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Ranking in Google Now That Panda Has Gone Global

Google Points to Guidelines, Improved Communication

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Ranking in Google Now That Panda Has Gone Global
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Since Google launched the controversial Panda update in February, anxious webmasters and publishers have been waiting for the day when it would go from just a U.S. change to a global change. That day came this week, as Google announced it had expanded the “search quality” algorithm worldwide for English language users.

Have you been impacted by the global roll-out of the Panda update? Let us know.

Many sites were reported to have lost major traffic and search rankings as a result of the U.S. roll-out. We’ve expected these sites to be further devastated as Panda made its way to more countries.

Side note: just in case there is any confusion (there has been in the past) since Google didn’t use the word “panda” in the latest announcement, Matt Cutts did call it that:

Today Google rolled out “Panda” algorithmic improvement globally to all English-language Google users: http://goo.gl/RLhHW 1 day ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Believe it or not, not everyone’s quick to comment on how their traffic has been impacted. EzineArticles was one of the sites that was hit hard, and quickly began making changes to its content approach following the U.S. update. They talked about this on the company blog. No new blog post yet.

The last time I reached out to CEO Chris Knight for comment on the site’s traffic post-Panda, he didn’t want to offer any – although he did provide another update on the blog in March.

Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis, who had to resort to layoffs because of the Panda update did comment on the situation. “We were impacted starting on February 24th and haven’t seen a significant change up or down since then,” he tells us. “We support Google’s effort to make better search results and continue to build only expert-driven content. This means any videos and text we make has a credentialed expert with seven years or 10,000 hours of experience (a la Malcolm Gladwell).”

He pointed to the following examples:

http://www.mahalo.com/learn-to-play-guitar-beginner-course/

http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-make-profiteroles/

“Everything we’re doing is now expert driven. Period,” Calacanis says. “Google’s Panda update has ended the age of casual, non-expert-driven content. We’re hopeful that as Google continues to tweak their algorithm our experts and their content will be rewarded.”

Morris Rosenthal of Foner Books (a Panda victim whose story we looked at here and here) tells us, “As far as the algo goes, I think my initial take was 100% on. It’s just brand names and social sites now. I’m even seeing Google Answers ranking for many queries, despite the fact they shut Answers down in 2002! But it was ‘social.’”

Last week, we looked at a report from marketing firm iCrossing, which seemed to indicate benefits for big brands as well.

We’ve reached out to Suite101, and Demand Media for comment on the update, and have nothing so far.

Google’s Amit Singhal told webmasters, “Based on our testing, we’ve found the algorithm is very accurate at detecting site quality. If you believe your site is high-quality and has been impacted by this change, we encourage you to evaluate the different aspects of your site extensively. Google’s quality guidelines provide helpful information about how to improve your site. As sites change, our algorithmic rankings will update to reflect that. In addition, you’re welcome to post in our Webmaster Help Forums. While we aren’t making any manual exceptions, we will consider this feedback as we continue to refine our algorithms.”

Following the initial launch of the Panda update, we looked at some things that are known and some things that are possible, with regards to what publishers and webmasters should take into account. Given Google’s specific reference to their quality guidelines in the latest announcement, this seems like the best place to start. Here’s Google’s list of “specific guidelines”:

  • Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
  • Don’t use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  • Don’t send automated queries to Google.
  • Don’t load pages with irrelevant keywords.
  • Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content. (emphasis added)
  • Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.
  • Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
  • If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value. Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.

They also get into “basic principles,” which deal with avoiding obvious black hat techniques. I’d suggest reading this whole page of webmaster guidelines, which deal not only with quality, but also design/content, and technical guidelines.

“Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site,” Google says. “Even if you choose not to implement any of these suggestions, we strongly encourage you to pay very close attention to the ‘Quality Guidelines,’ which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise penalized. If a site has been penalized, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google’s partner sites.”

Cutts also lent his endorsement of this advice from ex-Googler Vanessa Fox.

Google is also experimenting with better communication with webmasters who do reconsideration requests, according to Cutts:

We’re running an experiment with better communication for site owners who do reconsideration requests: http://goo.gl/FrNzp 1 day ago via web · powered by @socialditto

The link goes to a Search Engine Roundtable article looking at an email a webmaster received from Google’s Search Quality team. Here’s an excerpt of the email:

If you’ve experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site’s content, content management system, or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot, or if you’ve changed the URLs for a large portion of your site’s pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons your site may not be doing well in search.

If you’re still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

While the Panda update has really only been around for a couple months, a lot has happened on the Google search quality front since its initial launch. For one, they announced the +1 button, and clearly said it would be used as a ranking signal.

They also started letting users block domains. This was also brought up in the latest announcement, as Google is now using it as a ranking signal. Signhal’s specific words on that, were ” In some high-confidence situations, we are beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into our algorithms. In addition, this change also goes deeper into the ‘long tail’ of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before. The impact of these new signals is smaller in scope than the original change: about 2% of U.S. queries are affected by a reasonable amount, compared with almost 12% of U.S. queries for the original change.” (emphasis added)

That is a big difference, but it will be interesting to see how some of the sites reported to have lost the most from Panda, fare over time.

Do you think Panda has improved Google’s search quality? Share your thoughts.

Ranking in Google Now That Panda Has Gone Global
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  • http://www.newenergycom.com Jim Coon

    Panda seems like a way to lock out small business. You can be offering a legitimate service or product that satisfies a real need, but if you don’t offer “experts” or a name brand, you are shut out. What happened to the level playing field?

    • http://www.9ame.co.uk/ game

      I think so. Fresh content is more important in global than ever before thanks to the arrival of Google’s Panda update

    • Bamboozled Content

      I agree 100% the corporate content has won the listing even if it is a spoiled fish.

      I am familiar with a large number of home improvement do it yourself site owners with 20 plus years of working in the trades and their well written advice content plummeted in the Serps.

      While the crap content that at best could be called bad advice or, what the hell are they talking about advice climbed to the top.

      Well in any case the content of E-How, and on You Tube the “Expert Village” is generating some good laughs on the home improvement forums. I just hope nobody follows the advice they give.

  • http://AirportGuide.com/ Michael Forte

    I wasn’t paying much attention to Panda before the rollout as my site, AirportGuide.com, has always been about the content and not how to make a buck. Since the rollout my Google traffic has increased approximately 40%. I have to believe it’s because of Panda since I haven’t really changed anything else on the site since then.

    • Alex

      sure Michael from AirportGuide.com

      your rank is great and you can “feel” what is going on…
      Alexa: Global 1,163,651 , US: 578,021

      :(

  • http://www.thedirecttree.com John

    I agree with Jim. Google forgotten the small businesses who at the end of the day most pay for Adwords. A small business does not have the resources of the large content farms yet small business in many cases offer better advice it is just not written in the way the google might consider as “expert” content.

  • http://UseBiz.com Jeff Schneider

    We are hoping a White Knight will come along and lauch our site in favor of Small Businesses. We have had lots of interest from worthy competitors so far. Stay tuned.

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  • http://www.petrojobrecruit.co.uk Jay

    Until Mar 2011, we had been wondering why our job board’s search ranking on ‘relevant’ organic key words was so low. It has not improved after the Google PANDA alogrithm which rewards quality and original content. 95% of content on our site is original.

    Webmaster
    PetroJobRecruit.co.uk

  • http://www.lots0cash.com lots0

    Google is panicing…

    BING is gaining market share every month and Google is losing market share.

    Google betrayed the small webmaster, now google has to pay the piper.

    Bite the hand that feeds you at your own risk…

    • S, Dorje

      I really like Bing search results….Less directories and ads..

    • http://www.seowebexpert.co.uk Dave Jenkins

      Bing isn’t really gaining any ground in the UK. Google has total dominance.

  • http://afghans.net/ Afghanistan

    I had a PR4 site @ http://afghans.net/ – NOW it’s PR1 :-(

    Google’s Panda Update has affected my site very badly.

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

    I must have been a low quality person before, because this update has shown me the light. This much more level playing field has shown me that only big brands and the real experts at eHow are the only ones that matter.

  • Matt

    I personally don’t have any issues with the Panda update. I manage about 30 websites and most of them have increased in traffic since the update. Content is king always has been, Google is now enforcing that concept. Site owners can either complain about their traffic or produce original relevant content.

    • http://www.the-system.org Content is King

      Totally agree!!
      I run about 50 sites all producing original content from experts in the subject to support the commercial front end. All my sites rankings have improved.
      If Panda is about embedded links from quality content counting for more then more pandas would be good.
      Though they are incredibly difficult to breed.

  • http://www.japansuper.com Marina Ota

    We may be in the minority, however, our business does not want to and can not go global. We sell perishable food items and can not ship many of our items outside of the USA. Even, if we are presented to the “world”, we can not ship to it, due to the nature of the items that we handle, the cost factor, ship rates, etc..

  • http://www.livingportugalproperty.com Portugal Property

    Great info again. Our site is written in English and targeted for the British market. I am not sure whether “Panda” has affected UK businesses yet, but recently we moved up from 8th on the first page to number 5 for our main keyword “Portugal Property.” let’s hope it stays that way or in fact improves even more. I’d love to get into the top 3, but there are some tough characters in front of us.

  • http://africanmangoe.com/african-mango-plus.php African Mango Plus

    My point, and the point of other people I listen to, is that as long as you continue to provide great content, you won’t every have to worry about losing rankings in any update.

    I try to use time-tested principles when I create sites and create content, and the people I listen to have been creating great sites for years, and haven’t really experienced any major loss in rankings.

  • http://strideritecouponshub.com Stride Rite

    I love this panda update! Now the quality content ranks better than spammed to hell junk ;)

  • Chinemere

    A new order in search Engine marketing is being unknowingly ushered in by Google, and this change will bring into the fore a new cyber “feudal” Lord to take over the reigns from dear ‘ol Google who has decided to break its monopoly and vice like grip on SEM.
    Since Google has decided to truncate online democracy which it has advocated in the past, Google will get a taste of the “fascist” pudding it is currently cooking, and I bet you the taste will be quite bitter…hello Bing- are you there?

  • rob

    I’m seeing even more junky sites now in my searches than before – I too run many sites – most haven’t been impacted by the global roll out however a few have and in those cases I’m seeing those exact “cookie cutter” type sites that google apparently targeting outranking my sites now. And wikipedia – for some reason wikipedia seems to have come back strong in many of my product related searches. Whats up with that?

    • http://greatdanetraining.net Deb

      Wikipedia is and always will be strong, what better expert? Just the facts with citations.
      Cookie cutter type sites are likely outranking you because they load faster.

  • http://twitter.com/dpgroom David

    I have some ‘test’ sites that have been affected by the update, have also noticed keyword domains dropping for some big head terms.

  • S. Dorje

    Went from 3rd page in organic search to 1st page for my service business keywords. Just original content, no flash, no seo tricks….

    • S. Dorje

      Also this is a one person busines….

  • http://cyberntechnologies.bligoo.com berny polania

    Not many changes, things run very much as usual, only small traffic changes in the horizon, some sites go up, some go down, but i don’t believe this is because panda.

  • http://www.24h-bag.com uphichet

    It seems good. Hope it will be use used with all languages soon.

  • http://wildboarhunting.blogspot.com Peter Jaeckle

    Right around the end of March we noticed a significant drop in visits to our blog and website. Traffic dropped by around 10 to 15 percent.

    We could not explain the sudden and unexpected setback.

    Nowwe can.

  • http://curiouslittleperson.com Sandeep@CuriousLittlePerson

    Google has only reinstated content is king.. my site is too small to be affected yet… for the trickling traffic, its slowly increasing as i keep posting new content

  • http://icbp.us/ Product review

    i love google i love panda 55555555555

  • http://greatdanetraining.net Deb

    Since Panda Has Gone Global my traffic remains consistent but my CTR has slightly increased.

  • http://ivf-israel.com meirav

    great change.
    From page no. 10 to the second for the key words: ivf + israel

  • http://www.9ame.co.uk/ game

    My site fall from page 3 to page 9 HAHA

  • Frank

    If I ever meet Larry Page, Matt Cutts, or Sergey Brin in person I’m going to literally whip out my pr-i-ck and p-i-ss on them.

  • http://in-a-day.com.au/ Rob

    Thanks for the heads up. I am going to check out googles guidelines now.

  • http://www.daronet.com/campaign/campaign.asp דרונט בניית אתרים

    Is Panda considered an Upgrade or Downfall?
    yet got an answer…

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

    At first it seemed my two major sites, one on crafting and one one anti-aging, we unaffected by Panda. But as of Monday both have seen massive traffic drop offs. The beauty site if off by 60%, the craft site by 40% These are relatively small sites – the biggest is just over 1000 pages, they are both about 8 years old and both using original content for 95% or more of the pages. Don’t know if this has anything to do with Panda or not – but I am getting sick of the games Google plays.

  • Nitish

    Its a great has been taken by Google but it is mostly affected the small businesses.

  • http://blogseothailand.co.cc/ Blog SEO Thailand

    Ranking in Google Now That Panda Has Gone Global Updatt from Google

  • http://www.skopjehotels.info/ Skopje hotels

    Before Panda hit the world, I was nowhere with my blog which has only original and unique content written by me and my friends according our experiences.
    Now I am on the first page and I thing Panda do the just for the hard working people with original and individual approach.
    Probably I know more about Skopje Hotels than somebody who seat in the company headquarters and never visited Macedonia in his life.

  • http://www.hedgehogdigital.co.uk/ SEO Bedford

    In some ways I think it has improved Google Search results and cleaned out the those write for rank articles that were populating the rankings for certain keywords/keyphrases.

  • http://www.delovesto.com Tony Payne

    Since Panda was rolled out, like other writers I have noticed that my articles on Yahoo Contributor Network have suffered a huge drop in traffic, even though these were quality and original articles.

    Squidoo however, there I also publish original content, is if anything showing an increase in traffic from Google, or at least those pages (lenses) that are of a high quality are showing this.

    While my personal blog continues to be indexed by Google, I have not really detected any change in traffic. I had hoped that it would increase, but at least it hasn’t decreased.

    I fear that one change in the algorhythm is to promote those sites that are focused on a more specific topic, and those like my blog, which has no fixed focus, flounder in the search results by comparison.

    The alternative is to either limit my writing to specific topics, or to create multiple sites where each one has a focus, but that requires a lot more work for an individual, and each site would have less traffic as well.

  • http://www.inetbrokerage.com Jim Rockford

    The Panda Algo change may also do away with affiliate sites in the rankings as well. So basically Google will showcase Industry Leaders, Authorities and experts first. Weeding out a lot of garbage at a cost of some great Website results as well. I would doubt keyword rich and generic will see a change in this results update algo change but time will tell.

  • http://www.angelagrace.com Angela Grace

    I suppose now waves of folks will alter their content to ‘Expert” or “Authority” status in order to be discovered. Our Angela website has seen no change.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/internet-marketing-scammers-or-honest-and-good- Paul

    Whisper it softly but I wonder if there’s an element of the Emperor’s new clothes about this Panda affair. Yes, a few of the worst content farms have been hit but I see many of the usual suspects still ranking high and I see little evidence that the changes have affected the spinnings and spawn of the crass affilated. Clobber a few big businesses – they’ll buy their way back. Clobber a few small sites that will tug the heart strings but actually indicate that Google done good. Remove duplicate content – not done to a hugely noticeable effect in many areas.

  • Quilll

    Switch to Bing or any other search. It has to start somewhere, so start with those of us with sites out there and start promoting other search engines. If we continue to gripe and complain but do nothing else, we are our own worst enemy. Google could care less about our gripes and the only way to affect change is to make a major momentum change for people to switch to other search engines, then maybe Google will take us more seriously.

  • http://homestairlifts.net Stair Lifter

    Not much changed for me after panda update. Actually some sites gained better ranking after feb 24

  • http://petsmart-coupons.net Petsmart Coupons

    It’s about time “content farms” got punished in google.

  • http://www.waterstamps.com Jake Skyles

    YES! My traffic is way up. This is good for the “Water Stamps Out Thirst” cause. Teamed with the “Water for People” at the Gase Foundation.

  • Dianne Eason

    As a search engine user, I’ve been frustrated by some of the new results in that there’s a lot of technical stuff coming up. I’m not a technical girl, and I despise reading technical stuff, regardless of topic.

    I want a variety of information from a variety of sources, which allows me to use my own good sense when considering the worthiness of it.

    Obviously, if I’m looking for information on life-altering things, I’m going to a flesh-and-blood source, not the internet.

    It seems the Little Guys have all been lumped together. Many good writers are a big part of those sites hardest hit, and that wouldn’t seem to be fair.

    Surely there is a way to weed more selectively what is good content and what is bad than to have any and all from one site source deemed lacking?

  • http://michaelkorsoutlet.us/ Michael Kors

    Few of my websites have dropped but not much. Posting fresh content will help i hope

  • http://www.neilsonmarketing.com Jeff Neilson

    Yes I believe it has. Panda has made the search results much more relevant and increased the quality in what the browser is looking for. It’s nice to find an expert on page one when you enter in a key word or phrase. I also believe Panda will help rid all if not most of the black hats. Love google!

  • http://juicycouturewatches.org Mike

    I think that Google’s Panda update is good because I prefer fresh and quality content.

  • http://katespadeoutlet.us Jason

    I loose some position in Google but I think that Google’s Panda algorithm is good because we all want quality and unique content.

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