IP addreess all over two of my sites so no doubt another
    kicking this weekend!!
    So if this is your idea of helping small business Matt
    you are well off the mark, why not drop me a tweet @annoyedretailer & i’ll
    explain all we’ve been throigh since MayDay 2010! I’m sure you would recognise
    the name, I’ve tweeted you in desperation many times but been ignored.

    • AJ

      Cutts is an arrogant snot and doesn’t give a hoot about anyone. All he cares about is increasing revenue for Google and doesn’t seem to care how they accomplish that goal. He’s a jerk and a liar.

  • http://www.fizzwebdesign.co.uk/ Sean

    I can’t help but feel annoyed that the internet has now become “google” – whatever this big corporate company does, we all scramble in a panic to placate it. It affects small business income and staff levels all over the world. Considering the internet was given to the world, this seems morally wrong inso many levels.

    • kernel

      exactly. google not rank sites in normal way, it using “blind eye” tactic. Also I am very not sure what here any sites which recovered from panda. May be google just manually “unpenalized” few sites to show us “positive” movements. On my side – no any positive results.

  • http://www.medical-supplies-equipment-company.com GVGordon

    After two years of downgrades by all the cute animals and 60% loss in traffic, we did see a 16% increase in traffic after Panda 4.0 last week. However, there appears to be a new update in the works and the traffic seems to be dropping to pre-Panda 4 levels. Its a never ending ride. Business survival and growth must be sought outside of search engines. You can not forecast, build and maintain a business if you are stock to the search engine roller-coaster. We hope Alibaba brings some competition to Google in the US market. Without a meaningful competitor Google will continue to dictate and change at whim the rules of engagement.

  • Michele

    Not in my case. Went from 40 to 60 this week. (Used to be 1-2). checked all the rankings just this morning. Etsy takes over top spot. Ebay #4. Only 2 of the independent shops like me rank in top 20. (We used dominate the first page.) Slipped further into oblivion. Ive given up…..had to move on. Can’t continue fighting and go nowhere. I need an income and my built from scratch site is no longer it. I have so much resentment toward google for playing god. Panda literally changed my life…and not in a good way.

  • Ron A.

    It appears that helping so-called “small businesses” refers mostly to multi-million dollar companies. The majority of (true) small businesses actually show less than 1 million in annual revenues; so Google’s intents/implications with the latest Panda update are disingenuous, at best. This comes as no surprise, given their focus on catering to mammoths — especially Amazon and related affiliate sites — in their search results. The irony is that many of these result links are actually irrelevant, outdated, or just plain dumb — so much for Google’s proclaimed intent to provide relevant and appropriate search results.

    • https://restore.solutions/ Numus Software

      Absolutely… well said.. We wish we were in the millions.. maybe then… blah blahh. we have all heard this from Google forever…its just bull.. i am fed up of the same old… from them. Seriously maybe they need to put their new Quantum computer to use and throw away everything else because it does not work…

      Google and NASA’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CMdHDHEuOUE

  • http://www.neverpaintagain.co.uk/ Never Paint Again UK

    After being hit, badly, by previous updates, partly our own fault I may add, in retrospect, but we gained 50% increase in traffic since tuesday May 20th. As you can imagine, it’s changed the way we think of the future of the business now. I may add this took three years of hard work and belief in order to get back into their good books. I just hope it lasts. :)

    (oh and we are a small business by the way)

  • Becky

    Awful. Why are small businesses left to the mercy of the infinite wisdom of Google? How many Google developers get “automatic deposit”? Probably all. I don’t get income unless I sell and the internet is my major sales tool. I don’t get automatic deposit. Not my problem if some sites are bad, useless, outdated, etc., but don’t penalize my small business. How ’bout some common sense. The end doesn’t justify the means.

  • http://www.affordablewebdesignva.com/ goon70056

    I can’t tell if I’ve been hurt or helped by the update; one one hand, I have more showings on page one of search results. On the other hand, I’m not getting as much traffic as usual.

  • JustVerdad3

    GOOGLE Corp. veering toward
    predatory corruption
    > mendacious Matt Cutts fronts a (not credible)
    ‘dog & pony show’
    huckstering PHONY ‘Panda’ updates —
    which seem to proliferate / abet the ongoing display of FRAUDULENT
    (scraped names/keywords) WebSpam,
    & sleazy Spam-junk nonsense SNIPPETS!
    >> Matt Cutts tends to
    disinform / misinform the public with announcements
    that the phony “Panda’ &/or ‘Penguin’ updates
    supposedly affect a minuscule 0.02 (%) of Google
    search results, etc. as part of a P.R. scheme / pseudo-campaign
    to (ineffectually) ‘fake-fight’ WebSpam…

    It’s long past time for a comprehensive GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION

    of GOOGLE Corporation’s varied malfeasance, corruption and…

    racketeering —

    including seemingly warped profiteering via deliberate collusion

    w/ shady WebSpam (scraped names/phone#, random-aggregator

    keyword-stuffed crap) and fraudulent Spam-Junk SNIPPETS.

    note:

    Some of these obscene WebSpam sites apparently

    serve as ‘honeypots’ for (wannabe) espionage, blackmail etc.

    by NSA-Mossad clandestine Ops. & ‘moneypots’ for ‘Kabbalah Cabal’

    organized-crime syndicates — also associated sleazoids, corrupt

    predators, fraudsters & scamsters !
    ——————————————-

    ==> INVESTIGATE GOOGLE Corp.’s RELATIONSHIP with corrupt,
    fraudulent & misleading RANDOM-AGGREGATOR, (scraped names,
    phone#) keyword-stuffed sleazy, crooked WebSpam profiteers.
    Google Corp. is both overtly & covertly (clandestinely) ’embedded with’ (in bed with) the NSA, Mossad and Israeli/Russian-jewish organized crime networks — deleteriously exploiting the general public.

    ===

  • Lolita

    I have had my website for 6 years SexySarong and find it to be better than most sarong sites and still come in way later than the others that advertise with Google so I just chalk it up as its once again perks cost! But see no change with this Panda I have gone on without worrying about Google and have sought out other avenues, such as “The Find” its free and we are all treated as equals.If we are to give our customers great content, we need to focus on them instead of Google : )

  • Dolce Vita

    It has not helped our site at all. We’re still floundering and wondering why. We have met all of Google’s dictated requirements. Yes, Google is indeed a dictatorship. It’s not right that a once thriving small business, and we’re about as small as they get, is dying because of Google. So frustrated and angry. Watching Matt Cutts makes my blood boil. It’s easy for him, with his guaranteed fat paycheck. I’d like him to come to our office and tell employees they are laid off.

  • Vicky

    Lost 80% of traffic because of Google ban. It seems they want to eliminate all small businesses. I am not using anymore Google as a search engine because now it is like to visit the Yellow Pages. I am using other search engines.

  • wertwert

    Panda for is more of a no-op for my retail sites… I’m not complaining… last 5 years have been brutal for retailers in Google SERPs… a no-op is a welcome change. Of course they could have done nothing to the same effect but…

  • Kat

    No improvements here – all small mom and pop sites. It’s a shame all they want to do is corrupt it enough so that the only way to survive is Adwords.

  • Bob Teal

    You do know the plan was to make organic search a thing of the past. If you pay Google enough for PPC then they might send you traffic of course you will pay the bid for each click to your site whether they buy something or not and for packaging supplies its about 8 dollars and up for keywords. They want you to pay them and charge it back to the end user or customer. Raise prices or die I guess.

  • http://www.lotussculpture.com Kyle Tortora

    My site traffic at http://www.lotussculpture.com has gone up considerably in the past two weeks from 1300 to 2100 per day. This is back to where it was pre penguin. I am very happy with this!

  • Steve

    Steve Wiideman is the worst SOB I have ever encountered.

  • Robert

    It’s been great sales are up 10 fold, web traffic is nearly a million hits per day….then I woke up from my dream and its all the SOS.

  • http://www.baliaccommodation.com/ Nick Berghausen

    This is a joke. Google puts hundreds of thousands of businesses out of
    business and all of a sudden finds a good heart? For some this might
    come a bit late. And for what it’s worth, we have not seen any change in
    ranking of our site nor our competitors. However, Bing loves us and
    brings us now with more than 100 top 10 keywords more traffic than
    Google. Yep, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

  • Paresh Koli

    Even my website http://www.desimedicos.com has seen huge number of visitors since the update. Earlier i used to get maximum 5 visit per day from Google now i get more than 50.

  • Truly

    Hahaha…
    google ‘megaphone’ (& website-hype guy) — thanks for giving me a laugh
    with your fabricated (not believable) post, shilling for Google P.R. 😉

    ——-

  • Nest Bedding

    Was slammed by the first Panda in May last year but no manual penalty. Spent a bunch of time and money to strip every bad, suspicious or borderline link, attended to every SEO warning I could find. http://www.nestbedding.com A year later we still are nowhere close to the traffic we were and no bump after this supposed kinder to small businesses update. I might add that many of the sites above mine locally are never updated and have zero fresh content and hardly any social signals. I have TONS of content, updated couple times a week, and lots of social activity and I still get buried.

  • http://www.homeandbazaar.com Arvind Sharma

    No ..There is no help.. Only one of project is showing some improvement.. rest all are as it is

  • Michiko

    Not all search engines share ad revenues with those who have websites. Only Google does that – so far.

  • FnGstore.com

    Google has been playing god for long :(

  • http://terrostar.com/ Christopher Glass

    Panda 4.0 is definitely going to be helping small businesses! It killed a lot of the big guys that were taking over the results. Super happy about this. Heres a great article on the Panda update in a simplified form http://terrostar.com/blog/googles-panda-strikes-again

  • Jimmy Terronez

    Thanks for the article, it was great! Negative effects of the update aside, there are some ways to help with them:
    http://terrostar.com/blog/google-panda-4.0-update

  • John G

    Our situation is a little complicated. We were on track for 3.5M in calendar 2012 with an average of 2000 Google referrals per day, but in Sept of that year one of our web developers accidentally moved a no-follow header from our dev site to production. We discovered the error on the same day we completely vanished from Google’s index. After removing the no-follow from production, we ended that year at 2.8M. Since then, our Google referrals have never recovered – we barely eek out 300 referrals per day, revenue has dropped by 60% and 4 FTE’s were furloughed. Just a perfect, devastating storm for us…

  • Truth

    We the people will suffer as long as we allow an Advertising company to dominate and control the internet we the people built. One company controlling the majority of a world wide economic engine? I have legit sites (one generating 3.3 million impressions every 30 days). I see un natural trends all the time. I have seen natural beautiful growth curbed over and over. I look at webmaster tools almost daily across 15+ sites in many different industries (client sites too). How many people have seen pages rank top 4 in less than 60 seconds after being fetched and submitted to the index? Yes I have documented proof. I am not talking about targeting keywords with no search volume. The algorithm does not take a week, month, year… to figure out where your site should rank. Waiting a year for a page to rank is complete BS. Let me repeat that: complete BS. A super computer taking a year to solve an algebraic equation? But I digress. Truth of the matter is we need to use other search engines collectively. Search engines like Yahoo, Ask, Jeeves, and Bing need our help to ensure a healthy competitive SE marketplace so to speak. We absolutely must and have to keep, not only Google, but many corporations in check period. Google has forgotten who the master is. Traffic declining, Adsense earning declining… Is this the best you have to offer Google? A good portion of your coveted traffic don’t even convert.