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Ecommerce Sites and Panda - Patterns

 5:58 pm on Mar 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

First, I thought it would be good to split out a separate thread for Ecommerce.

I've been following this thread today:
[google.com ] and was wondering if anyone thinks it has any feet to it?

I can see some indications of this on my own site. Not with the snippet but rather dates from product reviews appearing as part of the caption google displays.

The theory here is that a product review is making an ecommerce site being considered a forum, possibly pushing down the site's ranking.

More interestingly, I can see competitors that I've been following with no product reviews have moved to the top after 2/24. I've also seen sites with reviews but that display them differently, typically by having to click a link to activate reading them, also fared ok/stayed flat.

This is the first concrete pattern I've been able to develop in my sector. Until now everything else has been randomness...every time I saw one thing I could disprove it soon thereafter.



 7:27 am on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

This thread (with no official Google input) is discussing one site or at most two - and that does not make a pattern. It's also not clear to me that this is a Panda ranking loss. In fact, the second poster says "about two weeks ago" and that's around 3/5. In other words, definitely NOT Panda which rolled out around February 24.

However, the topic is still quite interesting because it involves Google's document classifier system - which in turn relates to their automated taxonomy system. I personally believe Google generates taxonomies for at least three areas: 1) query terms 2) user types and 3) websites (the document classifier system). If there is a mismatch between any of those three taxonomy assignments, then rankings can be or can become problematic for that reason alone, and it is not a penalty.

This is my own personal sense of things - but it helps me understand patterns I've been noticing for at least two years.


 8:55 am on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)


Number two interests me. Are you saying that Google provides different results for different people, depending on how they classify you?

I have not seen that.

Number 3 seems reasonable. It seems like I have read where the Google algorithm tries to determine authority sites. For them to do that, I would think they need to classify sites.


 9:11 am on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, I'm convinced Google has personalization types, and I'd say it's only going to get more granular. The most obvious type is by geo-location of the user, but there are others - especially recent queries and revisions of queries.

I'm currently attending SES NYC, and over dinner several members of the party were discussing their tests in this area.

One of the interesting areas to check is Google Suggestions. They are showing quite a lot of variation to different users, and they can even change as you type and back out of query revisions.

If you think a bit about these taxonomies and how Google might mix-and-match results based on them, a lot starts to become clear. Some query terms, for example, deserve fresh results but for others, freshness is not a strong factor. Others searches may be ambiguous, for example both transactional and informational.


 12:47 pm on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tedster, do you think it is possible that an ecommerce site can be viewed as a forum because of something like product reviews and if so do you think this is intentional by google or an error/possible cause of miscategorization of ecommerce sites?


 1:08 pm on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

We do not use prodcut reviews and we were still hit


 1:56 pm on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

My content is dated all over the place, some of it years old that just took a hit.

Dates be gone, we'll see what happens ;)


 2:03 pm on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

This doesn't really sound like a panda thing.


 2:04 pm on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

The possibility of Google being confused as to how to classify my site has concerned me for several months, as I've wondered if it was becoming a problem.

Could it be possible that Google is seeing one type of site (informational), then another type (ecommerce, for the small section of products I sell myself), and then doesn't know what to make of the other part of the site, where retailers advertise?

Google didn't have a problem with this before, but that's when searches were based upon relevancy. If the new algo is trying to fit everything only into round or triangular or square holes, it could be a problem.


 2:16 pm on Mar 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think the problem here is people are looking for a quick fix, a single signal, but this update is way more complicated than that. It appears to be taking in a complete array of signals to combine into whether your site gets a penalty or not. Not only that, it appears to be a site-wide thing, not just page level, so global changes will most likely get results.

I'm yanking anything that could be a trigger but the problem with a site as large as mine, which takes weeks to reindex, is because by the time Google determines to rank pages back where they were before, there will be so many changes in place knowing which exact one fixed the problem will be merely guessing.

The kind of pattern I'm seeing is PR 4 pages that used to get #1 ranking moved to either the bottom of page 1 or onto page 2. The next level of pages, similar to ecommerce products pages as an example, that used to rank in the top 10, have mostly been pushed down 30, 90 or way way down. There are clues, some pages that have exceptions, but the clues aren't big enough to indicate a clear signal vs. the other pages as they look pretty identical at first glance.

External factors may also come into play with this update because that seems to be able to make some difference, external deep links seem to be able to pull some of those pages out of the panda toilet somewhat.

Another interesting side note in my situation is there has been a slight shift in Google's suggestions for the terms in my niche as well.

More research there later...


 2:50 pm on Mar 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think the OP has something here as I'm finding lots of my listings "dated" like one page showed the most current update as "Sep 7, 2001", which is OK, that's the last date new content was added on the page but it's still all valid data.

I think Google is misinterpreting that date with other meanings for my sites.

Let's see what they do as re-indexing continues.


 11:31 pm on Mar 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Someone in another thread [webmasterworld.com] pointing out a similar pattern of old content dropping:
Some patterns re their traffic drop:

1. Traffic for branded keywords remain strong.
2. Keywords where the landing page is their home page are not affected
3. Keywords for their key products (books) are not affected
4. Keywords most affected pertain to the old papers (2005 and older). These are the oldies but goodies that get the most traffic
5. Names of their experts (those with long bios + long list of papers published) have disappeared; other staff member pages including former experts are still ranking at the top


 1:21 am on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

incredibill I too see dates being displayed in search results for all of the pages for a site that got hit.

How do we know from where google picks up these dates? is it enough if we remove them from the page code on which it is displayed?


 2:46 am on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

No clue - I have an RSS feed and a "New" page, plus at the top of any category of content it lists the new stuff first, and most of the pages from that part still ranking high are all pages with brand spanking new content.

No clue if we can break out of this once the page is tagged as being date sensitive, but my stuff really isn't date sensitive, so I pulled the plug on all dates except the 'new' page.


 4:15 am on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

incredibill I too see dates being displayed in search results for all of the pages for a site that got hit.

I just searched a few random snippets of text from my homepage (full sentences), that I added in January. Google returned over 6,000 results. Each of those pages contain MY content (or at least the snippets I searched). Several of those pages are outranking me. One of those is a 1-page junk Wordpress blog (no ads, just my content from my homepage). Furthermore, some of these listings have dates by them (some dates as far back as 2009). These dates give the searcher the false impression that the content on those URLs was created years ago. Alas, it was created by ME two months ago. This could be construed as outright lying by G...falsifying the records in the index. It's bad enough that the content is stolen, but then Google shows a fake date beside it.

I have NO IDEA where Google is getting these dates. Again, this is content that I added just 2 months ago when I reworded parts of my homepage. Now other sites are outranking me for it and Google is indexing over 6,000 stolen duplicates?!?!?! And the random dates from years ago being displayed by the description is beyond me. This is a BIG BIG BIG Fail by Google. They should be ashamed of themselves and truly embarrassed.

<<If I sound angry, I am...I will feel better tomorrow, I am just tired of redoing all my hard work so leeches can have my content. Two weeks of content rewrite, deletion, DMCA, etc. Thanks Google. You only did a disservice to my visitors and to those who will now be sent to a scammers 1-page blog using my content>>


 6:26 am on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google always promotes "social engagement" of websites. And If comments and reviews are bad, how in the world can an ecommerce website socially engage their visitors ?


 6:34 am on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have NO IDEA where Google is getting these dates

It appears to be either from the content itself or dated content linking to your content.

Not sure yet, but if my suspicion is correct, if your site isn't dated then any other site with dated content *may* inherit the date across as a way to assess the age of your content.

Just speculating at the moment, but I've been researching some of this for a couple of days now and if I'm correct you might be able to tank someone's site by "date bowling" them down a few years.


 8:09 am on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes, I'm convinced Google has personalization types, and I'd say it's only going to get more granular. The most obvious type is by geo-location of the user, but there are others - especially recent queries and revisions of queries.

It would be good to be able to turn that feature off. I looked in the search settings and didn't see that - yet. When I search I want to see what everyone else sees, or at least those with the feature turned off.


 1:11 pm on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

other than date, the other factor seem to be partial content scraped across sites.It could just be one to three lines copied across sites and you could get bowled with a quality penalty, pushing you down anywhere in page 2, 3 or beyond.

Looks like they have tweaked the duplicate penalty more for sites who are partially scraped than in full. If this were true, it is totally crazy.

But I do see this commonality in pages that have tanked.The content in may of these pages are copied across forums.The date tweaks are adding salt to the wound.


 2:18 pm on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

The most obvious type is by geo-location of the user

Local queries in general seem to have been consolidated and coalesced making fewer locals to chase as well therefore people squabbling over ranking for just "birmingham", or "birmingham, AL", "birmingham, alabama" etc. are finding they're all in the same results pool now so some aspects may not exactly be a penalty, just 3x-5x more competition for the same term, unless dates are factored on top of it.

Also, I'm seeing some consolidation of certain search criteria where "birmingham widget", "birmingham widgets" and "birmingham widgeting" now return nearly the same results, or a site is anchored about in the same place on all 3 results where it used to rank individually per results.

Lastly, prior to Panda, the suggestion in my niche was almost always the plural for "local widgets", now it's most often "local widget". However, some longer versions are still plural like "local leaping widgets" located under "local widget". The plurality issue is only a possibly problem if you always ranked better for the previous plural suggestion than the new singular one, but not always.

So many frick'n changes it's hurting my head trying to sort out whats relevant to the penalty vs random changes in how the SERPs are working which are unrelated, or are they clues?


The above may not be seen across all locals, I'm seeing lots of variants.



 3:18 pm on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Don't aarrrrrgggg just yet Bill, save some for when users start blocking content too and everyone ends up with custom serps, lol. Getting solid metrics then will be... fun.


 5:08 pm on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Custom SERPs?

I thought those were here already, seeing this criteria selector on the side of my SERPs:

o Any time
o Latest
o Past 24 hours
o Past week
o Past month
o Past year
o Custom range...
ex: 5/23/2004

o Sorted by relevance
o Sorted by date
o All results
o Sites with images
o Wonder wheel
o Related searches
o Timeline
o Visited pages
o Not yet visited
o Social
o Nearby
o Translated foreign pages
o Reset tools

Don't even know how long this has been going on, just noticed a few days ago.


 5:41 pm on Mar 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I see the Custom SERPs too. I don't see "Social" though.


 7:47 pm on Mar 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

For the past few days, I've noticed a large number of search results for products from domains ending in .co.cc
Pick any product and you'll see what I mean. Sometimes they are the majority of results on pages 2 and 3.
What is this and why the sudden increase?


 8:00 pm on Mar 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

We are seeing this too sometimes 2 or 3 on a page there just sites that take you to amazon.


 11:47 am on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm studying a theory that the ecommerce platform you are on affects how you made out in Panda. For instance, a few large stores on the Yahoo platform were on the Sistrix list. Not meaningful on the surface because of the large number of stores on that platform. Moderator, is there a way I can create a poll on this forum to list some of the more common platforms like Miva, Volusion, NetSuite, Magento, etc.?


 4:10 pm on Apr 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

We don't have a polling feature - but people whose e-commerce sites were hurt by the Panda Update are welcome to list their platform here (including "custom").

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