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Google Panda - all about local pushing SERPs below fold?

 6:54 pm on Jul 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

I can't believe there hasn't been a mere mention that Panda is more of a format change than any update.

The local results displayed are pushing the organic 2-4 results below the fold. Not only for the organic positions but for the 4, 5 adwords positions previously displayed on the right, which now show the small map locations.

The result is less clicks for both! So unless you are number 1 organic result for a keyword phrase or 1-2 or 3 for adwords your click thru rates has decreased tremendously obviously causing far less traffic.

The only exception maybe for longer tail keyword phrases which G will not display local results or can't put 2 and together for the longer search phrases.

The locals are enjoying a large run up in calls, website traffic or walk-ins. Just call anyone of them in any industry and ask.

The phone book is going away and Google will capture all that business, giving them free results for a while, then charge them for a local listing. Think of the billions of dollars that will equate to, even for a nominal yearly inclusion charge.

And why shouldn't they,? They are a for profit, publicly traded company.



 7:06 pm on Jul 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

There definitely has been this evolution in the way SERPs are displayed - but as far as I know, the Panda algorithm has nothing to do with that.


 7:21 pm on Jul 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Not in my niche but that will probably change with +1 feeds and new Google business ventures...ADDING to Panda.


 7:36 pm on Jul 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Local has been shadowed by the "New" Google Directory style listings for 8-12 months it seems. Ever since they started showing that 7-pack of local listings.

+1 on Google being nothing more than a phone book of local listings for certain terms... Agree. Now to find the best way to play along!

Also - If I recall, Google had a "Tags" program or something like that where they were charging $25/month for local places featured placement.

Link [google.com]


 9:18 pm on Jul 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

The promotion of business listings and map results happened in October. My sites weren't affected by Panda, but the format changes for local results sure hurt me. To the point that we are thinking of setting up local businesses (local address and phone number) in the 50 largest US metros to get back in the SERPs for local results.


 9:48 pm on Jul 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi deadsea & tedster, I agree the algo change is separate but I believe the format is all a part of it. Local results use to be lower now they are 1, if not 2nd organic result. In addition they display 7 vs 3. (7 pack). It was also inconsistent and now its almost every 2 phrase search. Plus it's pushing even the right side adwords down, which I would think G would lose money there?

deadsea do you have or found a way to create that many local listings?


 10:30 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's all just an underhanded way to force businesses to pay for adwords. While these added "services" such as places, youtube, news, etc.. are not part of the algo update, they are certainly intentional and have been part of the business plan for years. They've been doing it slowly so people get used to it.

They also disguise those top 3 adwords spots to the point that most people don't understand they are even ads. I've had to explain that these 3 are actually ads to many people in the last year. For all the 'webmaster guidelines' and other propaganda, they are sure leading the way in spammy underhanded site design.

As far as the algo and panda update, this is also in my opinion, absolutely designed with the sole purpose of forcing people to use adwords.

We see obvious signs in the title changing, and other strange ranking behavior. The goal is clearly to make it hard for people to choose which keywords they rank for unless they pay insane cpc prices directly to the big evil. It's as if they're saying:

"If you pay, you can choose your keywords, if you don't pay, we're going to rewrite your titles, choose strange text to display in the serps and rank you for unrelated phrases."


 11:13 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

IMO, very insightful comments, and right on target.
I especially like:

They've been doing it slowly so people get used to it.

they are sure leading the way in spammy underhanded site design

"If you pay, you can choose your keywords, if you don't pay, we're going to rewrite your titles, choose strange text to display in the serps and rank you for unrelated phrases."

Each of these perceptive observations are worthy of their own thread.


 12:13 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's not an insight, in my view. That's a conspiracy theory that doesn't hold any water. In fact, it's a conspiracy theory that's been around since Adwords first launched. The only thing "new" here is the idea that Panda is designed to increase Adwords buys. And that seems way out in left field to me.

What has been happening, and not so gradually at all, is the competition for the valuable organic positions has mushroomed. And the competition for a page one Adwords ad on those same queries has done the same.

You may feel backed into a corner where buying ads seems to be your only alternative - but that doesn't mean it's Google's intention.


 2:18 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's a conspiracy theory that doesn't hold any water

Please tedster, please please, really. What shazam is saying is very accurate. Please don't shoot him down like that. I have no difficulty whatsoever recognizing the overall theme of what he is saying. It may not be apparent in the results you are seeing but there is absolutely no question that:

1) - Organic is being pushed off the first page.
2) - They are doing it slowly over time so it is less perceptible.
3) - They are doing this in an attempt to push businesses to AdWords

As for the other points I don't know, I haven't looked for that kind of behaviour so I can't say for sure.

Calling that post a conspiracy theory is the very thing that I posted in last night saying that I get discouraged attempting to bring SERP behaviour into the spotlight for reasons like getting shot down like that. I've already given up trying to explain the intangible benefits from valid code that you consistently tell people to stop posting because you say it's not true. It's not an item on the list of 200 but the spin-offs of valid code produces by-product pluses that are on that list of 200, it is UNDENIABLE.

If you discourage people from expressing overview trends as they see them unfolding, such as this one, what point is there to come here anymore?



 2:58 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I know I came on strong, and I know I'm usually much more diplomatic when I disagree - but I'm not repentant in this case.

It's point #3 that I take the most issue with. First, it's only discussing local results. Next, I've been listening to that basic point of view for years (it started with Universal Results) and it gets exhausting. Add to that trying to couple the SERP layout changes with the Panda algorithm and I just can't buy any of it as a well considered opinion.

This is my personal opinion, yes - but I see no evidence that organic search results are taking ad revenue into account, nor have they ever. There are people who read here and respect my opinion. There's no way I want them to think that I can get behind this idea, even through "no comment."

If you want to get into Google's head, you need to work a lot harder that buying any idea that comes along. Analysis needs to be a discipline, not just a way to complain that it's harder to rank.


 3:18 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Shazam first mentioned some of these points in another thread the other day. When I read it I immediately had a smile on my face. I thought, wow, here's someone confirming something I have been following closely. I'm referring specifically to points 1 & 2. And when I look at what points 1 & 2 I next have to ask myself -- what's the motive for that? Without doubt it is leading to point 3.

I'm going to expand on points 1, 2, and 3 and add my observations to this thread, probably on Monday because it's now late Saturday and I'm going to be away tomorrow.

Also, I know you are a very well respected person here, I'm one who also extends that respect. So, you can well imagine how I felt coming out strongly against you. I hate sticking my hand in fire, ouch! But yet as I said, if new members get intimidated like that they may just quietly go away, and take valuable insight with them.

By the mere fact that he spotted 3 very specific trends that I have been observing means that I would say he's astute enough to be given the benefit of the doubt on the others. When I have time to check those theories out for myself if I disagree with them I'll be standing on the soapbox saying, IMO, they may not be right.


 3:49 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

There's no doubt that on Local Search, it's harder to get an organic ranking. Actually I think that change has occurred in a couple of very dramatic steps, not subtly. We' had several threads here, pre-Panda, goingon and on about the shifts as they happened.

But the reason I see for the change is that Google needs to serve to local searches much better than they have. And so far, their newer local search approaches are still not so good - in some geographies it's really been a spammer's playground.

But look at the title of this thread - Panda is "all about" local pushing SERPs below the fold? Maybe if a site had a postal code database and they were pushing out auto-generated pages for each location, then maybe they felt a Panda hit. But essentially, this change is not a Panda thing at all.

Here's my promise. If I ever see evidence that Google organic is trying to push people to Adwords, I'll say it, and I'll advise everyone to look hard at their business balance sheets to see how much they can free up for PPC. That's what I already do whenever a business asks for advice about a major re-development, anyway.

[edited by: tedster at 4:13 am (utc) on Jul 10, 2011]


 4:06 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

The only thing "new" here is the idea that Panda is designed to increase Adwords buys. And that seems way out in left field to me.

If that's not the reason, then Google has no reason to have AdWords... there's proof in the pudding. I don't like "conspiracy theories" any more than the next guy, but I'm not blind that AdWords is an adjunct of Google's business AND that recent changes in the way SERPS are offered seems to indicate the way "out" is dumping dollars into AdWords... That's not a "theory".

Google's back is against the wall as far as profitability growth is concerned. These Panda changes, and perhaps a few other changes we haven't sussed yet are all in line with generating dollar growth for Google. As this new methodology is worked out a large number of websites have been slapped---and there's some truth that those were less than sterling examples of the webmaster art.

But there is NO DOUBT that everything Google does these days is for Google's bottom-line. One should avoid blinders and should also find ways to continue... else become part of the "vanity" internet.


 4:20 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

You mean you have no doubt - but there is certainly doubt in my mind. Big doubt, because this would be a radical shift from the way Google has always operated.

Are the Panda SERPs now showing more Adwords? Since the big money keywords are already jammed with Adwords ads, where would the targeted "new ads" be appearing? The center of this idea still does not hold for me.

Google will sacrifice short term financial gain to have a solid business long term. Their board has long been on notice about that, as has the financial world. They do not operate the way most other businesses do. In fact, Panda absolutely hurt Adsense income - I have no doubt at all about that.


 7:12 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

tedster... there is no "radical shift"... g has (then again, this is MY view) gone mainstream towards the bucks as an operation. Panda is only five months old. A wake up call to the leeches, first adopters, those who bought into the dream of a green machine... and that is in money, not climate change. Panda is an ABSOLUTE CHANGE in the way things are done. No short term loss involved as this is a defined path.

I'm on the outside in this issue. I do not use or rely on Google. I dropped any expectation year two of g (three of my sites date back to 1996). As stated elsewhere at WW I've always avoided "eggs in one basket", "diversification is the charm" and "bull through with newspaper, radio and tv spots".

Google has some pretty smart fellers on payroll... might even fool a few smart fellers here, too. That "sacrifice" sounds a lot like Bell, Railroads, Ford/GM, etc. That "solid business" requires EVERYBODY PAYS to play... but to get the pump primed you give it away first. Then nudge in some charges, then double down and MAKE 'EM PAY. I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record (and I will stop, soon, perhaps this will be my last post on this) THIS HAS ALL HAPPENED BEFORE.

The LOCAL guys and gals have few choices. This is where it starts.


 10:53 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is where it starts

Absolutely ... a business adoption strategy to fully engage the local directory market online. It was worth multiple billions of $$'s in print form 10-15 years ago across the like of YELP and local newspapers. Many of the participant business were slow to change, but the pressure is now mounting.

In it's fully mature form, e-commerce and local listings have little place in the organic search, because Google will and can provide all the tools with various strategies to attract density through paid search, especially in key verticals.

Organic was the give, to create a market upon which it can take.

Dealing directly with every business on the planet is it's aim. It may take time, but that's where it's aimed. Personally, i don't like enslavement, but in the absence of competition from significant other marketing channels , that's where a lot of folks are headed.


 11:12 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

i dont think google are deliberately pushing Adwords at the expense of everything in the SERPs -- because some of the stuff that they have done recently actually seems to hurt Adwords. Remember that map that scrolled over the ads?

What i think they are doing is pushing their own properties ahead of both Adwords and the SERPs. Keeping people on their site will make them more money in the long run, rather than just one click and out through Adwords.

What I dont get is this: if you appear in the local listings than you get a leg up over better sites.
Some of the sites in the local listings do not even have their own website -- the only link they have is straight to google's place page.
So how can google rate them better than the sites in the SERPs? they have no data. backlinks, bookmarks, visits, return visits... all those things that google uses to rate how good a result is, is null and void if the business does not have a website. and yet they still get placed above the good businesses in the SERPs.

of course, the average user doesnt have a clue about stuff like that. but people who follow this kind of thing can see that there are now plenty of ways of getting onto the 1st page without having to build up a quality site.

normal users still assume that the site at the top of the SERPs must be the "best" one, but that is no longer the case. That is the big change with Panda, i reckon. With a bigger concentration on "brands", and top local listings for businesses that dont even have websites, google has decided that famous names and popularity is more important than quality. that is probably what the user wants though.


 11:21 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

So for the folks choosing to, or paid to, turn a blind eye, one obvious question comes to mind; Why is google investing so much money in these projects? My natural inclination to 'follow the money' on such matters leads me to think it must be to increase revenues, of which ads on google account for the vast majority. Since that isn't the case(in your opinion), please explain to slow conspiracy theorists like myself why a public company would be so interested in such projects.

Why did google try to acquire Yelp? Why did google acquire ITA travel software company? Why is google so interested in location based search? Why the need to fill up location based search pages with 90% google ads or google owned results?

It couldn't possibly be that they've been data-mining for years and know this is where a huge amount of high conversion keywords lie, and thus vast amounts of potential ad revenue. What better excuse to have the whole first page covered in ads and google properties. g can pat themselves on the back for 'improving' the internet as they cash in and destroy the small businesses that can't afford huge adwords budgets or operate on smaller margins.

As far as panda and the general serps. Why show four spun pages from the same domain at the top of the serps followed by three of the next domain? It couldn't possibly be to push legit organic results down off the first page now could it? Now why would google want to push organic (free) results off the first page?

I know, I am not behaving. I am suppose the play the three monkeys game when it comes to the "don't be evil" company. Sorry, but for many of us it's quite apparant that the emperor wears no clothes and he's got a big white elephant in the living room.


 11:24 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why show four spun pages from the same domain at the top of the serps followed by three of the next domain? It couldn't possibly be to push legit organic results down off the first page now could it? Now why would google want to push organic (free) results off the first page?

i dont think its that. if people search for "football book" and google knows that amazon is the most popular bookshop, it makes much more sense for them to show four football books from amazon at the top, rather than one football book from four different shops.


 11:27 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

people who follow this kind of thing can see that there are now plenty of ways of getting onto the 1st page without having to build up a quality site

The people Google is chasing include folks who are often unsophisticated. To capture them requires a variety of strategic techniques, which will damage Adwords in the short term occassionally, but reward Google in the long run.

Without doubt this is a high level strategy, and I don't buy the argument that product divisions within Google don't respond to commercial strategic guidelines.

But, as you say , Google is looking at the bigger picture. Google is looking at expanding's it's media real estate, so when you look at a page, imagine one day it will be full of paid options and contain all the information organic listings could offer in most e-commerce business verticals, in as many accessable ways as Google can compete in.

Google's business has an insatiable appetite and would gobble up half the planet if it could.

Why did google acquire ITA travel software company?

Possibly to position at the strongest possible market distribution points a tool that they could invest in so strongly that no other competitor would be able to equal them. This is a trillion dollar market, and flowing a little bit of it via Google might help their business, to put it politely. But the point is dominance , and organic listings will be weak in the face of this.


 1:21 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

i dont think its that. if people search for "football book" and google knows that amazon is the most popular bookshop, it makes much more sense for them to show four football books from amazon at the top, rather than one football book from four different shops.

If I wanted to go to Amazon.com, then I would go to Amazon.com.

A fine example it is. The normal top of page adwords disguised as and pushing down the organics with an extended "site-map" style listing, four results from the same domain, a "news" listing, and "shopping results" section, all pushing down the legitimate number 2-9 organic results. The #2 is actually then 10th spot down on my screen, I am counting the top adwords since the majority of users don't realize these are actually paid placements and think they are google's top suggestions for the query. The #2 in this case, being 10 spots down, was essentially forced to bid on adwords if they wanted traffic for this query even though they rightfully should be at #2 and getting a reasonable amount of traffic. Great example.

These 'improvements' such as 'news', 'shopping', 'youtube' etc... all have the desired result of pushing down the legit organic results. Showing four results from a single domain also quite effectively accomplishes this same goal.

The writing is on the wall, there are already many queries where getting a top five organic listing will not bring your company much quality traffic. This will surely continue.


 2:18 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Furthermore, even the mobile results are now showing ads on the bottom as well. Good example Whitey, they will gobble up the whole planet if we allow them too. But guess what? We let them get this much control and power.

It's also a great learning lesson. I will never run a business that put's so much weight in on corner. They are a publicly traded company and they are in it to win it. Nothing wrong with that and thanks G for the many years of free traffic. But now it's over for all.


 3:56 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google has been altering it's format for some time now and would be doing that even without Panda. Why?

[1] Google has a long term business strategy, just like every other big biz on the planet;

[2] That long term strategy is to maximize its profits, like any other biz, big or small.

Google has PO'd almost everyone (myself included) because we thought they were our "friend", with all the "don't be evil" nonsense and free traffic. Well, what we are now seeing is reality 101 ~ they are no different than Exxon or GE or MS or Monsanto.

Personally, as I've said in numerous threads, I do not believe any of us will ever truly "figure out" Panda. It has been designed to defeat that effort, and it has succeeded and will continue to succeed because it will continue to evolve. As soon as word spreads about some website design that is most effective, Panda will detect and will eliminate that advantage.

So as I read these threads, the most important advice I see is to forget Google and focus on any other traffic generation within our budgets and abilities. How to most effectively DO THAT is the discussion that will cushion the impact for those of us that have fallen off the Panda cliff.



 6:08 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I responded to another thread by my comment belongs in this one. In doing a search for Seattle locksmith I can't find a website above the fold, not even ONE. ads + places dominate, as if Google is the new yellow pages.

I want to find WEBSITES when I search a WEBSITE search engine.


 6:38 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's true - Google does not see themselves as just website search. They see themselves as the organizers of the world's information, whatever it takes to get that job done.

Organic search is what it takes in many areas. But when I think about finding local information, I'm not convinced that conventional website search is the best way to serve user needs. However, the mish-mash that Google currently offers is not very good. They are being badly gamed in local, and it requires a lot of non-scalable human interaction to improve things (that's not their strong suit, by far).


 9:57 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

A lot of us are here to learn, and express the occasional opinion. You have commented often enough, and IMO accurately, about the apparent pervasive negativity (however justified it might be) that can occupy these threads at times. That seems to be taking a lot of energy that might be better put to use in a positive, solution-oriented discussion.

Please help us out by "nudging" our thinking in a different, perhaps more constructive, and maybe better direction re these comments of yours:
but I see no evidence that organic search results are taking ad revenue into account

What, based on your knowledge and experience, would constitute evidence that this is occurring?

But when I think about finding local information, I'm not convinced that conventional website search is the best way to serve user needs.

What other options would you suggest to better serve user needs for relevant local* search results?
(* local = direct provider of product / service with a physical presence within or near the stated community of service provision or product acquisition. Local does not mean lead generators, matchmakers, or out of area providers or sellers). If you would elaborate a bit on that "conventional website search" phrase you dropped in there, that might help.

Throw a few pearls, please.


 10:58 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

In local and in verticals where Google has it's own sites then the classic "organic search results" are gradually evolving into Google sites results with a token amount of non-google organic results.

I don't think it is anything to do with Panda - but the observation is valid.

If Google really is maintaining the "organizing the worlds information" then I think this stance really is at odds. Inserting 10 local links to Google Places is not doing that - it has a commercial intent of sending the user to Google owned content. Just like Google+ and Youtube, Google Images and Google News insertions in the SERPS.

It is clearly an intent to become a center-point of information by using it's own SERPS to drive traffic to it's own content. That is happening every month by stealth - adding more and more links to own content or features and displacing classic organic results.

They will hit a limit where it just can't be done any more as it doesn't offer enough choice for the user. But that limit is directly proportional to how successful Facebook and others are at grabbing users from it's user base and how fast Google loses search users.

Google is now going for the land grab - and fast.


 11:03 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Panda is an extension of the strategy to create loyalty to Google.

Give users lists of sites that are "trusted" - more brands, more recognisable lists of sites that are familiar, more confidence in the results. Favour sites that fit with the profile of "good" sites - equals more satisfied customers.

More trust in the results, more trust in Google.


 1:53 am on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

a lot of non-scalable human interaction to improve things (that's not their strong suit, by far).

Thank goodness ..... but Google is always prepared to sleep with the enemy to achieve it's objectives. I'm seeing partnership's with regional YELP's all over the place and any other organisation that provides a short term partnership opportunity in local.

I also don't buy the argument of focusing away from Google. It is such an important part of the overall marketing mix, for many business'. Maybe this should read, find a business that doesn't rely on it, or work strongly on compliementary areas that can sustain - while still being aware that Google will encroach on most business' turf.

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