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Analyze Panda Losers That Don't Fit The Mold
Shatner




msg:4297725
 5:55 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

So we've had two iterations of Panda now, and with each iteration has come a publish list of the biggest losers. We all know, if we're honest, that a lot of the losers on those lists deserved to lose and lost for obvious reasons.

The point of this thread is to pick out the sites from those lists which DO NOT fit that mold, sites which it's not obvious why they lost, and figure out why they were hit.

In doing so, maybe we'll understand why Panda has hit so many here who don't seem to deserve it either. Here's the list of sites to discuss, I suggest we take them one at a time and simply go down the list one at a time and each list reasons we think each site might have been Pandalized. Once we think we've come up for an explanation for that site, we check it off and move on to the next one:

prnewswire.com
blogcritics.org
cinemablend.com
digitaltrends.com
technorati.com
daniweb.com
popcrunch.com
techradar.com
reghardware.com
pcadvisor.co.uk
techwatch.co.uk
just-food.com
computerweekly.com

 

netmeg




msg:4297827
 7:46 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't look at the ads. I'd look at everything else.

Like, can you FIND the content? Does it appear to be written by a human? Is the percentage of content greater than or equal to the sum total percentage of navigation + header + footer + ads + anything else that is replicated across the site? If you look away and then look at the page, is the content or even the logo the first thing your eyes land on, or do your eyes go first to the ads as tedster mentions above? Is Joe Random User, upon landing on the page, going to know instantly what that page is about?

That's where I'd be spending some quality analytical time.

brinked




msg:4297828
 7:48 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

tedster, I think google is targetting the typical profile for MFA type sites/pages. They likely have an algorithm that detects ads per content ratio, also where the ads are located probably factors in as well. If they feel this site is trying to attract attention towards the ads rather the content then the site must not be high enough quality and therefore pandalizing them. Makes sense to me, obviously they have a much more complicated system then that but I really think thats the bones of it

Shatner




msg:4297832
 7:50 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@brinked let's keep this specifically about the sites listed in the first post, not general. If you think it's ads, give examples from the sites listed.

Everyone can we please keep this specifically about those sites?

Lots of other threads with general theories.

jinxed




msg:4297834
 7:54 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

blogcritics.org

First impressions: Noisy. cluttered. Too many ads in positions where the content should be the focus. Too many different fonts/styles/formats.

brinked




msg:4297836
 7:56 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

FWIW looking at techradar and computer weekly both have a a lot of ads on there articles. computerweekly has a block ad blended in the actual article which is typical MFA behavior and techradar has an affiliate shopping portal below there story.

Popcrunch has 8 ads that I counted on there article pages, 3 of which are the same advertisement just in different formats.

I dont think I have to review the rest to get an idea they probably all have a lot of ads on there story pages. I think we should also look at similar sites that were not hit and then compare.

Shatner




msg:4297837
 7:58 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Re: Blogcritics.org

They have tag pages which are not noindexed.

Example: [blogcritics.org...]

Is google seeing those as "thin" content and penalizing them for it?

tedster




msg:4297839
 8:00 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

daniweb is another on that list with a very heavy "non-content" area at the top of most pages. Dani herself floated the idea that it was all the short replies and ESL (English as a Second Language) posts that hurt the forum's traffic, and she did not agree with the criticism that the pages were too top-heavy with ads. Nevertheless, that is what I see.

And again, we're talking about "Losers that don't fit the mold". For years, Daniweb has been a successful forum and the content is decent - certainly not from the Content Farm mold. It was a painful surprise to see them take a 40% traffic hit.

Shatner




msg:4297844
 8:03 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@brinked Let's compare the ads on blogcritics.org to the ads on slashfilm.com (which wasn't hit)

#ads on Blogcritics content page: 6 (not counting Amazon affiliate)

#ads on Slashfilm content page: 4

Both sites have ads mixed in to their content area. Both have ads above the fold.

If you mix in the Amazon affilliate links on Blogcritics, they do have a LOT more ads than Slashfilm. But the ads they do have are all positioned in pretty much the same places.

Both have really heavy non-content areas at the top though... and actually I'd say Slashfilm's non-content area at the top is a lot bigger than Blogcritics.

jinxed




msg:4297846
 8:09 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Slashfilm has structured their pages better - itís easier on the eye and doesnít have many obtrusive ads.

Oh wait.......

As I write that, a massive rollover ad appears and nearly covers the whole screen. Annoying.

brinked




msg:4297894
 9:18 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think the 6 banner ads is way too many. Having an affiliate ad on the same page as well makes it a target. You only really need 4 ads max on any given article page, any more is complete overkill IMO and may cost you loyal users.

My_Media




msg:4297900
 9:21 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hey Tedster,
Did webmasterworld.com benefited or punished by these 2 algo. I assuming it should benefited since it got only one small ad on top right corner.

[edited by: My_Media at 10:13 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2011]

walkman




msg:4297905
 9:27 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

HuskyPup, you are missing the point entirely. Some sites get away with it (like site wide links) others get CRUSHED.

crobb305




msg:4297928
 10:08 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

www.cinemablend.com/ -Dark background colors
www.digitaltrends.com/ -Dark background colors
technorati.com/ -Dark background colors + ads above fold
www.daniweb.com/ -Dark background colors + thin pages


On some of these, I don't consider them "dark" background colors. Some have blue or green headers, but many of the pages have white backgrounds (like Technorati) and cinemablend.com has a nice orange background. I have a site that soared during panda, and it has a very dark blue header and a blue background. Only the content area has a white background.

Some of the other examples that have black backgrounds may be playing a role. Perhaps it's "certain" colors that are a turnoff? I agree that many of these examples also have ad banners sitting at the very top of the page (turnoff). Many of them also have sitewide navigational menus with dropdowns (I don't see the problem with them, but it has been speculated before that it may be a negative).

[edited by: crobb305 at 10:10 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2011]

Shatner




msg:4297929
 10:08 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ok so let me sum up our theories for why Blogcritics.com might have been penalized, then we can move on to the next site and see if we find anything different.

POSSIBLE THEORIES
1. Content to non-content ratio (including ads) may not be good.
2. Confusing navigation
3. Tag index pages which Google may see as "thin content"
4. Dropdown menu which creates a large quantity of internal links.

MOSTLY DISPROVEN THEORIES (at least for this case)
1. Dark background colors
2. Original artwork/logos

We're off to a slow start but maybe we can find more in other sites.

Let's do the next one:

cinemablend.com

Any red flags which may have triggered Panda, whether they are the same or different from blogcritics?

[edited by: Shatner at 10:16 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2011]

crobb305




msg:4297933
 10:11 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

2. Confusing navigation

Possibly even expand to include sitewide navigation, especially drop downs. Pages with a disproportionate amount of internal links (due to links from every page in a navigational dropdown menu), relative to other pages that aren't included in the menu, could be getting penalized.

Shatner




msg:4297935
 10:15 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

>>Possibly even expand to include sitewide navigation, especially drop downs. Pages with a disproportionate amount of internal links (due to links from every page in a navigational dropdown menu), relative to other pages that aren't included in the menu, could be getting penalized.

Good point and they do have a dropdown menu which means a LOT of internal links. I'll add that to the list for Blogcritics.

Bewenched




msg:4297939
 10:21 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well that might explain why we were hit, we have a black/fade background.

Humm.... is google racist ... j/k

I'm absolutely blown away if this is true..

We have no ads
14 year old site
Always whitehat
we did have a few ads running on discontinued products, but no more than 1 per page and on less than 1% of the total pages on the entire site.

Just changed our background color (ahh.. i'm blind)
-------
Regarding cinemablend.com
1- very slow to load for me (10+ seconds) and I'm on a T1
2- ad in top of page, second one above fold

[edited by: Bewenched at 10:27 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2011]

crobb305




msg:4297940
 10:22 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

cinemablend.com

1) Again, another ad atop every page
2) Sitewide navigational link, some with dropdown
3) I had to close the browser on three occasions because some ad popped up forcing me to watch a commercial or preview and the "X" to close the box wasn't working

I had to stop looking after #3 because it was annoying. Visitors closing browser, returning to SERPS?

Shatner




msg:4297943
 10:27 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Bewenched try to keep topic focused on things you see on specific sites listed which might have caused their Panda problem.

Shatner




msg:4297944
 10:28 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@cobb

I don't think having just an "ad atop every page" is an issue. Can you point out any site which doesn't have an ad at the top of the page?

But what may be relevant is the ratio of content/ads&non-content space. How does that measure up?

crobb305




msg:4297952
 10:36 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@cobb

I don't think having just an "ad atop every page" is an issue. Can you point out any site which doesn't have an ad at the top of the page?


I agree completely - ads in and of themselves are probably not the issue. JohnMu even told us back in March that ads didn't play a big role in the algorithms [seroundtable.com...] From a user's perspective, what I am seeing on about 60% of the domains you listed in the original post, are large, slower-loading banners atop every page (or I should say -- at varying points on the page, but many seem to be at the top). I think the load time for the image may be a bigger negative than ad/content ratio. I am always tempted to close a page if the elements take forever to load.

Sorry for getting off focus on the cinema site. I know it was up next... I just wanted to clarify my point.

We're doing good so far and this is a good thread Shatner. :)

willybfriendly




msg:4297959
 10:45 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Original file names? Like "logo.png", "header_1.jpg" or"nav-bkgrnd.gif"?

Google is far, far beyond that, just as they most assuredly do not give a boost for <img src="cheap-airline-tickets.com" alt="buy cheap airline tickets" title="cheapest, most inexpensive airline tickets for sale on-line" />

I would say the same about background colors.

It is what you are not seeing that is making the difference. You are chasing red herrings...

crobb305




msg:4297962
 10:51 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

It is what you are not seeing that is making the difference. You are chasing red herrings...


I tend to agree with respect to most of the visual elements, but this is a good thread to try to find some common ground. Without having the algorithm secrets, we need a starting point.

I pointed out that I have a site that soared after Panda 30% in a very dark template. It has very clean code, loads very fast, and has good text to html ratios. I do have a couple of affiliate links on minimal pages, but those apparently made no difference. I use no banner ads generated from a network or another server. That's why I was making a statement a moment ago about server requests (for banner ads), slow-loading elements, etc., which is a commonality among many of the sites we are examining.

[edited by: crobb305 at 10:58 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2011]

BillyS




msg:4297963
 10:51 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

blogcritics is a classic, drill down into some articles. I count eight different ads.

I also did a calculation on the area of the target content versus other items. There were 570 units of space on the page. The content represented 70 units of space. That works out to 12.5% of the HTML (not counting margins) dedicated to content. That's thin in my mind. It looks more like a giant ad than information.

Shatner




msg:4297967
 11:06 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@crobb So you're suggesting in addition to the ad to content ratio being a factor, loading times of ads may be a factor? Or do you just mean the overall loading time of pages, which may also be impacted by ads?

Want to clarify which you mean.

Shatner




msg:4297968
 11:08 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Billy That calculation could be really useful. Can you do that same calculation on all the sites in the list, display the result here, then we'll see if there's a common theme... like they're all below 30% or something?

aakk9999




msg:4297970
 11:12 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

cinemablend.com

For me, too many things are moving on that page. The top green banner, the purple add whose button is flashing and then as a third - the main flash. The are also all moving with different timeframe, and it just makes me unsettled looking at that page.

Another thing that I have noticed is that apart from a few exceptions, all sites in the list have moving ads, and many more than one. On many the big banner ad in the header moves and many also have at least one more ad that moves or changes picture.

[edited by: aakk9999 at 11:12 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2011]

crobb305




msg:4297971
 11:12 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Billy That calculation could be really useful. Can you do that same calculation on all the sites in the list, display the result here, then we'll see if there's a common theme...


Can anyone recommend a tool that can compute whitespace? I have been looking all over for something to help me do this. Don't think we can make a public recommendation, but if you know of one, feel free to send me a message, and I will try to run some tests on these sites. Looks cumbersome to manually go through and calculate ratios by hand. I think excessive whitespace (in addition to inappropriate text/html ratios i.e., sloppy code) could be additional signals of quality (ESPECIALLY sloppy code).

Shatner




msg:4297975
 11:28 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@aakk You're right about the moving ads, but the only way I could see that having an impact is if it's somehow reducing time spent on page.

Also remember that all the similar sites which were NOT impacted by Panda which we outlined earlier have exactly those same types of ads. Actually I think almost all major sites have those kinds of ads.

Dan01




msg:4297977
 11:32 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Shatner,

As per PRNewswire - Companies that hire PRNewswire to create a press release don't want PRNewswire to rank higher than them. I don't have a problem with duplicate content on PRNewswire being hit by Panda. Also, I have seen spam on PRNewswire. Basically, it is all about promoting your business.

zerillos




msg:4297985
 11:39 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

About the ads... my market is completely dominated by a certain website since panda. They are premium publishers and have six adsense blocks on each page...
I've always suspected them of foul play, but i never really managed to put my finger on it. Over the years they have been penalized again and again, even de-ranked at one point. Panda came and made them kings of a very competitve market...
Even so, i have to admit, their SEO is one smart dude, at least in my eyes. If i managed to really understand what is he doing over there, i bet i could get a few really good pointers...

In conclusion, i strongly believe that ads have very little influence regarding panda (i did not say NO influence)

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