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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
tedster




msg:4276281
 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.

 

ken_b




msg:4277887
 6:04 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Panda update


Geeze, I wish could we settle on ONE name for this event and use it consistently, at least here on WW?

Panda, panda farm, farm, farmer, blah, blah blah ....

Google sends enough confusing signals without us adding to the mix.

pageoneresults




msg:4277889
 6:05 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Maybe some of you folks who have been whacked could post your site in the Review My Site forum? I'd surely like to see a quality site that took a hit. I really would.

scooterdude




msg:4277891
 6:09 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

erm, if I might ask, is hubpages considered to be a low quality site ?

I struggle with that concept

outland88




msg:4277907
 6:19 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ms. Fox comes across as a hired gun doing damage control for Google to me. At the least she seems intent on quelling the publicity. I didnít even think she worked for Google anymore or was that Ms. Mayer who once claimed the omnipotence of Google. If Google employees are parading the streets of Egypt advocating the overthrow of a government I have no problems with people complaining about what many now perceive to be as a greedy search engine.

I particularly liked her point regarding responding to the masses. Honey, Google doesnít like responding to anybody whether it deals with Search, Checkout, Adwords, or Adsense. Anybody can receive far better service disputing a $60 phone bill than you can get spending $5000 a month with Adwords. As for sympathetic Google engineers where is that? Please, most canít get past front line form letters from Google India.

TheMadScientist




msg:4277914
 6:32 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Content_Ed you seem like that other poster Disgruntl_Ed today.
... :) (laugh) (: ...

Remember Google is only one a search engine and there are other place to get traffic, so my advice is to try give them the proverbial finger and find some of them, because they're out there if you look and it's just going to keep getting tougher and tougher to rank from here on out ... I really think the part about it getting tougher is the point VanessaFox was trying to make, and it may not have been the right style for you (I understand your point) but there are quite a few people who need a wake-up call, because they depend too much on an algo that's not in their control to pay their bills.

I hope your site comes back, but, I hope either you find some other traffic too, because this is a tough unpredictable game we play and they probably aren't ever going to tell us the rules, except generally and from there it turns in to a 'choose your own adventure' game.

Broadway




msg:4277916
 6:33 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I absolutely sympathize with anyone who was hit by Farmer. I've been hit in the past by algo changes. With this update, however, I've been lucky.

What I wanted to say is that my main site is divided into distinct subdirectories and all have benefited from Farmer except one (it's off by 25%).

And absolutely the pages of this subdirectory are thin in content, much of which is marginally duplicated (on other pages in the same directory). Farmer absolutely nailed it.

The hit pages are the ones I always found somewhat embarrassing (I wouldn't want these to be the first pages for someone I respected to see).

These are the pages I only created from the motivation of generating income, not making the web better or serving web visitors.

Farmer simply made it clear to me that others saw these pages as spammy too.

The whole development of this section of my site never took off (low traffic, not much money). Because of Farmer it was easy to decide to remove them. I feel more proud of my site now.

JohnRoy




msg:4277930
 6:51 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ironically, some who got hit don't want to acknowledge and listen to advise from ex-Google employees; while some who didn't fall with this update, don't grasp why advise and sympathy needs to be given.

vanessafox




msg:4277933
 7:01 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I haven't worked for Google in three years and it really doesn't matter to me if they get good or bad publicity. I was just trying to provide actionable advice for people who have lost their traffic and want to get it back. Someone who feels their site was unfairly impacted might be justified in spending their time being public about that, but as we all have finite resources, I figure that time is better spent taking steps that will actually restore rankings.

It's the approach I tend to take with most things (not just those related to search engines). I can be right or I can accomplish my goals. I'd rather take the latter.

ismailman




msg:4277946
 7:18 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is the thing. Has there been anybody that's stated they've been able to restore their rankings?

The only site that I know of is cultofmac, and they went out things in a very public way, which I don't think will work for most people.

elsewhen




msg:4277956
 7:25 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

The only site that I know of is cultofmac, and they went out things in a very public way, which I don't think will work for most people.

i think people (including the site owner) are jumping to conclusions about cultofmac vis a vis the new algo.

check out the latest quantcast data... select US only (since the algo has only been rolled out to the US thus far)... you will see that this last weekend is just a few percent better than the previous weekend (the first weekend after the algo update).

i think he (and many other observers) have not been considering the spike to his site due to the official iPad 2 announcement hoopla from last week.

elsewhen




msg:4277971
 7:51 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

@vanessafox i think your article at search engine land is a great proactive look at what can be done for those affected... but i worry that you are overemphasizing analysis of the rankings of individual pages.

sure the rankings of some pages are flat, some pages are way down, and some pages are even up for some of those affected... but does that mean that we can immediately assume that this is due to the algorithm looking differently at those different pages? i can think of at least three reasons why we shouldn't jump to that conclusion:

1) all of google's official language about this update is about sites and not pages... here are some excerpts (emphasis mine):
This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sitesó-sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sitessites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

Sites that believe they have been adversely impacted by the change should be sure to extensively evaluate their site quality. In particular, itís important to note that low quality pages on one part of a site can impact the overall ranking of that site.

2) your rankings are not just about your site, they are also about sites that you compete with in the SERPs for particular queries. if a webmaster has a site that was dramatically affected by the algo change, and she finds a ranking that was not affected, maybe that just means that despite a downweighting, their site did not fall below the next highest competitor in that SERP.

similarly, we can explain a downweighted site that actually moved up in the ranking... perhaps it was because another downweighted site was more impacted because much of their incoming link equity came from other downweighted sites (and therefore they had the 1st and 2nd order impact of this algo change)... to give an example:

before the algorithm change:
#1 site A (about to be affected by algo)
#2 site B (about to be affected by algo)
#3 site C (will not get affected by algo)

after the algorithm change:
#1 site B (was affected by algo, but only directly, and moves up into the vacuum caused by the drop of site A)
#2 site C (was not affected, and moves up into the vacuum caused by the drop of site A)
#3 site A (was affected directly by algo, and also because much of their incoming link equity was diminished, because it was sourced from other sites impacted by the algo.

if you are the owner of site B, you may be tempted to think "oh my gosh, google loves that page because it moved up in the ranking," but in fact it was conditions around you in the SERPs contributed to your improved ranking, not anything in particular about that page.

3) google said that this algo change impacted 12% of searches... maybe those that see sections of their site not impacted and other sections dramatically impacted are just seeing this 12% at work. the sections that were not impacted were just part of the 88%, and the sections that were impacted were part of the 12%.

yes, in the end this is about pages, because pages are what make up a site. but, i think there is a chance that it is foolhearty to look at the impacts to particular pages and then assume that the pages that went up are the high-quality ones, and the pages that went down are the low-quality ones.

amit made it very clear that webmasters should improve the low quality pages on their site by saying that low quality pages can drag down higher quality ones... but that doesn't mean that webmaster tools ranking data necessarily uncovers the low quality ones.

to be clear, i am not saying you are wrong - rather, despite extensive analysis of this algo update, i haven't seen the evidence to suggest that you are right in the assumption that WMT ranking info can yield insight into which pages google now deems as high vs low quality.

freejung




msg:4277972
 7:55 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

The one site of me that got hit has got, besides a lot of content, a photo gallery as well. Each thumbnail is going to a seperate html page (without ads) to show a big version of the picture.

Could it be that G sees these as thin-content pages?
Would it be a good idea to remove them, even though my visitors like them (lots of comments)?

My entire site is a photo gallery along the lines you describe, with a separate page (with ads, in my case) for each image. The images have captions but few are longer than 100 words. As I've mentioned before, my traffic is up at least 10% since the update.

I don't think it's as simple as measuring the number of pages on the site with little text on them, or as simple as measuring bounce rates.

My current theory is that they've found some clever way to measure user first impressions.

falsepositive




msg:4277975
 8:00 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would really like to hear from sites that are seeing any kind of improvement whatsoever, especially after they make changes to their site. I haven't heard of anything except CultofMac either and who knows if their traffic improvement was indeed from Google? This tells me that nothing much has happened yet, in terms of adjustments made? Otherwise, we'd be hearing about it right?

I'm just trying to hold onto some hope here. I was nowhere in this universe when the Florida update hit, so have no experience to fall back on. But would be grateful from those who went through that change to let us know what happened after that situation. Did they do rollbacks? How often were readjustments made?

Given the scrutiny they are getting now (more ppl are aware of this), maybe we'll get a better response now than then?

zoltan




msg:4277980
 8:09 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

dickbaker, thanks for the code.

zoltan




msg:4277982
 8:12 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

pageoneresults, where is the Review my site forum? A link would help. Is it a specific category under WebmasterWorld?

ken_b




msg:4277983
 8:14 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Zoltan;

where is the Review my site forum?

In the paid Supporters section of the site.

austtr




msg:4278007
 8:54 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tedster....

think "measuring engagement"


What are your thoughts on possible/probable indicators that an algo might look for to measure engagement?

Leosghost




msg:4278008
 8:55 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

@elsewhen ...coherent analysis of what was actually said ..ticks a lot ( if not all ) the boxes ..certainly explains better than "each page on its own" what I see ..

@freejung
My current theory is that they've found some clever way to measure user first impressions.


They did ..part of it was called "preview" ? ..remember the little magnifying glass next to entries in serps..

What I mean is ..if one looked at the "preview" and clicked through to the page ..they at least can assume it looks appealing / engaging ..too many ads may have reduced click throughs ..even while the page stayed high ..until the "appeal factor" data was folded into the mix.

ehow doesn't look too bad ..in "preview" ..you have to read it to realise how shallow its treatment of any subject is...and many don't realise even then...

It looks appealing ..and sticky ..and converts..( one presumes ) ..to Joe and Jane average surfer ( who neither know or care where the spun remixed content author ) got their "inspiration"..

JohnRoy




msg:4278017
 9:04 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Has there been anybody that's stated they've been able to restore their rankings?

Some stated here they're seeing gradual improvement. I'm certain it's from taking action (and going public - is not an option).

AlyssaS




msg:4278023
 9:13 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is the thing. Has there been anybody that's stated they've been able to restore their rankings?

The only site that I know of is cultofmac, and they went out things in a very public way, which I don't think will work for most people.


Well, from my experience dealing with G's filters in the past, they take seven days from when they re-crawl your site to when the results shows up in the search rankings.

Some people may have made changes immediately, but a lot of people have wasted time hoping things improve.

Also - it's hard to isolate the effect of a change unless you only do one change a week, or if you have many sites affected, do a different change on each site to find out which change is working.

Also, if your site has been dropped, it's hard to get them to re-crawl you, you end up wasting days in frantic manoeuvres to get the bot to notice you.

FWIW, I had one page drop from page 1 to page 3 on 24th Feb because the backlinks to that page were from article directories that got hurt (eg Ezine). I made some new backlinks from good places, and I am at #10 on page 1. Not as good as the pre-algo #6 but an improvement nevertheless. It took 10 days for that to happen. Hope this helps.

browsee




msg:4278025
 9:13 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

it's important for webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a site can impact a site's ranking as a whole. For this reason, if you believe you've been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.


Wysz from Google just posted this comment on Google forum. One useful thing he mentioned - "Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.". I believe he is talking about sud domain. If so, it is good to move thin pages to a sub domain.

elsewhen




msg:4278026
 9:17 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)


What I mean is ..if one looked at the "preview" and clicked through to the page ..they at least can assume it looks appealing / engaging ..too many ads may have reduced click throughs ..even while the page stayed high ..until the "appeal factor" data was folded into the mix.

great insight! i think it certainly belongs on the list possible signals of quality.

jimbeetle




msg:4278033
 9:35 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

"preview"

I'll second the great insight! Google isn't going to do something just because it's pretty. Google does something because it could be measured.

js2k9




msg:4278039
 9:46 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google does something because it could be measured.


Or because it keeps more visitors on their own pages instead of them clicking through to see.

elsewhen




msg:4278046
 10:11 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

browsee, great find... i think there are a lot of important nuggets from Wysz' post:
Our recent update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites, so the key thing for webmasters to do is make sure their sites are the highest quality possible.
evidence that this is site-based, and not page-by-page

We looked at a variety of signals to detect low quality sites.
further proof that we shouldn't be looking for a magic bullet to explain why some sites were impacted and others weren't. sites could have been impacted for different reasons.

In addition, it's important for webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a site can impact a site's ranking as a whole.
this is just a re-iteration of amit's previous comments.

For this reason, if you believe you've been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain.
further indication that there is some sort of threshold that they are looking for... as browsee quoted above, removing poor quality pages can help you move beyond the quality threshold, and thereby regain your rankings.

the other promising thing about his post is that it really does look like this is not some permanent blacklist... in other words, there are things that can be done to get a site un-downweighted.

Leosghost




msg:4278053
 10:27 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Or because it keeps more visitors on their own pages instead of them clicking through to see.


Except at the time it ( the "preview" )covered up some of their own property (adwords or maps,places ) ? ( I cant remember which ) but that surprised many of us..at the time ..for a while..until one thought about it .

It kept one on serp page ..only if the preview wasnt attractive enough to engage ( Ted's phrase ) a click through.

It was brought in IMO to measure visual appeal ..( in advance of actually triggering a click to see ..and the text could not be read )..but one could see if they were ad heavy pages ..and some previews are equivalent to at least 3 scrolls down ..plenty of time to judge ..and G were watching and measuring from the get go ..the "sauce" has many ingredients..want to help an algo element act like a human ..let it observe humans without them realising they are being watched.

G are trying to teach the algo ..they are apparently willing to take a temporary hit to their bottom line to do so ..long term they think they will make it back.

They are interesting to observe ..and they understand the Heisenberg effect and allow for it ..us lab rats talking amongst ourselves about the lab and the experiment(s) helps them too..;-)

koan




msg:4278060
 10:55 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

In addition, it's important for webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a site can impact a site's ranking as a whole.


This is what makes most sense to me, of all other explanations. If the problem is content farms and their use of authority and high PageRank to try and rank for every possible (usually high paying) subjects by generating great quantities of pages, with no real care about genuine quality, then you come up with an algorithm that penalizes sites with a high ratio of thin, poor quality pages. That way, they can't continue polluting the search index without consequences on their own performance and have to refocus on making fewer, high quality pages.

I will focus on blocking or reducing exposure to pages of little use to searchers.

js2k9




msg:4278063
 11:03 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Leosghost

You are right my friend. I do think Google is giving up a little bottom line here and sacrificing their bottom line for quality. That is a big plus for them on my book, which is what makes Google the best search engine out there, 10 miles ahead of Bing.

dickbaker




msg:4278068
 11:34 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Geeze, I wish could we settle on ONE name for this event and use it consistently, at least here on WW?


How about the, "I hope I don't lose my house" update?

Content_ed




msg:4278076
 12:02 am on Mar 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Mad

Google is just one search engine?

What, are you looking into a new career as a troll?

I really wonder how many people here have taken the time to read the full list of sites reporting problems in the Webmaster Forums thread. Yes, there are some MFA's an other questionable sites in the mix, but there are plenty of high quality content (as in "content_ed) sites.

elsewhen




msg:4278077
 12:03 am on Mar 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

koan... i think that is a great point... those of us who initially reacted to this algorithm update by pressing google to do its quality analysis on a page-by-page basis, were not thinking about the incentives that this would send out.

if google were somehow be able to judge quality on a page-by-page basis, there would be no disincentive to publish a lot of crap on a good domain... now, in the new world we are in, there is a massive disincentive to adding mediocre-quality pages to a good domain. this is going to help reduce the growth rate of pages google has to crawl.

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