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|Feel Like a Panda Pinata - playing "guess what google is doing"|
Since I've put in more than 15 years building my websites for my business, I'm still hesitant to pack it all in, which is what I'd like to do.
What gets me is the degree to which I now HAVE to write for Google, when all along, I've been writing for visitors. When most of my longer articles receive NO referrals from google and the shorter, or even ezinearticles does better (there's only a few from there from the early days, what else is there but to guess, try, guess.
I notice Google announced a platform on which to host mobile sites. Cool, I thought, although my sites function pretty well in mobile devices. Then, Um. If I duplicate my site there for mobile, then I'll have duplicates of all my sites.
Or will I?
Another. My books are published and sold through various ways. So, it makes sense, that since I get royalties from my books, that I'd link to amazon, where they are sold. But wait. Am I being penalized because I have two links that look like affiliate links to my OWN books?
So how AM I supposed to link to my books in a way that makes it most convenient for people to buy?
I don't see how anyone can run a business over time by trying to "guess" what's supposed to be done. I'm afraid that while Google may really want to provide the best search results, I say again that there is a point where the lack of information is going to drive businesses elsewhere.
Got a call last week from adwords rep soliciting, and I put them off due to time. Today I realized I won't give them a penny to add another guessing game from Google.
I'll go to Facebook before I use adwords again.
Closing down another site today. Decided to completely suspend new web content development on all sites. Content may be king but if nobody reads it who IS the court jester.
I feel your pain. I too have a site that has always been an authority in it's niche and for good reason. Well researched and well written content, lots of resources etc...
Unfortunately April 11th I lost 80% of my traffic. Overnight. I'm not a "get rich" type - I simply just want to be able to earn income that allows me to be home with my kids (mom of two). And this Panda ordeal is making me feel like i need to update my resume and head back out job hunting.
I am frustrated because I have taken a hatchet to my site trying to cut out this PANDA CANCER. (Or should I call it PANCER?) But my site is now on life support. Nothing helps.
Awesome backlinks....doesn't help.
More quality content...doesn't help.
Site redesign, better code, cleaner pages and navigation and load speed optimized...doesn't help.
Check for duplicate content....none there...still, doesn't help.
More social media (Twitter/FB stupid crap)...doesn't help.
One ad per page....doesn't help.
More visitor interaction (blog comments/polls/whatever)...doesn't help.
Basic SEO....doesn't help.
Reinclusion submission....doesn't help.
High bounce rates on certain pages....fixed, doesn't help.
Hacking out low traffic pages via deletion, noindex...or whatever "proper" method of the moment (and I mean MOMENT for sure! Don't blink!)....doesn't help.
None of this helps. I will clarify by saying I am in NO way an SEO expert. I'm not and I don't want to be. I just want things to be fair. And this isn't a cry-baby post either. I see what is ranking in the top ten for my main keywords and I pown them all! So this just sucks.
I feel like Google is trying to create it's "perfect" internet race and well....I don't fit their "profile". LOL
Supposedly they LOVE their new algo and all that Panda brings to the table - so consider yourself screwed - I know I do.
Wish I could be more brilliantly positive - but I see NO recovery, not even minimal increments.
You're telling my story, coachm. I figured another couple of years of this (pre-Panda) and I could retire. I actually looked at a house on the coast of Northern California as a retirement home earlier this year.
I've been on a media tour with Googlers, as a 'picture of success'. Been to the 'plex a dozen or so times, too, as an invited guest.
Now I'm questioning whether or not I understand anything about Google or the Internet. I'm afraid to start any new sites because, despite hundreds of thousands of happy users, I apparently don't understand what is 'good' on the Internet.
I'm actually watching the neighbor's kids this Summer for suplemental income. I hope I can make it until the end of the Summer when they are in school, so I can look for a job.
I keep telling myself that it might take a year, maybe two, but eventually Google will come to their senses. Am I too optimistic? I just don't know.
Is anyone going to offer anything constructive? I feel very much for anyone who loses traffic from a Google change, but at this point in time there's no value in any further commiserating.
Here are some answers to specific points the opening post raised:
1. Dedicated mobile sites are not considered duplicate content in any spammy/penalty sense. There is plenty of information online from Google about how best to execute - and no reports I've seen about a problem.
2. Yes, you can link to books on Amazon without a problem - yours or others. Just offer something different than what the Amazon page offers, and as the author I'm sure you already do that.
difficult as all sites are different and there may be factors combining in a particular way per site or rather, I think, per page or section. Working the other way .. what have people done that have made no difference ? that may be more telling and debunk some ideas.
|Is anyone going to offer anything constructive? |
It may even be a culmination of factors that just push you over the edge - unless Panda is re-run on a regular basis it may take some time to get back deserving sites.
Tedster I know I'm a newbie for these parts, but seriously. So it's best to bury head in sand, not say anything and guess if other are experiencing a similar fate? In other words, no communication amongst webmasters, everyone in the dark, nobody knowing if it's just them. Interesting. That's what I'm reading into that. I thought this was a meeting place for webmasters to discuss what is happening with them and their sites. Sharing thoughts I would think is part of that. I get the feeling that isn't what is supposed to happen. I respect that. I may not agree with it and it isn't my place to judge. There is no place I respect more than here. Unfortunately it appears that open discussions about personal impacts or stories are not welcome. Like I said. Not knowing about others is like snipping the wires of communication. Without associations, there is no power. There is no nothing. If you can't talk about personal impacts then I guess the world must be fine.
Does there need to be anything constructive or can there be sharing of Panda experiences? To say Panda hasn't altered the world as we, webmasters know it, is slightly ignorant to say. In my small piece of the world, right now, this is the biggest and most dramatic thing that has happened on the internet to webmasters. Yet it seems we can't discuss those feeling here. Okay, got it. On topic folks! As mentioned I respect the people here more than anyone or anywhere else. This place actually should be the place where collectively webmaster could say listen, this Panda has destroyed my livelihood. It's ruined my finances. It's turned my world upside down. I think people started this thread to share those sediments. I share the same bleak outlook on the internet right now. That may change in a week or two, but I personally see the giants, CNET, Engadget etc owning the rankings. Afterall, quality, freshness etc etc. Can't get +1's if people can't find you. It's over folks in my opinion.
I'm outta here.
|This place actually should be the place where collectively webmaster could say listen, this Panda has destroyed my livelihood. It's ruined my finances. It's turned my world upside down. |
People do share that kind of thing here... a lot. But part of my answer is "no - I don't want to read a forum that's ONLY full of complaints and giving up."
I'm really hoping for a discussion that goes further. I hope to have people sharing insights and successes, too. There ARE people who are doing better since Panda. They may have a lot that's worth sharing - if we don't chase them away with month after month of doom and gloom. In past weeks, we've tended not even to believe them when they did post.
So I noticed that coachm got into some very specific topics about mobile versions and duplicate content, or linking to Amazon. No one had anything to say about those topics. They were part of his post too, and I wanted to address them.
Fair enough, I hope you understand I meant no disrespect to you in what I said. Perhaps I say this too much, but I have the utmost respect for this forum and the regular contributors. Certainly emotionally I'm feeling bleak about the future of my internet endeavors. I'm not giving up.
Not to completely digress, but if Google let's everyone share what's working, then they are doing something that they have done everything to avoid. In other words, if people figure out what works, then that's what causes the spam correct?
But still can't we cry in our beer in one thread? That's all I was suggesting.
|I don't see how anyone can run a business over time by trying to "guess" what's supposed to be done. |
I dont know how anyone can run a business and depending on Google alone, i made 5 years ago my aim to get rid of Google eventually. I looked how much do i earn without organic search, and based my whole business operation around that figure, everythign that was above that figure was invested in getting even more independet from Google. (Offline advertising, building of community, getting real life events etc..) I am still away from being totally Google free but i am half way down the road, and G sponsored (thanks to free traffic) my independence, hows that? The question is what are you guys all doing with the traffic you getting? Is your site interesting enough for the visitor to come back without using Google, refer it, make it sticky?
in any case good luck with your business... :)
I think you have the smartest strategy definitely. Ultimately organic search traffic is likely viewed as "those bottom feeders". It's kind of like that feeling in a kitchen in a four star hotel. It's not likely when you're the dishwasher that people care about your issues or complaints or overall well being. Make sense? Think about it.
This issue wouldn't be such an issue if 75% or more of website traffic depended on one entity. Fact is it's a slippery slope. It's like me, the webmaster being like the independent film maker. People are going to know about my movie how? Competing with Universal films is realistic? That's what I'm seeing in search right now. CNET, Engadget, the official sites, etc. That is what scares me now. If the everyday webmaster doesn't have those resources like CNET, then how can we stay fresh daily? Have huge number of unique pages? That's this issue for me here today right now. Tell me I'm wrong I'm listening. I'm crying in my beer sure.
When Google is 75% of the internet or more, then how could one get rid of Google as their primary source of traffic? It's that independent movie that is 1 out of 1000 that catches fire and might get some headlines? Like that small site out there that happens to get some +1's or mention on Facebook? Everyone else? Exactly. Enjoy washing those dishes.
i would like to add, that the harder i try to get rid of Google the more it rewards me with even more free traffic,so even though my free traffic from Google is now percentage wise considerably lower than five years ago the total number has gone up, in a way the more i try to get rid of Google the more it rewards me, go figure... ( i know i could just no index everythign but why ignore the free traffic but rather do something with it)...
I've been trying to do some more analysis on different possibilities. This morning, I decided to try to find a browser extension or tool that would show "social media shares" for each SERPs result. I couldn't find one that would shows those metrics right in the serps, though I might have missed it, but I did find a Firefox addon that shows the metrics for a page in the status bar. Good enough. So...I opened up a new tab for each of the top 20 results in a Google search for a keyword phrase that my site was pandalized for. The addon shows the number of tweets, facebook shares, and google +1 shares. (The addon is in German, so I'm not completely sure if the facebook number is referring to likes or shares, but for this test, I don't care...either is good enough just for comparison purposes).
So, how do the top 20 compare when it comes to social media shares? See for yourself. (Note that my pandalized site is at #14).
Serps Ranking > Twitter Shares, Facebook Shares, +1 Shares
1. > 12, 70, 0
2. > 32, 372, 0
3. > 0, 43, 0
4. > 1, 6, 0
5. > 1, 3, 0
6. > 2, 2, 0
7. > 0, 1, 0
8. > 0, 0, 0
9. > 0, 65, 0
10. > 1, 19, 0
11. > 1, 13, 1
12. > 1, 15, 0
13. > 4, 18, 0
14. > 45, 127, 6
15. > 0, 0, 0
16. > 0, 1, 0
17. > 1, 0, 0
18. > 103, 47, 0
19. > 0, 0, 0
20. > 95, 43, 0
As you can see, my site at #14 has considerably more social media shares than any of the sites above it, with the except ion of the #2 result, which has more facebook shares. And yes, my site's shares are organic.
It would be good to see if others could run the same type of test on their favorite pandalized keyword phrase, to see if any patterns emerge.
And yes, I know Panda is more complex than just one thing, but I can only concentrate on one thing at a time or my mind will melt.
Nice tool. Just added it.
That's fantastic and very productive. Thanks for the post and I'll do the same. You have to love Firefox.
|People do share that kind of thing here... a lot. But part of my answer is "no - I don't want to read a forum that's ONLY full of complaints and giving up." |
This is now the fourth time that my business has been destroyed by Google.
Each time, helped by forums such as this, a lot of hard work and a fair bit of experimentation, I finally found out what I had to do, and did it.
Each time, my earnings eclipsed the time before. This setback will be no different.
Tedster is absolutely right. Pouring out our troubles to each other is the least effective use of time imaginable.
It's slightly off topic, but seriously? The Google Panda update is just like the rest? No different that those other updates and people have been wiped out like this before and discussing what's happened isn't justified in this one instance? Really? Perhaps you're doing too much work and not noticing what a lot of people are saying out there about Google Panda. I think anyone saying that type of thing really doesn't have their ear on what's happening. Nobody should talk about the impacts or what they are hearing out there? Just solutions and no observation discussion? Human nature need not apply? When something tramatic happens guess what? People need to talk about it. To shoulder shrug about Panda is a bit puzzling at least to my mind.
|To shoulder shrug about Panda is a bit puzzling at least to my mind |
I don't think anyones advocating 'shoulder shrugging'. But, talking about how Panda 'makes us feel' does nothing to educate anyone. The members of this forum have a wide skill and data set, from SMEs and one-man-bands in uncompetitive verticles to agency guys like me dealing with brands to internal SEO guys who are crawling intently over one large sites data.
As an agency guy, I can't get the perspective of a one-man band and learn the lessons he or she is learning without places like this. Similary, they can't make the observations I can about branded traffic searches. We all contribute our anecdotal evidence, we compare and discuss, we all learn something from the experience. That is how we figure out exactly what Panda 'is' and that is how we learn to optimise for it.
Ultimately, this is what SEO is, was, and always will be. There is no one element of SEO that can't be done better by a combination of PR people, Techies and copywriters. The reason people like me have the jobs we do is because someone needs to constantly keep on top of the daily developments. Think about that for a second - without Goog constantly trying to screw us over, we'd actually become completely redundant. You bit my head off for noting this in the other thread, but I tell multinational coroprations this all the time - Google is not. A. Steady. Source. Of. Traffic. Get as many cheap sales out of it as you can, sure. But don't rely on it.
|i would like to add, that the harder i try to get rid of Google the more it rewards me with even more free traffic,so even though my free traffic from Google is now percentage wise considerably lower than five years ago the total number has gone up, in a way the more i try to get rid of Google the more it rewards me, go figure... ( i know i could just no index everythign but why ignore the free traffic but rather do something with it)... |
See, anecdotes like this are useful. There's a reason this has happened. You can see from this that Google is actively trying to penalise what it see's as 'overoptimisation'. Where that line is - that's what we should be discussing
(There have been lots of dramatic shifts and changes with search engines, specially for those of us who have been around a while. And yea, some that I would call as big or bigger than Panda. Panda has affected a lot of people, but not most, not by a long shot. And also, Panda has been around going on five months now. There's a BOATLOAD of observation discussions in the forum already, as well as other places)
Panda is different from the perspective of how it was integrated into their algorithm.
Historically Google updates their algorithm and changes can be tested against that almost immediately.
Panda has essentially taken that testing out of the equation by applying the algorithm change, pulling out the sites that get picked up by the algorithm. You can't test your way out of it until they decide to re-analyze your site. Which appears to be few and far between and randomized... Hence we have a ton of webmasters running around upset that we can't figure out what is wrong with our sites.
So yes, there have been folks hit far worse by past updates, but this new technique they are using is a first... and is very effective for what they are trying to accomplish. It is just very frustrating for those false positive hits that get sucked into it and stuck for potentially eternity.
|Another. My books are published and sold through various ways. So, it makes sense, that since I get royalties from my books, that I'd link to amazon, where they are sold. But wait. Am I being penalized because I have two links that look like affiliate links to my OWN books? |
You probably are not, at least not directly. You are entitled to make a living.
However, until many sites come back and we see a trend all advice is based on what ifs and maybes. Some of them may not make any sense but it wouldn't be the first time that search engines haven't made sense. It all depends what margin of error they were willing to tolerate and how much that margin of error hurts them.
The other hopeful option is that Google has gotten it wrong, your site isn't worthy of 50-80+% traffic drop and Google will refine it...one day. Maybe you already fixed your site and Google is purposefully delaying any comeback for almost all, but that touches a nerve, especially since Google is denying it. It's also boring, fatalist--you depend on what Google does--and we have no proof, so we're back to #1.
It could be that your page is perfect for what you ranked but Google is measuring the wrong signals, at least for your site, so you are deemed a low quality site. Talk to the robot as they say, Google may or may not adjust them. So I summarized Panda without saying anything conclusive. Such is the state, IMO.
Maybe in 6-12-24-36-48 months Google will give us some other helpful hint.
Personally I'd lower any expectations, I think with Panda, Google has knowingly crossed the Rubicon.
[edited by: walkman at 7:23 pm (utc) on Jul 8, 2011]
I totally share the respect MrSavage has for this forum, and also totally understand the need to vent. As I've said here before, many of us work in a vacuum, not knowing if it's only our sites being hurt, or is it a wider experience. That information alone is invaluable. I am not in any way a defeatist by nature and continue to persevere even though my own sites have been crushed by the Pancer disease. I also believe in my heart-of-hearts that Google set out purposefully to smash many of the smaller sites that existed in markets where larger more established brands dominate. They have wildly succeeded and I have no doubt whatsoever they are extremely pleased with the carnage. They did all this under the cover of "content farms", and yes those sort of sties dominating in the SERPs may have been a legitimate concern, but in fact their well-planned saturation bombing campaign was far wider. To me, Google's approach to problem solving is no different than the military destroying an entire village because there was an enemy sympathizer in a hut. The only good thing to come out of this for me is the philosophy that I now wholeheartedly embrace: Do NOTHING for Google's benefit, and along with that, Do NOTHING to support them in any way.
This is business.
You have a successful retail store, a supermarket opens nearby and you're challenged.
You have a property (real estate) agency and the market collapses; you're challenged.
You have a music CD store then an offshore Internet company sells your products much more cheaply; you're challenged.
Panda is just another challenge. Rise above it. If you cannot or won't them seriously consider whether or not you should be an employee instead.
If this sounds hard hearted then I'm making no apologies. My livelihood got wiped out too but that's life. It's happened before and will probably happen again. Some of us (those who get to bed in the early hours after a long day of hard work and careful analysis, day after day) will still be here a decade or two from now, the quitters won't be.
I agree with your sentiment superclown2 but not your analogy. If you are in the grocery biz and another market opens down the street, that is healthy competition. Ditto for music. But Google should not be the competitor for any of us ~ Bing/Yahoo is their competitor. Their job is to bring back the most reliable results to their own users, NOT wipe out small websites because, it THEIR world view, the big brands are the most trustworthy. The WWW was well established by the time they came along, and for awhile, they were a valuable player ~ now, to many of us, they are the enemy, because having used OUR content to build their empire, they now turn to cut us off at the knees. If that sounds hard hearted, I'm making no apologies.
There's still a lot more small websites in the index and ranking than large ones. You're entitled to your theory, but I'm not seeing it.
Me neither. I have seen only a handful of instances where sites were hit by Panda unfairly. And there are a lot alternative theories that can adequately explain your observations that I find more attractive.
|Me neither....there are a lot alternative theories |
And of course most of us are in different niches so it stands to reason that the results we view will differ. But even a cursory view of the hundreds (or thousands) of postings at this venue since Pancer was unleashed on the unsuspecting WWW will substantiate that for many of the webmasters that participate here, the movement of large brands to higher positions has occurred.
Re alternative theories, I totally agree, and that's the thing about Panda ~ there is NO SINGLE component of the algo that we can point to and say, "see ~ THAT's the problem". It appears to me to be one of the most complex algorithms ever put into operation since the dawn of the internet (in fact, it may be THE most complex).
That being the case, I've come to the conclusion that there is no "figuring it out" because it's been brilliantly conceived to be inscutable.
I've tried to follow many of the threads here since the first Panda release, and as far as I can see, not a single person has indicated any response that is consistently successful in regards to regaining previous positions. And so, I do nothing for Google's benefit, because there is nothing to be done. Panda has won ~ game over. So in response, I'm finally following the advice of those many people who warned YEARS ago that the only path that made any sense in the long term was to utilize strategies that did not depend on Google. My Google traffic was decent back then, but even so, I should have listened more carefully ~ given the death toll, they were obviously right.
|But even a cursory view of the hundreds (or thousands) of postings at this venue since Pancer was unleashed on the unsuspecting WWW will substantiate that for many of the webmasters that participate here, the movement of large brands to higher positions has occurred. |
But that sample is slightly skewed; I don't have access to the numbers, but I bet WebmasterWorld got a ton of new users (plus more activity from old users) once Panda hit. So of course from THIS vantage point, it probably looks like it wiped out half the web.
Agree netmeg ~ but that's true of any subject or public venue, be it letters to the editor or forums or people standing it line to stand on a soapbox.
I'd describe the cataclysmic aftermath of Panda as being a "reshuffling" rather than "wipe out", and for many, the reshuffling put big brands at the top, so my point if valid, though admittedly not universal (nothing is on web '11).
In Web 1995, it was easy to say to someone "you need better words in your keywords meta tag" (such a simpler time!). Then when people stuffed that with irrelevant nonsense, the emphasis shifted more to titles and meta descriptions; then titles, descriptions, first paragraph of text, and being in DMOZ; then with Google's arrival, titles, descriptions, first paragraph of text and number of quality links pointing to your site; then all of that and alt tags and image names and folder names and domain names and down to who else was on your server. With every upgrade, the complexity increased, and with Panda, we are into a level of complexity that (IMO) we will not grasp. That's how it's been designed, and to be honest, if anyone DOES figure it out, I couldn't blame them if they kept it quiet, because as soon as they say anything, the Google engineers will turn the knobs and that won't matter either.
You are not seeing that brands moved up Panda? If they didn't move up Google surely failed in their objective, based on the questions they asked raters for Panda.
Considering how every 'iteration' or whatever they call, traps more and more sites and barely anyone (or anyone?) comes out, shows that Google is still trying to catch more "low quality" sites. Or what they think are low quality sites. Maybe after they are done they will try to filter out innocent sites. They either can't do them at the same time, or they chose not to. Not even the biggest Google fans* can say that Google got it right, the first time.
One thing I try too look for now: how many top spot organic sites also have adword ads at the same time. Especially for big money words. Just out of curiosity of course.
*word fan is used in a positive way.
I think that, by definition, a brand should rank high for keywords related to that brand. Why should it be any other way?
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