• TmWe

    Maybe there would have been more recoveries from Panda if Google didn’t give so much instruction misleading webmasters to believe that noindexing, removing or deleting no-value pages was the answer.

    Google could always deal with supplemental type pages, like ?replyto, /archives and so on. Whilst it may be good practise to canonicalise them, Panda wasnt targeting technical issues and it would have been great for Google to set out the limitations of spending time cleaning up cruft.

  • http://twitter.com/CodeWithChris Chris Ching

    Thanks for the Panda update! It’s interesting to watch as the Search Engine landscape unfolds and evolves.

    As someone who was once on the content farm bandwagon, I’ve got to say that the Panda update made the internet a better place for writers and publishing quality content.

    Now I’m trying to build an audience and build trust with cornerstone content.

  • Durant Imboden

    As the publisher of an information site that got hit fairly hard by Panda 1.0 (despite being the recipient of frequent “Thank you for the great site” e-mails from readers), I think Google got it wrong with Panda and is continuing to get it wrong. Instead of looking for signals of “low quality,” Google should be looking for signals of “high quality.” And maybe Google is finally starting to do that, if the Google AuthorRank project is a hint of better things to come.

    As far as “content farms” are concerned, I used to look down my nose at sites like eHow until I need to reprogram the electronic key of my VW Jetta. As I searched various sites for information, I learned that VW uses the same key on VWs, Audis, Skodas, Lamborghinis, and other brands of cars. So it stands to reason that a site like eHow would have a dozen different (but largely identical) articles on “How to reprogram your [Insert VW-owned car brand] key.” If I’m trying to figure out how to get my VW Jetta key working again, I want a page on that topic, and I couldn’t care less if it’s similar to the same site’s pages for owners of dead car keys from Audi or Lamborghini.

    Just recently, I’ve been writing more than 100 pages of walking directions to hotels in a certain European city, complete with hand-edited Google Maps that are more accurate than Google’s own maps. Inevitably, some pages are very similar to others, and I’ll admit that I’ve wondered if Google will see the similar pages as “thin” or “content farm” material. In the end, I’ve decided to let value to the reader trump worries about Panda, and I’m hoping my instincts are correct.

  • Vic

    Very disingenuous of Matt and SEL, Panda above all hurt a lot more than content farms, it killed many small business owners. Now let’s look at the winner of Panda: Google’s revenue, earnings and especially Clicks on Ads. For those that don’t know, so-so content equals more clicks on ads and forces sites that lost traffic to advertise. Google used Panda to make even “organic” search on transactional keywords as Pay-to-Play. Every update means less traffic for all sites, especially smaller ones, and more revenue for Google.

    Google Services
    “Organic Search” = Advertiser sites.

    If you think that Google changes the algo without looking at the ad clicks, I have a bridge to sell you.

    I challenge Matt to write about the obvious.

  • Vic

    Google’s advice is buy ads to get traffic, that’s obvious. Google doesn’t want you to recover, they do not care about you or your family or your effort, they care about their revenues. Compare your earnings pre-panda with Google’s pre-panda earnings and see.

    The number of searches has been going down too but their earnings increase by 30% each quarter.

  • Akash

    Few Panda recovery stories you have mentioned here based on traffic are purely apparent. Because, 2 yrs is quite a long time, and the traffic should increase by 50% more than Pre-Panda time (assuming 20% y-o-y growth).

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Demand Media was one of Google’s biggest AdSense partners. So was About.com. Both got slammed by Panda. Less revenue for them was less revenue for Google. And we’ve written about that obvious fact plenty.

  • Durant Imboden

    The “Google wants to make you buy ads” argument would be more convincing if Panda had hit large, deep-pocketed e-commerce sites that have more money to spend on ads than the average mom-and-pop business does. (In other words, “e-commerce content farms” like Amazon, which seem to be doing just fine in the post-Panda era.)

    Also–and perhaps even more important–information sites (many of which were hit by Panda) typically can’t justify the cost of advertising. If Google’s primary motive in launching Panda had been to jack up its ad revenues, it would have skewed its search results away from commerce and toward information.

  • Matt McGee

    Vic, I have one last client that I consult with in addition to my work here for Third Door Media — it’s a small business with about 10-12 employees and a small, e-commerce website selling about 125-150 products, I think. And with every Panda update except one, this small business has seen more visibility, more traffic and most importantly, more revenue. (The one Panda update that hit the site, we waited it out because we knew that we were doing things the right way, and sure enough things got even better with the next Panda update.)

    Did some small businesses get hurt? Yep. I’m quite familiar with some. And in the cases I’m aware of, it was often small businesses that took the same kind of shortcuts the big companies took in terms of trying to get found by searchers — not focusing on long-term strategies and tactics (either by themselves or by the SEO agencies they hired).

    Panda wasn’t (and isn’t perfect) and Google has said as much. Look through our archives, or do a search for the Cult of Mac story — high-quality content that was hit when it really shouldn’t have been.

    As I said multiple times in the article, for every loser there’s also a winner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bradley.anderson.58958 Bradley Anderson

    Hey, would be nice if you include that infographic – http://www.plagspotter.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/duplicate-content-uncovered-infographic.jpg within the article, would be more user friendly with some nasty graphics involved!

  • http://serverbear.com/ ServerBear Stu

    Been battling Panda for 2 years on one of our coupon related sites (which took a bit of a battering), seeing lots of lower quality sites than us ranking, with thinner content & not much “added value”. Just no indication of what we need to do to beat Panda.

  • sheila219

    If you think Ricky`s story is terrific…, 5 weeks ago my dads best friend also got a cheque for $4504 just sitting there a ninteen hour week in their apartment and they’re classmate’s step-aunt`s neighbour has been doing this for five months and earned over $4504 part-time from a computer. follow the instructions here… jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • http://babypickel.com/vincenzo.html Chenzo

    It is all about that white hat

  • Chande

    $5 click on google property or $0.35 on ehow (and sharing with ehow)… I bet that was a tough decision :D
    This is pure money-driven game…

  • Fernando Rigotti

    Same here.

  • http://www.about.me/kennethtrueman Kenneth Trueman

    Is there not a contradiction between saying that a blog is loved by its readers and then indicating that a search engine update caused you to lose 2/3 of your traffic? Were your readers not bookmarking the site ? (Were they even repeat visitors if you were that dependent on SEO traffic.) Were you not engaging with them in some other fashion other than asking them to type some terms in to a search engine to find you ?

  • http://www.about.me/kennethtrueman Kenneth Trueman

    I have no issues with coupon sites, or sites that sell meds, or other performance enhancers, etc., getting hit by Panda. Hopefully some SEL visitors come at it from the other side of the street.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Interesting numbers but the Search Visibility Score doesn’t take into account how many pages these sites may have deleted post-Panda, so it’s conceivable/possible that some of the sites you claim are “losers” have, in fact, moved into the Recovery phase with less content (thus continuing to earn less visibility).

  • Vic

    >> “The “Google wants to make you buy ads” argument would be more convincing if Panda had hit large, deep-pocketed e-commerce sites that have more money to spend on ads”

    You seem like a Google spokesperson. Is it scratch my back and I’ll scratch your or do you really believe the nonsense you just said?

    Amazon and other big brands are already advertising. Those MBAs designing the algo want non-advertisers to advertise, pushing prices higher. Google has a CPC problem and total searches are decreasing.

    Commerce is already skewed, all ads and advertiser sites in “organic” search. Me and you can lie, Google clicks on ads and revenue is more accurate, unless they are lying to the Feds (unlikely)

  • Vic

    Demand Media my ass, they escaped the first Panda (ironic, the King of Spam escaped) and are now back on page one, often 2-5 times in 10 results. They are huge partners in Youtube too.

    Even with that, do not mistake Adsense with Adwords, on the first Google keeps less than 30%, but 100% on Adwords. Let’s talk numbers Danny, head to SEC and find the revenue forms and increases in revenue, ad clicks and earnings before mention Demand media’s supposed emotion as proof of Google being unbiased. Do it.

    You are not impartial, you have totally ignored the bias of a search engine also selling ads and their ad revenue skyrocketing after each update. It anecdotaly corresponds with more webmasters pulling their hair out.

  • http://www.jasonnation.com jasoncalacanis

    A conspiracy theorist could say Google wanted to keep any one site from getting too much traffic so they basically set a height restriction (traffic) in their town: no one site is going to get above X stories tall on average. By cutting the top 20 players from 100 stories high to 15 stories tall (i.e. 10m uniques to 1.5m), they made room for more players–and perhaps better content.

    Of course, this was done in a horrible, horrible fashion with no notice. Which basically sent a message to folks “you can’t trust google.” As a result, everyone has given up on the “adsense publishing model” of 2000-2011.

    at the same time Google pushed organic result 25-75% down the page on important searches, putting an answer up top (zagat, movie times, wikipedia summaries, etc).

    the timing of those two things looks really bad for google…. but Google can do what they want. it’s America and a free market. Everyone needs to just move on and embrace the things that don’t require search: apps, social, email and–ummm—direct traffic.

    that’s what we’ve done and it’s working… we gave up. you can’t fight city hall… i tried. hard. @jason

  • http://www.jasonnation.com jasoncalacanis

    Just make an App, an email list and be active on Twitter…. give up on search. It’s a waste of resources.

  • Wendy Boswell

    The thing is though, Google’s results have gotten increasingly worse. There’s more spam now in SERPs than there was two years ago, by a long shot. If anything, this series of Panda updates is doing nothing but giving Adsense-heavy, shilling-for-Clickbank/CJ/affiliates-galore sites the top berth while the higher quality sites quietly molder away on the second, third, or more pages. This isn’t rocket science here; to me, it’s obvious that Google is making the cra* sites come out on top purely because it puts more money in their pocket.

  • http://twitter.com/YoungbloodJoe Joe Youngblood

    a good observation that doesn’t appear well seen. upvotes all-around.

    however, i am with the majority that believe panda is incredibly flawed.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Vic, one thing — if you’re going to comment here, and that’s welcomed — you need to fill out your profile more so that it’s not anonymous. Otherwise, that’s a violation of our commenting policy.

    As for not being impartial, I raised the issue of Google having a conflict of selling ads on pages it lists back when it first launched AdSense. You know, like about 10 years ago.

    I raised it well before Google faced any anti-trust action in 2007: http://searchengineland.com/deconstructing-google-chapter-4-after-the-google-antitrust-breakup-13026

    I raised it again after an anti-trust action was filed and neglected this important point: http://searchengineland.com/fights-over-the-google-monopoly-miss-key-points-18916

    The whole “Panda killed small business” is exactly like the whole “Florida killed small business” back in 2003. I suggest you read up:

    If Google killed all the small business back with the Florida Update in 2003, then how is it there were so many around to get killed again by Panda?

    You seem to be arguing that Google used Panda in a way to somehow get more “so-so” content into its search results, as a way of boosting ad clicks there. I can’t say that Panda greatly improved its search result (Google believes it did), but I certainly haven’t come away with the impression that results are now so bad that more people are being driving to click on its ads.

    Frankly, if Google wants to push up revenues, it has a much easier way to do that — paid inclusion. Which is exactly what it did with Google Shopping:


    There is plenty that Google can and should take fire for, especially the ways that it does try to churn up its revenue. But Panda really didn’t seem motivated by that.

  • Matt McGee

    Well, I’m not taking on any new clients. Haven’t taken any new clients for about 2-3 years now. And don’t plan to take any new clients ever again. I have this one client that I’ve worked with since 2008 and that’s all I’m doing.

    And you obviously can’t be reasoned with, so I’ll just say thanks for sharing your comments. I respect your opinion, but disagree with it.

  • http://www.salesblend.com/ David Chevalier

    Demand Media, Inc. admits in the notes to their latest 10Q that they removed content assets. Why are they still allowed to amortize media content on a straight line basis over five years? Isn’t that now proven (because of Panda) to be too long?

  • Vic

    I am going to send you a scan of my passport, it’s in Cyrillic, and you can send it to Google’s Critics Outreach Office :)

    but anyway, we’re not slandering anyone and just having a discussion with different ideas.

    >> “Frankly, if Google wants to push up revenues, it has a much easier way
    to do that — paid inclusion. Which is exactly what it did with Google

    Google is a public company, they live quarter to quarter, and paid inclusion was for the last quarter or 7 quarters after the initial Panda. This quarter they are forcing advertisers to more or less bail out mobile and they have more in store for the quarter after that. It’s a never ending Wall Street story.

    >> “but I certainly haven’t come away with the impression that results are
    now so bad that more people are being driving to click on its ads.”

    Having 10 pages from one site in in the top does make you wonder but Panda is not a monolithic update, true to Google’s official line, it changes and people notice the lack of converting users. Results suck but ads on top, side and bottom are perfect. Hmmmm…

  • http://www.linkbuildr.com/ Ryan @ Linkbuildr

    Just looking at the SERPs I don’t see much of any improvement. Tons of link spammers dominating, thin to no quality content…any medical related term and its a complete mess and downright dangerous almost.

  • Durant Imboden

    I don’t know if there’s more spam in Google’s SERPs than there was two years ago, but if there is, it isn’t because of Panda: It’s probably because search spam has grown faster than Google’s ability to block or filter it. And let’s be realistic: A lot of that spam comes from megasites that automatically crank out millions of keyword-driven pages. (Is there anyone here who hasn’t been sent by Google to a “review” at CNet or ZDNet with only a few price-comparison links for content, a TripAdvisor page that invites the user to contribute a review on a given keyphrase, or a Wikipedia stub page?)

    Forget Panda: If Google wants to improve the quality of its search results, all it needs to do is implement a “stub filter” that works.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    So the new source of traffic is Twitter? That’s just replacing one egg basket with another.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    I still know people making comfortable livings on AdSense. I wouldn’t say everyone has given up on it. Maybe just the investors who shouldn’t have put their money into made-for-advertising Websites in the first place.

  • Lior Zitzman

    We at Motor Trend were very much aware of the Google Panda hit which prompted some optimization. I tried to notify Google of their mistake in various ways and at one time I think it was at SMX West I met one of Google’s Webspam Team members (Michael) and told him about it. It is hard to determine what is the real reason for the recovery.

  • http://twitter.com/Yakezie Yakezie

    We are always more bullish on our content. Is is the human way.


  • http://twitter.com/Yakezie Yakezie

    So what did you guys do exactly to recover? Why do you think you guys got hit?


  • Peter T

    I did really well out of Panda, my site is Drupal base with an XML of cruise content integrated and uses a click to inquire methodology. My Organic Google is up 44% and my direct traffic up 54%, Bing & Yahoo are up around 40%. How ever I need to do a site redevelopment due to the aging version of drupal I am on, site speed issues and some changes in the local online travel market. How do I make sure I take the positive achievements with me when I develop the new site? I am planning to use a different site development team this time around. Any tips in a post panda world ?

  • Matt McGee

    Thanks for clarifying that, Lior.

  • Matt McGee

    By “their” do you mean “your”? Because I’m guessing you must be involved with Examiner.com in some way, Ted, to know about that. And if that’s the case, we’d love to learn more. Might make an interesting case study.

    In any case, I didn’t include them as an original loser – I simply mentioned that the companies which developed the lists of early winners and losers often included Examiner.com on their loser lists.

  • http://twitter.com/screamingfrog Dan Sharp

    Hi Matt,

    I tweeted you earlier, but was ignored so will drop a comment here :-)

    We performed a two year later analysis of Google Panda a couple of weeks ago for the UK market which you can read here – http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/google-panda/

    It performed the same updated Search Metrics analysis as you can see.

    We found that just 6 out of 96 (6.25%) have experienced 100% recovery or more.

    82 out of 96 (85.42%) have under half of their original pre Panda visibility.

    Hence, a few more recoveries than your analysis, but the majority are still losing.



  • Lior Zitzman

    The list is long and I’ll have to dig into it to find all the specifics.

  • Lior Zitzman

    No problem.
    A few of our other sites never recovered, but mainly Automotive.com which no matter what we did, and we are talking about 1-1.5 years worth of dev time, re-org, hiring a dedicated editorial staff which work hand in hand with the Motor Trend staff, redesigning, consolidating & killing/blocking millions of shallow or low quality pages, cleaning our backlink profile, you name it we did it. No love what so from Google. Even with all that going on the traffic never stopped declining until recently, and it now steady.