Google Panda 2.5: Losers Include Today Show, The Next Web; Winners Include YouTube, Fox News

Searchmetrics has a pretty good track record of figuring out who lost after one of Google’s Panda Updates. Among the latest victims of this week’s Panda Update 2.5, some unexpected surprises: popular tech blog The Next Web, blog aggregator Technorati, and NBC’s The Today Show. Winners include Google’s own YouTube, along with Fox News and several other mainstream news sites.

Apparently, that patented SEO process that Business Wire just announced isn’t much help to the company. It was listed among the victims, along with PR Newswire.

About The Losers

The names are from a report that Searchmetrics has just released.

It’s worth noting that that Searchmetrics doesn’t really know the degree any of these sites has actually been harmed by the Panda update. The company computes a “visibility” score for a wide-range of keywords. The companies named above, along with others, have lost visibility for those terms.

It could be despite this, these companies have gained visibility for terms that aren’t checked. It could also be that the terms they’ve lost visibility for weren’t sending important traffic that converted into sales or ad revenue.

Those caveats aside, it’s been pretty common that after Searchmetrics has issued one of its winners / loser reports, some of the sites have stepped up to confirm the assessments.

Here’s the full losers list:

For Every Loser, There’s A Winner

There’s also a winners list. Once again, Google’s own YouTube site is winner. It tops the latest list, something that’s sure to raise controversy in a climate when Google’s facing criticism that its search results favor itself. Google’s Android.com is also in the top winners list. So is Google-partner AOL.com.

A site that won’t be gossiping over the news is Perez Hilton, among the winners. And while magazine Motor Trend took a hit, magazine US Weekly rose. Other big winners were mainstream news sites like the Washington Post, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal.

While YouTube was the top winner, TV.com from CBS Interactive was in the number two spot. In fact, on a percentage basis, it did better than YouTube.

Here’s the winners list:

Also notable on the winners list is HubPages, which was hit hard by previous Panda updates but claimed to have recovered back in July.

More Information

If you’re trying to understand more about the Panda update, and perhaps recover from it, see our Related Entry links below.

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Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Features: General | Panda Update News | Panda Update Winners & Losers | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • http://searchengineland.com Aaron Wall

    Quickly goes off to register YoutubeSEOMethod.com.

    Not sure if I could pad it out to a whole ebook though…

    Step 1: register a Youtube account, or do it in bulk via automated means
    Step 2: post garbage to Youtube based on a keyword list, or do it in bulk via automated means
    Step 3: add links in the videos & video descriptions to your offers
    Step 4: buy your beachfront palace

    It would not make the “spam fighters” happy, but I would ***love*** to see a blog post on the (lack of) legitimacy of Youtube’s rise every time Panda rolls out.

    Before the first Panda update happened Youtube was capturing just over 3% of downstream Google traffic. Now they are likely up to 900%. That means Google is sending YouTube hundreds of millions of referrals every single day.

    If content farms are bad, then why is it that virtually nobody is questioning why Google’s content farm keeps going up and up and up and up?

    A friend just showed me a decade+ old family run business with over 3,000 unique linking domains that got torched by Panda. That puts it at one of the top 30,000 websites in the world (in terms of link diversity) and yet they were torched. And then we see the worst trash in the world ranking better and better, so long as it is hosted by Google.

    Nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care.

    Speaking of Youtube, it reminds me of George Carlin clip on The American Dream, hosted by Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

  • http://searchengineland.com Aaron Wall

    Up above I didn’t mean 900%, I mean they are up to around 9% or 10%…nearly a 200% increase in a half-year. That would be huge growth for a tiny website, but it is unheard of for sites the size of Youtube.

    On an unrelated note, Google describes Youtube as the #2 search engine
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjJaNbMN6-g&feature=youtu.be&t=46s
    The hundreds of millions of visits from Google users *every single day* couldn’t have anything at all to do with that!

    If Google hosts it, its not spam! Except..
    http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/31/google-inadvertently-classifies-google-places-as-a-content-farm-and-removes-from-search-index/

    It has to be planned for Youtube to grow as a % of overall results. That sort of growth isn’t accidental or driven by an unbiased algorithm (after all, only one site has seen that sort of explosive growth in the SERPs since Panda). I wonder if Google search engineers feel just a tad bit sleazy, or if they are just ignorant of what’s in the search results?

  • http://nathanbelomy.com Nathan Belomy

    Yahoo is the only internet company that exists.

  • http://www.planetc1.com/ Michael Dorausch

    Aaron Wall: some of us do notice and we do care, but will that stop the Google machine from torching sites while building their content farm empire?

  • http://europeforvisitors.com Durant Imboden

    Before getting worked up over YouTube’s success, it might be wise to note that 11 of the 14 sites on the winners’ list did as well as YouTube did–or even better. In several cases, non-Google properties did a LOT better: about three times better, in the case of Zappos, Metacafe, and US Magazine. What conclusion can be draw from that?

  • TimmyTime

    “A friend just showed me a decade+ old family run business with over 3,000 unique linking domains that got torched by Panda. That puts it at one of the top 30,000 websites in the world (in terms of link diversity) and yet they were torched. And then we see the worst trash in the world ranking better and better, so long as it is hosted by Google.

    Nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. ”

    I wouldn’t go that far, bloggers and SE specialists like Danny will undoubtedly write about it now that you brought tit to their attention.

  • http://searchengineland.com Aaron Wall

    “Before getting worked up over YouTube’s success, it might be wise to note that 11 of the 14 sites on the winners’ list did as well as YouTube did–or even better. ”

    sure, if you count the % rather than the absolute amount. but nothing came close to YouTube’s 529,195…the nearest example would need to TRIPLE to have the same absolute growth.

    And, further, I wouldn’t call viewing the data through that lens “being wise” … rather that would require being ignorant of the broader trend. Those other winners didn’t grow by x% every update and every month for the past half-year. The sites in the winners lists keep shifting between updates, with the exception of YouTube…that *always* wins.

    According to Compete, Google’s downstream referrals to Youtube (as a % of downstream traffic from Google) have nearly tripled over the past 7 months. There are no sites anywhere near the size of YouTube that have grown at anywhere near that rate in Google referrals over that time period. I know because I study the actual data, the algorithms, and the trends. Doing that is “being wise” to what is actually going on.

  • http://www.seoinspection.com S.I.

    I really believe that the sites that are getting hit are just unfocused and have little content. Look at motortrend in google text-only cache. It’s all links and no content.

    Same for consumers affairs, the number of links as a percentage of content is very high.

    And if the links are so varied that the content can’t match, then the site will suffer.

  • http://www.artscienceweb.com Justin Howley

    I’m still finding extremely poor quality in the top 3 results especially for retail products, and product review searches. Most are referral sites that have absolutely no authority or credibility whatsoever. One site even forgot to change the “About Us” from the boilerplate WordPress about us sample content. Ridiculous!

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    Aaron I must say I completely disagree with you. From March 2011 to August 2011, there was a 12% growth in unique visitors. You are attributing this to Panda? By your statement “Up above I didn’t mean 900%, I mean they are up to around 9% or 10%…nearly a 200% increase in a half-year.” Well March 2011 had 123,406,835 UV and August had 138,358,626 UV (using your compete source). How is that a 200% increase? That looks like about 12% to me. Not to mention that a content farm is different than a legitimate, well-established site like washingtonpost.com or youtube.com. The whole definition behind content farm is that it’s copied/scraped/rewritten content from across the web on a spammy, non-authoritative source.

    “Google is targeting content farms — a common name for low quality sites whose main goal is to attract search traffic by piling up (mostly) useless content, usually by producing large amounts of low-quality text or by copying it from websites with original content.” (Mashable, http://mashable.com/2011/02/25/google-content-farms/)

    I do not consider youtube to be a content farm. Where is the content that they are actively going out and getting and repurposing for their own benefit? Do you honestly believe that Google is actively pushing YouTube higher than it’s competitors through an algorithmic bias?

    I would agree that traffic is not accidental. However that could easily, easily be attributed to new user sign-ups, more user engagement/uploads, the commonness of the service on the web, or just more users utilizing the service from more devices.

    Regardless, Google is in the opinion business. Every query you ask Google, Google is giving you it’s opinion as to what it think’s is the best result. Google doesn’t have to adhere to anyone’s requests/suggestions that they deliver opinions(SERP’s) a certain way. If I own a product that helps book airline fares, you can be damn sure that I’m going to promote that product on my own pages. Oh no! You don’t like YouTube being the first result? *Gasp* Click the next result!

  • http://searchengineland.com Aaron Wall

    “Well March 2011 had 123,406,835 UV and August had 138,358,626 UV (using your compete source). How is that a 200% increase?”

    Once again, someone is “debunking” the truth by looking at the wrong data set.

    First let me say that it is impossible for Youtube to grow 200% in UNIQUE VISITORS inside the United States, as that would be over 110% of the US population! Nor did I claim that their US unique visitor count was exclusively driven by search. For instance, I also know they have had big growth on cell phones.

    But unique visitors and total visits are not 1 and the same thing. If you are a paid subscriber to Compete.com (like I am) and you view the “% of downstream traffic” distributed to websites…which I have logged every month since Panda…you will see that Google’s % of traffic to Youtube went from low 3ish % to now around 9% (and that is *before* this latest Panda Update).

    “The whole definition behind content farm is that it’s copied/scraped/rewritten content from across the web on a spammy, non-authoritative source. ”

    So when done at low quality the writing format is bad, but if I give a monkey that same poorly written script & have them read it in front of a camera & then upload it to Youtube as a video it is suddenly high quality?

    Video is automatically transformative in terms of quality???

    Seriously?????

    “Where is the content that they are actively going out and getting and repurposing for their own benefit? ”

    Not all content farms have a top down hierarchy where there is a command and control center telling users how to steal content, where to steal it from, how to publish it, etc. Some of them have the same bottom up structure that YouTube has. The only major difference is most of them are text rather than video.

    However, if you look at the likes of Mahalo, their “pivot” is to upload videos to YouTube. Do you find that as only being a coincidence?

    “I would agree that traffic is not accidental. However that could easily, easily be attributed to new user sign-ups, more user engagement/uploads, the commonness of the service on the web, or just more users utilizing the service from more devices.”

    Don’t speculate…look at the actual raw numbers from Yahoo! and Bing and Google. The numbers tell the truth, whereas speculation is only speculation.

  • http://europeforvisitors.com Durant Imboden

    Is this a thread about Panda, or about YouTube?

    YouTube is part of Google. Its results are served up as part of Google Universal Search, along with Google News, Google Images, Google Maps, and so on. Panda may be helping YouTube to become more visible in Google’s SERPS, but there could be other reasons, too, starting with the sheer growth in the number of YouTube videos.

    Let’s get back to the topic at hand: Panda. What–if anything–can we learn from the Searchmetrics list of Panda winners and losers after filtering out Google products that are baked into Universal Search?

  • http://searchengineland.com Aaron Wall

    Hey looky there, what else is on the list? Android.com.

    It appears we can learn that if you are a Google owned property you can do well in Google’s “algorithmic” updates.

    Seeing a bunch of news sites rank better isn’t surprising. HubPages is interesting. MetaCafe may suggest that (in part since Google has a dominant control over video in general) that they were willing to dial up the entire category of video.

    Outside of the overt nepotism with Youtube and Android, I think the sites that get hit generally tell you more about the algorithms than the sites that don’t get hit.

  • U.L.

    Thanks for posting all these great comments Aaron.

    My sites got hit by some of the other Panda updates but not much this time as I did not even notice the update happened.

    Panda is a complete failure in my opinion. Since Panda when I look up things on Google I usually get basically the same information from the top 5 sites none of which answers my questions or solves my problem because it is essentially the same information and not written by domain experts.

  • http://redhatseo.net R.H.

    Thank you for all that information Aaron. I luckily avoided having websites hit by Panda. Still really Youtube IS a content farm. a High Authority – well estabilished content farm. More and more bots are using Youtube as promotion for spam sites. Its actually easier to get an Youtube video ranking for target easy long tail keywords and just dump some kind of video like “Check information at XXXXXX”. Google’s greed will be punished soon by. Of course they are changing their algorythms to help their own sites. If I were the owner I’d do it also (the site were mine so…). Still they can’t keep claiming they have unbiased algo’s when they clearly are doing stuff to help them.

    @Durant Imboden:
    “but there could be other reasons, too, starting with the sheer growth in the number of YouTube videos.”
    This is an ugly cycle. I doubt the grouwth in the number of YouTube videos is in anyway related to the growth of unique videos with some kind of content! If YouTube has a boost, it will make a huge community of bots and even manual submitters start adding videos with barely no-content just to get rankings, what this will do? Increase the number of videos.

    Panda is a big failure. Hammering duplicated content would be enough to stop content farms. You can get a wordpress scrapping articles and spinning them on the fly and posting on your site, getting a new content farm that isn’t hit by Panda, while other high quality websites are suffering in Google’s Hand.

    The Next Web is a great website that I use to check frequently, with the same or Higher quality than Youtube. Why is that site penalized by Panda then? Where is that old motto from Google where their objective is “Displaying good quality websites” for whoever search them?

    Google Panda is a Joke, and I’m sad to see many good sites getting hammered, when (like previously stated) many products I search on the internet have poor quality review sites ranking from #1 to #3.

  • http://europeforvisitors.com Durant Imboden

    “Panda is a big failure. Hammering duplicated content would be enough to stop content farms.”

    Google never said that Panda was only about stopping content farms, and identifying or classifying duplicate content is more about blocking scrapers than about discouraging content farms.

    Panda may be a blunt knife instead of a properly-sharpened surgical scalpel at this point, but its objective–to rate sites and/or pages by quality–makes a lot of sense. Relevance alone just doesn’t cut it in an index with billions or possibly trillions of pages.

  • TimmyTime

    “Panda may be a blunt knife instead of a properly-sharpened surgical scalpel at this point, but its objective–to rate sites and/or pages by quality–makes a lot of sense. Relevance alone just doesn’t cut it in an index with billions or possibly trillions of pages.”
    ******
    Read your comment again and think. First rule should be not to do harm, not ruin businesses with dubious but profitable updates, and maybe try to figure it out a year or two later. A lot of things make sense but how you go about doing them is key. People’s lives and jobs are on the line.

    EFW /Durant, you can try to be fair next time and not blindly defend Google all the time, I doubt Matt Cutts is reading all your comments.

  • http://europeforvisitors.com Durant Imboden

    TimmyTime, you’re missing the point. If there are 100 or 1,000 equally relevant pages about “widgets” or “Pope Benedict” or “Etruscan art,” it makes perfect sense for Google, Bing, Blekko, or any other search engine to move onto the next step: trying to determine which of those 100 or 1,000 relevant pages are most likely to please the user. Universal Search, personalization, and–more recently–Panda are among Google’s attempts to do that, and Google isn’t the only search engine to move beyond relevance alone.

    Panda’s results to date may not be perfect (as both a user and a Web publisher, I believe the results aren’t even remotely *close* to perfect), but the goals that led to Panda weren’t unreasonable, and one can only assume or hope that, with testing and machine learning, Panda (like other SE algorithms) will improve with time.

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