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This 386 message thread spans 13 pages: < < 386 ( 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 ... 13 > >     
Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal Share Insider Detail on Panda Update

 10:54 pm on Mar 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Senior member g1smd pointed out this link in another thread - and it's a juicy one. The Panda That Hates Farms [wired.com]

Wired Magazine interviewed both Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal and in the process got some helpful insight into the Farm Update. I note that some of the speculation we've had at WebmasterWorld is confirmed:

Outside quality raters were involved at the beginning
...we used our standard evaluation system that we've developed, where we basically sent out documents to outside testers. Then we asked the raters questions like: "Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card? Would you be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids?"

Excessive ads were part of the early definition
There was an engineer who came up with a rigorous set of questions, everything from. "Do you consider this site to be authoritative? Would it be okay if this was in a magazine? Does this site have excessive ads?"

The update is algorithmic, not manual
...we actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side. And you can really see mathematical reasons.



 8:49 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

...and I fear we [site writer] are indeed a dying breed.

Yeah, I know personally, and the people I've talked to or know of would generally buy from a major retailer online if they do (did) buy online, but you would be hard pressed to get a sale if you're not one of them, unless you offer a specialty service...

Why would I buy from, or want to see an affiliate, if I can go straight to the source or a site like Amazon, where at least they have a company name, reputation and image to protect so they need to make sure things are up to par?


 8:58 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

"So who is waiting for the "fix" and who is starting to make changes now? "

I'm not making any fix because in my honest opinion, nothing was broken. And if you fix something that isn't broken, chances are you'll make it worse and/or just get ganked on it later on.

I've seen enough updates in the last 10 years to know that after one of these major things, trying to "fix it" is pointless. Chasing the algo is always a losing game. It's like trying to beat a Casino at their own game.


 9:02 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

TheMadScientist - well im not an affiliate - but I compete in the serps with amazon and amazon affiliates for the same product!


 9:04 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

"So who is waiting for the "fix" and who is starting to make changes now? "

Fix one thing at a time, or you won't know what worked and what didn't.


 9:05 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

you're either HUGE or you're low quality?

I'm quite small, less than 2k pages total and only two people working on the site part time. Since the update my Google traffic is up at least 10%.


 9:06 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

There might still be a chance for the 40 percent losers (myself included in that) to receive a comeback if there is indeed a "fix" to the algo that's coming.

So who is waiting for the "fix" and who is starting to make changes now?

I am definitely in the collateral damage bucket if you are calling it by the loss defined above. I took a step back and assessed what triggered the issues on my site vs competitors. I see that I have a bad layout with adsense, with content not properly integrated above the fold.

I also have serious external duplication issues. I had a thread on google webmaster forums and a Top Contributor assured me this fix was on its way and that I should wait it out.

I still want to make sure that I am doing what I can to improve my chances of restoration. If anything, I am showing a good faith effort to improve usability on my site.

I am focusing on markers that may confuse the algo. I am controlling ad layout better. I am making sure I am squeaky clean.

Worst case scenario: I file for site reconsideration and present my case. They will see that I made the effort to fix all the mixed signals on my site. I will explain how my profile could have been confused and what I have done to remedy the things I can control.

So yes,I am making changes now, even as the Google webmaster forum rep told me they are fixing the duplicate content issues that exist out of our control.

What's very strange though is that I have a competitor with the ugliest site ever, with 4 huge ads above the fold. I have another competitor with ZERO ads above the fold and has a very simple site. So I find it odd that the ad-less guy got hit. So I am not sure what is going on there. Are dofollow affiliate links a trigger?


 9:08 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Further, on the question of size vs. quality, I don't think that's what was meant. I think he was talking about the distinction between huge sites that are high quality (NYT) and huge sites that are low quality, of which many examples have been discussed here.


 9:13 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't think i agree with you - that may not be what they meant, but I think its what happenned, because they were thinking inside the box.


 9:18 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Perhaps we need to reaaaaallllly get google to break it out then, for people who are SHOPPIING, which is HUUUUUUUGGGGGE, one set of SERPS, for people who are doing research, of finding information ANOTHER. Because the problem here is that with ecommerce, the more moolah, the bigger gorilla you are, the more content you can provide, not necessarily the better experience or quality in terms of, dare i say it, shopping. When I want to buy certain things, yes, I got to AMAZON. Others, I go to ZAPPOS (guess what that is), but for handmade jewelry? Neither. For Pottery? Nope. WHen I want something really unique and handmade? Or very specialty? I realize there is not o100% but goog has got to know that whether they 'like' or 'respect' being a shopping mall, they are. (I suspect they love it, thinkg of the revenue). So, my point is, focus on it in a diff way than if you are talking about wikipedia info. And amazon, guess what, its not always the source - because we little girls and guys have to go ON amazon and sell THRU them simply because they are giant gorillas and because of that kick our a's in ranking.


 9:26 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

It boggles my mind as to why a website seems to think by stuffing more adsense ads leads to more clicks

Well, one reason they may think that is because the Adsense team keeps telling them that. For years now I've resisted Google's urgings to put more adsense units on my site -- now I'm glad I didn't listen to them!


 9:44 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

For years now I've resisted Google's urgings to put more adsense units on my site

If Google Adsense and Search are two seperate depts - you would think that the Adsense dept would want to maximize its earnings. If Adsense ads are causing the problem - it would be logical that the Adsense reps will probably be giving different advice in the future. They want sites running their stuff to rank higher. If they are are truly independant it would be in their best interest to game the search algorithm and pass the info onto webmasters.
As a sidenote has any one else seen a steep increase in epcm since the changes were applied


 10:20 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Really hate how google did their human sampling... Willingness to hand over credit cards and receive prescriptions relate to ecommerce...but ecommerice is a small percentage of the web! Most websites don't directly sell things.

So without realizing it google with their stupid tests has rewarded large websites that sell stuff. When I use google, I 99% of the time don't use it to buy something but to learn something new. The big 'status-quo' name-brand companies and our 'trusting government sites' actually don't contain that much new information...it's actually the smaller more independent sites (like this one) that tend to contain information one wants. This is because independently produced content is of higher value.

So the result is the likes of Wal-mart and Amazon are huge gainers even though we already know all about them and they don't really have that much new to share. Recently have done a lot of private research and I'm getting a ridiculous number of non-relevant shopping sites that are muddying up the results that I didn't see before. "Appeal to Authority" is a common debating fallacy but apparently at google it makes for good SERP's :( Matt doesn't seem to realize that just because a site isn't a government site doesn't mean it can't have better information about "pediatric multiple sclerosis".

As for being so proud their results matched "chrome site blocker" this is absurd... The web is a huge spectrum of quality in which these big abusers are a small percentage. To emphasis this 'fix' across the spectrum means, yes they will knock out the bottom say 1% of sites but will drag down a significant percentage of sites on the 2-40% end of the scale as well. It's like google asking "chrome site blocker" if chopping off the foot will catch a wart on the pinky toe..yes it will but it misses the point. Now what do the non-farm collateral damage sites and actual farm sites have in common? They apparently don't have that big corporate/government structure backing...could be ridiculous domain ages / page count / site structure or a number of other ridiculous non-content variables that really don't pertain to quality.

Sorry for rant...just can't believe how clueless some of these google engineers are when this should be stats 101 :(


 10:23 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Fix one thing at a time, or you won't know what worked and what didn't.

Ok, but how long to wait ? week, two or month(s) ?


 10:30 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

If Google Adsense and Search are two seperate depts

It looks like the Adsense team and the Search team are working AGAINST eachother instead of working together. Not a good sign for the future and for the shareholders.

The Adsense team encourages us to place more ad blocks. The Search them penalizes us for placing more ad blocks. ?

As a sidenote has any one else seen a steep increase in epcm since the changes were applied

Yes I did.


 10:45 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Rather than quote smithaa02's whole post I can only say that's about one of the most sensible posts I've seen about this algorithm update since it began. If the Google people are reading this thread they could surely learn something from what smithaa02 said.


 10:59 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wonder what the response would be to "Does this site have excessive ads" for Google search results pages :p


 12:13 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

All my sites have been hit, only the two where I did not add a single adsense block were not hit. It is just plain dumb.

All of them share the same design and functionality.


 12:33 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

It is just plain dumb

Well said, Ad-sense is their main business. It will definitely hurt them.


 12:41 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you make any changes (you probably have to now) please let us know how long it takes Google to bring any rankings back


 12:49 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

walkman, I have added adsense to the sites which were not pushed down ... will see what happens.

But I have the feeling it doesn't matter what I change at the moment, everything looks stale, no movement at all.


 1:00 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Who are google to define "quality" and refuse to list sites they deem "not quality"? If a site is poor quality it will die all by itself in time, unless it's a spammer.

Google are a search engine. They should return the most relevant results they have, not the prettiest. If they have a spam problem that's their problem not ours - fix that and get on with things: it's easy enough to determine the real baddies from IPs and domain registrations plus a bit of serious searching by their own SE. Unfortunately, that's partly why the internet is collapsing: no one wants to kill the cash-cows.

If I go to a site that gives me what I want I may think "not very well made" but I still use it. I even used to use google for searches, despite the SERPS having some of the worst technical problems I've come across. There are loads of errors per page and their general quality (results AND layout) has become abysmal!

When it comes down to it, a lot of small sites have been making a lot of customers, ecommerce- and information-seekers, happy for several years (I have entries in a directory to confirm this, plus customers of my own). And google now tell us we shouldn't use those sites any more?

I stopped using google for serious searches over a year ago, apart from the occasional research of google itself; and I log into Base once a month for a single customer's froogle which I would prefer not to do.

I wish I could block google in robots.txt but I can't because my own customers and their customers would complain. But one day...

Google is obviously killing (or trying to kill) a lot of useful sites. It has no reason to, apart from hubris and the general arrogance of graduates who think they know how the world works. They never do: it takes years of living!

Of course, they will not recant. How could they?

One consolation to those of us once-google-philes now disillusioned by google: for every person put out of a job or even disappointed by google results, a dozen or more people will move to a new engine; they will also tell their friends. That's how google got built, that's how they will die. Soon, I hope, but I fear it will be later.


 1:13 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's how google got built, that's how they will die. Soon, I hope, but I fear it will be later.

That's why when I hear someone in public say "Google it", I say, did you mean "Bing it", to paraphrase Google, literally. We have to help the cause along by reprogramming people.


 1:49 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

A few days ago i started using bing for searches, other than the ones related to work. I just couldn't find what i needed on google. Just crappy results with no info and just a few images. It was like quiting smoking. It was a reflex to type google.com. imagine the surprise i had when i figured out there are also other search engines...

But that's besides the point.
My main site got a hit of about 20-30%(was i a direct target or collateral damage?). A subdomain of my website was not hit at all. It even got a boost of around 10%. Both the main site and the subdomain are very interlinked. The difference between them, apart from the content and source code, is that the subdomain has only one ad unit per page, and it was not updated in more than 3 years. I don't think it's the number of ads per page that's causing this, but their positioning.

Another observation: i think the new algo has at least two parts: one dealing with farms and one dealing with MFAs. They work separetly and their rankings are then combined. You got hit by one (people saying it's the ads) or by the other. Some might have got a hit from both sides.

In the end, the most upsetting part is scrapers ranking higher and taking all the credit... and the money, for my work :(. Even more upsetting is the fact that google seems to no longer answer copyright complaints....


 2:29 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I found it interesting that the article was decisively SITE specific (ie:would you trust this site) as opposed to page specific.

It leads me to wonder if all sites were just pushed through the filter once to get a ranking or if this filter will repeat itself on every new page, repeatedly.

If it's the former, a site having gone through the filter and gotten a poor grade may as well be put out to pasture, for now.

An entire site receiving a poor grade leads me to believe that even new HIGH quality pages will not change that grade, at least until the filter is run again.

I find "one time pass" filters highly unfair because they catch different sites at different stages in development. Rank a new site poorly, before you know what would be published a month later, and it's conceivable that the site is permanently harmed by this filter ?!


 2:42 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sgt_Kickaxe, that's the question, when will they re-run the filter?


 2:50 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Nice to see that some people are finally starting to understand what is going on.

The writing has been on the wall for years:

Google has, is and will use its traffic distribution power to maximize its own bottom line. Period.

Just like everybody else who has traffic to distribute.

The 'Panda' update, just like every other update before, has ONLY one single purpose: Putting more money into Google's coffers.

As an advertising company, Google cannot have any interest to drive free traffic to any website who sells advertisement outside the Google ecosystem.

If you use Adsense to monetize your site you will get the left-overs that Google cannot (yet) monetize themselve.

It is only a matter of time until Google stops to distribute traffic for free. Users will find everything they need on Google properties.

Google started to 'organize and make available the information of the world' - they just forgot to mention that they will scrape it from where ever they find it and then present it as there own.

As incrediBILL said (at least this is how I understand him) noCache is not good enough...it's time to BLOCK the Googlebot!


 3:44 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Moderators, please remove this comment if it is not OK to add code in this forum.

Here is the Javascript No follow sample if you are interested.

1. Add jQuery in the header.
2. Add class 'js-nofollow' in your link
3. Add url in the rel tag.


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<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" dir="ltr" lang="en-US">
<head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11">
<title>Your Title</title>
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<a class="js-nofollow" rel="http://www.twitter.com/" title="Follow us on Twitter" target="_blank" href="#">Follow us on Twitter</a>



 8:04 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is reacting to save its lazy @ss and taking down many sites because of it. Google's latest 'inventions' were copying Yahoo (instant search,) the Bing look and tabs...and preview. Now after being called by others over the months they react to stories driven by the media, instead of acting at their own pace.

Who knew that Google would crush sites based on looks or on how many ads they had? Google Adsense sends emails to add 3 ads on each page. Now thin pages and duplicates can cause you to go broke, I remember Matt Cutts saying that Google can filter them out and choose the best, but use tags etc so we can find the content.

I'm very unhappy with this.


 8:14 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Willingness to hand over credit cards and receive prescriptions relate to ecommerce...but ecommerice is a small percentage of the web! Most websites don't directly sell things.

That's an interesting idea. The very act of including these criteria may have created an e-commerce friendly algorithm.

To take it further, if you got raters to say if a site "feels like it was written by a real person" you might get a blog-friendly algorithm; if raters are asked to say "The motives of this site are pure" you'd get a bias towards non-profits and away from e-commerce.


 10:16 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

react to stories driven by the media, instead of acting at their own pace.

Wasn't it established (by the Google employee moultano on HN) that this update was in the works for perhaps a year?

Heck, even the Wired article suggests it's been in the works for a fair while (but then they run into some difficulties, but had a breakthrough a few months ago).

All this does suggest that Google weren't *reacting* to the recent stories per se. And indeed, they were working on some sort of 'anti-farming' update BEFORE the media stores (and subsequent joining-the-bandwagon) stories started emerging?

On another note - I can understand some of your other points though. It is especially annoying that Google search and the web spam team are hinting that the ad-to-content ratio shouldn't be abused (EZA abused it with sometimes 7-8 ads per page, and look where it got them!), and at the same time Google AdSense are sending out bulk e-mail saying to spam our pages with ads.



 11:29 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does anyone have any news on when this update will be applied on Google.ca and other countries?

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