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Why Haven't Sites Come Back from Panda? Matt Cutts Tries to Explain
walkman




msg:4323316
 6:49 am on Jun 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is a rush(?) transcript from Dany Sullivan's blog so probably not everything is 100% correct. The italics and bolding are mine.
[searchengineland.com...]
DS: Talking about Panda, says that heís getting a ton of emails from people who say that scraper sites are now outranking them after Panda.

MC: A guy on my team working on that issue. A change has been approved that should help with that issue. Weíre continuing to iterate on Panda. The algorithm change originated in search quality, not the web spam team.
....
DS: Has it changed enough that some people have recovered? Or is it too soon?

MC: The general rule is to push stuff out and then find additional signals to help differentiate on the spectrum. We havenít done any pushes that would directly pull things back. We have recomputed data that might have impacted some sites. Thereís one change that might affect sites and pull things back.

DS: You guys made this post with 22 questions, but it sounds like youíre saying even if youíve done that, it wouldnít have helped yet?

MC: It could help as we recompute data. Matt goes on to say that Panda 2.2 has been approved but hasnít rolled out yet.

DS: Reads an audience question Ė is site usability being considered as more of a factor?

MC: Panda isnít directly targeted at usability, but itís a key part of making a site that people like. Pay attention to it because itís a good practice, not because Google says so.

Matt mentions 'pull back' but that's nonsense and very disingenuous of him. Pull back to me means letting a previously labeled bad content rank. We're talking about improved sites and content, no need to pull back, just reanalyze it.

So it's clear to me that this is a penalty. Maybe if you got links from every newspaper in the Northern Hemisphere you might escape but for the rest it looks like it depends on Google engineers. It took them 3+ months to admit it.

 

fakedsysadmin




msg:4324901
 5:54 am on Jun 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've always built websites following Brett's "Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone".

My websites were not affected by Panda.

IMHO, I think now it's easier to build websites a la Brett and at the same time get good rankings without having to use tricks to compete with spam.

heisje




msg:4324927
 10:32 am on Jun 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is a business.


Not exactly:

Google is a monopoly (65% share in the US, 95% in Europe) blatantly, intentionally and maliciously abusing dominant position and restricting trade, for its own profit, while damaging and/or ruining other businesses.

Their PR mantra : all this is for the sake of the consumer. Anti-trust law begs to differ.

We shall see . . . . . .

.

superclown2




msg:4324935
 10:50 am on Jun 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think the strategy for post-Panda should be like yours, in addition to a major site /s. one should do 200 or so word SEO-ed and pretty mych Made For Google 'sites' that target specific money terms. Link them from your existing one and see if they rank. If they rank, great, if they don't it makes no sense to complain given the amount of time spent. You just try with another money term.


Walkman, are you speaking here of single page, 200 word sites? Or sites with multiple pages with 200 words each? I'm a bit uncertain why they should take a week, they are obviously not as simple as they may seem.

Incidentally, if you link them from your existing sites it may be better to make sure that they are not all listed as yours in WMT. I found with a number of new sites that I had indeed listed that as soon as I linked to them from an existing site they fell out of the SERPs. A prety easy target for the panda, really.

Shatner




msg:4325108
 11:19 pm on Jun 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

The fact that we've had 5 pages debating what Matt Cutts said I think is a clear indicator of the problem.

Google isn't being clear about anything. It's all doublespeak.

Why are we even listening anymore?

shallow




msg:4325119
 12:31 am on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Shatner
Why are we even listening anymore?


I was hoping, based on the title of this thread. But, imho, it's just Don Quixote chasing after windmills. If there is any reversing of Panda, no matter what the degree, it will be in spite of all the concerns expressed by those who have been hit by it so badly. We're basically at the mercy of Google.

leadegroot




msg:4325125
 1:00 am on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I do think that if you are sure your site is a false positive, ie you either didn't need to make changes, or you've done the changes and it looks good - and yet you haven't come back, that the next step is to do some link building.
I have this feeling that the sites linking to you having been pandalised means your backlink profile has dropped enough that the on-site quality can't currently carry the site.
IMHO - certainly worth trying. Obviously wouldn't be the time to pick up a bunch of junk links, though!

walkman




msg:4325129
 1:22 am on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Walkman, are you speaking here of single page, 200 word sites? Or sites with multiple pages with 200 words each? I'm a bit uncertain why they should take a week, they are obviously not as simple as they may seem.

No sir, that was another person here that has apparently escaped Panda by doing such sites. Maybe it's a way to prosper? Each page of mine has about that many words in just a somewhat tangent but informational section, and then I show what what the title says.

The point I'm making is that if you are in that situation, it is better to painstakingly go through all of them and convert them into real useful unique pages, then to simply hit the delete button. Because those pages will have been linking to other pages on your site, and zapping them without getting fresh external links will leave your remaining pages dangerously unsupported.
Some pages are tags, that unless you are Huff Post will probably hurt you and many others are "Send-page.pl?774" and the likes. I did suspend quite a few of mine to bring them back later and deleted some since I see no prospect in them (less than 10% of pages). I looked at the links and even at googlebot seeking deleted pages and 301d them. I assume that they had a link from somewhere.

Bottom line about mass deletions: very few people can take a chance with Google, and if Google thinks that their site has still too many 'bad' pages they will be without an income for good know how many more months. Remember it's an inconsistent and ever-changing robot doing the sorting so people are painting with a broad brush hoping to be safe.

Some of course have tens of thousands of them so it's impossible to do them one by one.

Freedom




msg:4325145
 2:33 am on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

How many Panda versions are there?

I am convinced one happened on June 6. With one in Feb, one in April, one in May and another on June 6.

That makes four that I've felt.

If he's talking about another one, I'm sick to my stomach already.

Whitey




msg:4325150
 3:27 am on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have this feeling that the sites linking to you having been pandalised means your backlink profile has dropped enough that the on-site quality can't currently carry the site.

Good point.

Some of the stories about this being heavily weighted towards "social signals" and pure onsite are misleading folks to remedies which alone will be limited. You comment is well spoken.

walkman




msg:4325165
 7:14 am on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Whitey, back-link profile isn't the issue with my pandalized site as afar as I can tell, several sites that link me got higher traffic so even Panda dilutes links this can't be it. Those alone should be enough for a lot more than the measly traffic I get from Google now. Just looks, to me, that Google is still in the penalize mode and then they will start looking to re-run Panda, relax it or whatever you want to call it. Matt Cutts compared it to the Florida update where after casting a wide net they started to 'pull back' (bring sites back?) but this Panda is almost 4 months into it.

It's amazing, nothing you do makes a difference, zilch. Remove pages like Google said, let Google index /remove them, nothing. Add content to existing pages, let google take them every 2 days, nothing changes, other than on site factors ( I tested that by adding a specific title, it works.) Traffic goes down in my pandalized site, rises on my non-Pandalized sites usually at the same time. And there quite a few of the pandalized sites here and other forums seem to move in unison, up and down within a tight margin.

Matt was asked several times on Panda recoveries, even Danny Sullivan got the impression that Panda recovery is more than just changing your site, it depends on Google too for most if not all pandalized sites:
but it sounds like youíre saying even if youíve done that, it wouldnít have helped yet?


Regarding social and other signals: Google probably has to use signals that apply to all sites and use them conservatively to avoid too much collateral damage. They do test them from time to time probably in the SERPS and pull back some, add others and so on.

superclown2




msg:4325172
 9:14 am on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)


I do think that if you are sure your site is a false positive, ie you either didn't need to make changes, or you've done the changes and it looks good - and yet you haven't come back, that the next step is to do some link building.
I have this feeling that the sites linking to you having been pandalised means your backlink profile has dropped enough that the on-site quality can't currently carry the site.
IMHO - certainly worth trying. Obviously wouldn't be the time to pick up a bunch of junk links, though!


I tried that on several sites which promptly fell further. Caution recommended.

dazzlindonna




msg:4325192
 1:13 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

According to a Forbes article today, "On Tuesday Google will announce new tweaks to its Internet search service." No idea if it will have anything to do with Panda or not, though.

chrisv1963




msg:4325218
 3:22 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

that the next step is to do some link building


Translated: Link buying or building spam blogspot pages to link back to your site.

I sent DMCAs for more than 50 blogspot pages today. Each of them had copied texts from my website ... with in text links to other websites.

danny




msg:4325254
 7:07 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I thought I was immune to Google problems - 1200+ book reviews, been around forever (either 11 years or 17 depending how one counts it), simple clean design with Amazon links but not much else, unrequested backlinks from all over, nothing even slightly dodgy - but I've been hit now. Half my reviews have been pushed out of the index by random duplicates with no standing, the other half rank nowhere, and Google traffic is down by maybe 70% or more.

The advice on the Google webmaster forum is that my site is a bit tired and I should jazz it up a bit. But I like Web 0.5!

steerpikegg




msg:4325256
 7:19 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Danny

I have been following your thread on the Google forum.

IMHO it won't make a blind bit of difference if you redesign the look of the site. People on the google forum don't have the first clue what they are talking about.

My betting is that if you change the site you'll damage your serps even further.

supercyberbob




msg:4325263
 7:46 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

It would seem that Danny's drop in rankings is a good example of how messed up some of the serps are.

If these issues are not addressed in the next update, G is gonna get hell in the press.

If nothing else, these guys need to be more honest with what's going on with the algo.

londrum




msg:4325265
 7:50 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

danny: i'm just interested to know if your site might be suffering a little bit because of those new preview images in the SERPs. did your traffic drop a little bit when that was brought in?

AlyssaS




msg:4325266
 7:50 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Danny - I think your site is a really good one. It looks great, loads fast, it's simple to use. I wouldn't mess with the template or look - it works well as it is.

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps you need a bit more text on the homepage.

As to why G dropped you - I think it's to do with Amazon links on all your review pages. For instance, you have a review linked from your home page for a PD James book called "Talking About Detective Fiction".

If you google "talking about detective fiction" (without quotes), amazon.com comes up top.

I think the new algo assumes that if amazon is in the top ten, then an affiliate also touting amazon is superfluous to requirements, regardless of whether they have value that the amazon pages does not have.

Are you able to subsitute those amazon affiliate links with another bookseller? Says Barnes & Noble (I think they are on the google affiliate network). It's worth a try - you lose nothing, as your traffic has tanked - some sales through barnes and noble and the other publishers (I think Random House have an affiliate program through shareasale, most publishers have one) is better than no sales with amazon because G is penalising amazon sites.

P.S. if it doesn't work, you can always put the amazon links back. Switching affiliates is not a drastic change though it may be time consuming.

serenoo




msg:4325267
 7:59 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

About 10 days ago I changed my website. Layout is completely different. Nothing is happened to my serps. Always the same number of visitors from Google.

walkman




msg:4325270
 8:05 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would try Alyssa's suggestion since you lose nothing, but I am not sure if amazon links are it or not. Scidev.net has zero ads and top notch content, yet it has been slammed with a 60% drop in traffic. Turns out they are a non-profit funded by several Western govs to spread knowledge to the world [en.wikipedia.org...] . They are a PR8 and with a back-link profile to make jealous almost any webmaster. Traffic matters to them since they use it to justify funding, and since their mission is to be read as much as possible it matters even more. Content farm they are not, that much is certain.

Road and Travel Magazine also reported the same pandalization in Google forums. One by one they are making their case as desperation sets in.

[edited by: walkman at 8:09 pm (utc) on Jun 12, 2011]

suggy




msg:4325272
 8:08 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Danny, at the risk of sounding rude and even though I am a sceptic of such claims, I would say that the demise of your otherwise high quality site is pretty strong evidence that user feedback is in the loop.

To be blunt, that parred down design, whilst admirable, is going to tend toward the "Yukk, I'm out of here" reaction IMHO, before searchers discover the real quality. Superficial I know... please don't take it personally.

Do you have any stats on your bounce rate for (Google) search traffic?

serenoo




msg:4325276
 8:24 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I watched scidev.net only for 1 minute. They have html errors: not validated. The link at the bottom are like text: it could be a way to hide links. Personally I do not like it.
scidev.net
www.scidev.net
are 2 different pages, but I do not know if that is important cause I always redirect to the www.

HuskyPup




msg:4325278
 8:27 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

@ danny - I've also been following your thread.

My betting is that if you change the site you'll damage your serps even further.


I agree, there's nothing wrong with your site or your urls as suggested by someone, sit tight, don't mess with anything.

brinked




msg:4325283
 9:00 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is way too much speculating and theorizing going on in this thread. This thread is the perfect example about the effect panda has had on webmasters.

Matt Cutts has not said anything valuable here. They are fixing the issue where scrapers are outranking the original source and they will be releasing a new version of panda at an undetermined date. Googles latest algo class has some bugs to be worked out and they are working on fixing them and improving on them...this should be assumed in the first place.

I am interested to hear about when webmasters start recovering from panda (oh wait thats right its not a penalty, so how can we recover from it?) and what they did to improve there site in the eyes of google. This thread and these forums are becoming more of a support forum for panda victims.

supercyberbob




msg:4325289
 9:32 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

brinked has got a good point.

If Danny is reporting that scrapers are ranking above him, another way to look at this is, that in itself is an issue.

In other words, way too much emphasis on Danny's site, and not enough emphasis on the sites that have pushed him down in the serps.

Hopefully that makes some sense.

Reno




msg:4325290
 9:34 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

This thread is the perfect example about the effect panda has had on webmasters....Matt Cutts has not said anything valuable here.

I came to the conclusion years ago that Google's warped policy of "Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt" (FUD) is a kind of corporate mental illness. The elites in the Googleplex apparently get a thrill watching all the efforts & time that the rest of the world must waste trying to make them happy. Otherwise, they would actually SAY something. So their mouths move but they say almost nothing. As much as anything they remind me of a sick kid dropping a frog into slowly boiling water ~ it must make these little people feel hugely important knowing that they have the power to trigger tens of thousands of slow deaths (metaphorically speaking). I picture them high-fiving each other over their sushi, anytime someone in the Googlelounge smugly relates to the "gang" how confused & frustrated the members are at Webmaster World and other such forums. I have nothing but distain for their useless babble, and it will remain that way until they understand that this is not a game ~ people's family incomes are at stake. Stop treating us like little toys ~ cut out the spin and speak clearly, or not at all.

...................

tedster




msg:4325301
 11:03 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I know it's fashionable in some circles to paint Google with that brush, but it's not at all how I see them. There's no such malicious intention.

What I do see is the result of relatively naive idealism - as well as an academic mindset. These fueled the company when it was small, and now that they are large, they're still in the overall mix.

Google made the decision, early on, to communicate with webmasters, and they communicate a LOT more than any other search engine. This immediately smacks up against another reality: Google can't afford to give away the secret sauce. In addition, they are a publicly held company and need to be mindful of public perception.

Another angle they need to watch is the fact that webmasters are a very diverse bunch. What one very savvy webmaster thinks Matt Cutts or Amit Singhal just said is a lot different from what another thinks was said. In other words, because there is so much communication, we webmasters can create a lot of our own FUD.

It's very easy to project our own mindset onto an other - easy but dangerous. It's very easy to think of "a company" as if it were "a person" - also dangerous, because companies are not people. Especially as they scale, companies show emergent phenomena that no individual person would ever display.

And most of all, it's tempting to constantly ask "friend or foe" - but sometimes the answer is "not either one." If we want to see Google as our enemy, then we make that our reality. I do not choose that approach, and I do not have that experience.

Question: how many times has an SEO viewed ranking at Google as "just a game", rather than as affecting real people working at a real business? I just recently read a webmaster comment that ethics don't enter into the picture with SEO, because it's just computer code talking to computer code. But it's not. It's people -- using to computer code to communicate with other people. Ethics are just as big an issue here as with any other human endeavor. On both sides.

Shatner




msg:4325372
 7:47 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

>>>It's very easy to project our own mindset onto an other - easy but dangerous. It's very easy to think of "a company" as if it were "a person" - also dangerous, because companies are not people.

I agree. People need to think of a company as a COMPANY. Not a force for good or evil or anything else.

Here's what's universally true about corporations: They are motivated by profit.

If it benefits Google to tell you the truth about what they're doing they will. If it does not, they won't.

In my experience working in the corporate world, corporations almost never tell the truth about what they're doing... because it almost never benefits them to do so.

They aren't good or evil, they are motivated purely by self-interest.

People can be altruistic. Corporations, at their root, cannot.

So I'm not sure why people just accept everything Google says as truth. Odds are it's not.

danny




msg:4325383
 9:33 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the feedback, guys.


Londrum asks: i'm just interested to know if your site might be suffering a little bit because of those new preview images in the SERPs. did your traffic drop a little bit when that was brought in?

I didn't notice anything. But I doubt that would be a big enough effect to be noticeable in the regular noise.


AlyssaS: As to why G dropped you - I think it's to do with Amazon links on all your review pages.

That's possible. I doubt the Amazon links in themselves are a problem - every person and their dog has those - but possibly that's an issue when coupled with the fact that I have 1200 reviews in an "organised" structure.

I tried adding Book Depository links briefly but those had no traction, and I've tried B&N in the past, again without much success, so unfortunately Amazon is by far the best affiliate option for me. So I'm reluctant to remove them just on spec.


suggy: Do you have any stats on your bounce rate for (Google) search traffic?

I don't have systematic stats, but yes, there are a lot of people who come in off search engines and view one review and nothing else. I don't see that as a problem, though -- if someone does a search for "<author> <title> book review", then they're probably going through all the reviews they can find online and I don't expect them to hang around on my site. I don't think I'd improve their experience by aggressively pushing "subscribe" options at them. And I'm not convinced that a "shinier" looking page would make much of a difference here, either.


HuskyPup: there's nothing wrong with your site or your urls as suggested by someone, sit tight, don't mess with anything.

That's largely what I'm doing. So far all I've done, apart from trying to DMCA the highest profile duplicate site, is to remove a couple of insanely long "all title" and "all author" pages (with 1000+ links on them). They only existed as legacies from when the site had far fewer reviews, and were hardly useful any more.

[Edit: italicised quotes]

[edited by: danny at 9:57 am (utc) on Jun 13, 2011]

danny




msg:4325386
 9:55 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

steerpikegg: IMHO it won't make a blind bit of difference if you redesign the look of the site. People on the google forum don't have the first clue what they are talking about.

It does seem highly unlikely to me that Google's algorithm cares much about style, or that they could want all the web sites in the world to look the same. (Wordpress the World?)

In any event, my site looks the way it does because a) I like it that way and b) it seems to work for my users. (I get much more feedback praising the simple design than I do asking for discussion forums or other features.) I could add those forums, or do the whole Twitter/Facebook social promotion angle more aggressively, but surely there's still room for Web 0.5 (as I like to put it - Web 1.0 without the cruft).

londrum




msg:4325387
 10:01 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

danny: if its always worked in the past then its tempting to leave it the way it is. but maybe that is not a very good way of looking at it. all sites can be improved.

there are some things that you could easily add to "pretty" it up a bit. at the very least, why not add images of the book covers? that would not be a sop to panda -- because that would actually be useful to the readers.

you can pull the images straight from amazon using their developer tools. that way you wouldn't even have to host the images.

This 238 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 238 ( 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 > >
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