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New Panda Update - September 27

 9:53 pm on Sep 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google rolled out its most recent iteration of the Panda algorithm on Wednesday 9/28/11 (or Tuesday according to who you ask). Saw the first recovery of one of my punished sites since the first iteration back in February. Anyone else see recoveries?


When asked if an iteration of Panda was implemented this week, a Google spokesperson told us, “yes.” She also provided the following statement:

“We’re continuing to iterate on our Panda algorithm as part of our commitment to returning high-quality sites to Google users. This most recent update is one of the roughly 500 changes we make to our ranking algorithms each year.”

If you’ve followed the Google Panda update saga throughout the year, you may recall Dani Horowitz’s story. She runs an IT discussion community called Daniweb, and it was hit hard by the Panda update, but she made a lot of changes, and gradually started to build back some Google cred



 4:41 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Whitey The point you're missing is that Google Panda already said my site was fine as is. And now it has suddenly completely changed it's mind.

It seems once that's happen it's pretty clearly useless to start trying to figure out what else can/should be fix.

I do appreciate your suggestions, however, though they aren't really applicable to my type of site. :)


 4:45 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

>>And I'm pretty sure that I recall Shatner saying that he runs a USG site? Is that right?

Incorrect. I am not a USG site, forum, or message board. I have absolutely nothing in common with DaniWeb other than that we are being treated exactly the same by Panda.


 4:50 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tedster for the Panda iterations list! Sorry I didn't think to check the hot topics for that, I should have.

So here is every Panda run in relation to what impact each had on my site...

PANDA RUN Feb 24, 2011 - My site is pandalized, I make changes.

PANDA RUN April 11, 2011 - My site is pandalized even heavier. I make no further changes.

PANDA RUN May 10, 2011 - Panda runs, decides that even though my site has been vastly improved, my site should stay pandalized and nothing changes. I make no further improvements of substance from this point forward and the site stays the same (or gets slightly worse since I increased the number of ads here).

PANDA RUN June 16, 2011 - Even though my site has already been the same through 2 different PANDA runs (except now it has more ads), Panda decides that I should no longer Pandalized, removes the Panda penalty and I start to recover.

PANDA RUN July 23, 2011 - Panda runs, still likes my site, I stay recovered. I make not changes to my site except an upgrade to the server which makes it faster.

PANDA RUN August 12, 2011- Still my site stays recovered through this Panda run, confirming that yep, Panda got it right and everything is cool... or so it seems.

PANDA RUN September 27, 2011 - For some reason Panda decides that the previous 3 Panda runs were completely wrong and reapplies exactly the same penalty it applied to me back on Feb 24... even though my site has been vastly improved since then and even though other Panda runs thought my site, the exact same site it has just penalized, was great.

Looked at like this... WTF?


 5:01 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Could you have been more aggressive and sustained in what you did? ( I'm still playing with the notion that you didn't buck the threshold hard enough ).

Can you elaborate? Not quite sure what you mean by that. If you mean was there more I could have done, then no. I'm literally 100% out of things I could do at this point, that would make any sense at all and would be in any way applicable to my kind of site.

Seems like those who relaunched on sub domains may have been given a temporary clean slate, making me suspect that Panda'd old domains are flagged in the algo ( who knows ).

I did not do this (again it wouldn't have really been applicable to my situation) so this isn't the case with me.


 5:05 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Walkman said:
Google commented that they did some sort of a pullback, but now many are going back.

Walkman where did you hear this? That scares me a lot. If true it means then that my recovery was basically just a temporary PR move and that my current state of affairs is now permanent.


 7:27 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

re Daniweb it probably shouldn't have been pandalized in the first place. Dani did a few things probably, but Google also tweaked the algo to fine tune and reverse some false positives.

Shatner , that's correct , I was questioning how far you had gone. Have you had a 3rd party give you feedback on your site - maybe someone out of Panda, or not effected by it? It may help challenge your perspective a bit and give you a bit of light to aim for.

Nobody can be 100% sure of things with Google - it's way too complex, and this is challenging as the sites that came out , went back in. The algo is not perfect either as was demonstrated by Dani's first fall.

As Eric Schmidt half joked recently about Google's attitude to their commerical environment and G's dominant algo position over webmasters " it's our business secret".

You just have to persist and look for clues, albeit tough. And if there are any successful turnarounds out there, it's pretty skinny and folks aren't sharing enough. But we have some objective responses coming through and i think that can only help.


 8:44 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Our site has had a large recovery with this latest Panda update.

I have been lurking here for quite a long time, and now that we've apparently just had our site wide Panda penalty removed I felt I owe it to everyone here to post.

I should stress - we only have ~80 hours of data so far, so please assign the significance accordingly.

Some facts to begin with:
- pre Panda visitors: ~400K per month
- site type: media, news and information in a niche area
- domain name: +10 years old, we registered it back then
- revenue: advertising - primarily from our own clients with some Adsense
- content: some of it dates back 12+ years (we purchased the site and put it on a new domain we registered - this was pre 2000), the rest of it generated over the last 10 years
- back links: totally organic, generated over 10+ years - many from very highly trusted sites including Wikipedia

We were hit massively by the first Panda update and had to let our 2 employees go (just two of us founders left).

We were then downgraded on every subsequent Panda update.

Changes we made to the site (effective date was in July - we messed up our earlier attempts):
- Removed 300K+ low quality pages: these were all old discussion posts made with very old software that caused every post to have its own URL. Actually we didn't remove all of them, we kept the tiny percentage that were of high quality. We 301 redirected the removed URLs to the most relevant posts where possible.
- Stopped posting press releases: for the last two months all news items have been totally original, prior to that the majority were 'copy & paste' jobs from press releases. We post approximately 10 new original articles every week.
- Escalated brand marketing via Social Media: we didn't ask or beg, we just pumped out high quality content and people shared on Facebook and re-tweeted of their own accord.
- We did not remove any advertisements. We use Google DFP and Adsense. Actually we had a slight increase in advertising by adding some text link units - our Adsense Reps are relentless in asking us to put more advertising units on.

As of the latest Panda update we have recovered our SERPS for all our major search terms.

This represents a return to 80% of the Google organic traffic we had prior to Panda 1.0. The reason for a less than 100% recovery is due to us removing such a large number of pages - we have lost that part of our long tail.

I'm posting this information to help other webmasters who are struggling like us to cope with all the changes.

We are continuing to make improvements we already had planned - we are not assuming this Panda penalty removal will last, we want to be ahead Google algorithm updates - Panda or otherwise.

If you have any questions please post them here and I will try to respond.


 9:16 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

What i'm seeing on google.com is that they mix English results with other languages. Once they sort that out, things might improve a bit, hopefully...


 10:01 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)


Congratulations, I was starting to lose all hope so I'm pleased to hear a success story. Just wish it was me...may I ask a couple of questions?

Was 300 000 articles removed a large percentage of the overall site? Is every article remaining now what you would consider high quality or do you think a site can still have a small proportion of 'thin' poorer quality articles?

Also did you make the changes very recently or soon after panda first hit? I ask because I think our site is now very high quality but it seems to take google a long time to completely remove pages and recognise changes, so I'm interested in the time-lag from changes being made to improvements in rankings.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences


 10:16 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wouldnt change a thing, im seeing some of the biggest most popular forums on the net fall from grace. Top 1,000 alexa sites over 10 years old. Its got nothing to do with good/bad popular/unpopular usermetrics/number of ads. Nadda. The only similarity i can see is anyone is a target. Personally i still stick by my conspiracy theroy. Google wants search traffic for itself and is taking it from everyone. Then using Panda as a smokescreen. Because im not seeing any winners, just losers.


 10:22 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Seriously, 10,000's losing tons of uniques... where's the sites with alex stats going through the roof or webmasters saying they are doing crazy well? Millions have to be going somewhere. All we see/hear is doom and gloom.


 10:37 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)


Don't congratulate us just yet - we are all too aware of the DaniWeb rollercoster ride :)

The 300K pages removed represented ~40% of our pages, and around 15% of our incoming Google traffic. We believe we still have to remove another ~10% of pages in order to exceed Google's quality guidelines - as you can imagine, that last 10% is the most difficult.

Our efforts began soon after Panda 1.0 - but we messed them up. We know this because WMT was still reporting a large number of URLs that shouldn't have been there - we made some mistakes in the removal process initially that resulted in our CMS still serving up the old URLs we were trying to remove and redirect.

This problem was compounded by the fact that the Google bot was only indexing a small percentage of our pages every day - basically it appears their bot was smart enough to only occasionally download the long tail pages that didn't get much traffic on a per page basis - but which added up to a reasonable sum in our long tail.

Let me be clear - we have not tried to do any misleading 301 redirects - we simply made all the "+1" and "me too" posts we removed redirect to their parent posts (we have a lot of pages - we've been online since before Google).

The other thing to note is that the pages we deemed to be of poor quality according to Google's guidelines were primarily user generated - in fact we had a plan to deal with them before Panda, but we put the plan off because Google was rewarding these pages with long tail organic search traffic.

In other words - we knew these pages were of low quality before Panda hit.

In terms of timing - the effective date for the changes was in early July.


 11:05 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

please tell me if you have ads above the fold and do they push the content down.
I would also like to know how much bounce rates, pages per visit and time on site improved after your changes.



 11:46 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am also interested in the amount of ads per page and size of ad. Particularly # above the fold and inside/outside of the main "content" area. Before Panda 1.0 compared to now.

Just to confirm, you had a drastic drop (~60%) in traffic on February 24th?

Also, what kind of recovery did you have? Was it gradual from July on, or was it pretty much instant in the last couple of days?


 8:39 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

We've completely wiped a domain that's been hit and written some content that is unique, valuable and innovative (based on some research we've done over recent months. This was intended to be premium content for a membership site we run, however I want to know quite simply whether removing a Pandalyzed site and replacing the content will make any difference whatsoever. The new site has a completely new design, new navigational structure, new content. The only thing that survives is the domain itself. We've even been careful not to replicate any URL's other than the homepage, so we can't inadvertantly integrate anything backlink related.

I've posted before that my gut feeling is that a Panda iteration means the scoring criteria itself is changing, not the score our site receives against that scale. How those criteria could possibly be validated on the scale of the Internet is beyond me, but perhaps that is not something Google cares about. If the results as a whole get better for the majority of searches that's good enough, even if some sites are as good as removed from the SERPS until such time that the criteria are regenerated and the site no longer gets caught in the net.

[edited by: tedster at 1:21 pm (utc) on Oct 1, 2011]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]


 2:14 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here's the searchmetrics breakdown on who got hit. Some pretty big names here. Motortrend? Cafemom? Hunh.



 2:30 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ok, if that list from searchmetrics doesn't make the Google team scratch their heads, and wonder where they went wrong, then I don't know what will.

Today.com? (The Today Show? Really?)
thenextweb? (I love that site)

Really, Google?

The panda needs to be put out to pasture.


 2:50 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

dazzindonna - they probably hit today.com and others to shut up people claiming that brands are never hit by Panda :-)


 2:54 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

P.S. Shouldn't this update be called Panda 3 rather Panda 2.5? The order of magnitude seems to be quite different from the mini pandas we've been seeing in the last few months.


 3:18 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

I noticed a massive drop for Plenty of Fish mid last month - [alexa.com...]


 3:19 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's one reason why I reversed out of the whole numbering scheme, Alyssa. Google isn't numbering them, and what the webmaster community has been doing won't (and doesn't) hold up very well. We'll go with just the dates, for now at least.


 3:23 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

This one looks like it's past Panda and into Kodiak bear territory.

Roaming Gnome

 3:37 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

My main site has continued to move upward in the SERP for my #1 KW. All other KWs still have not recovered since Feb. :(

Things I did:

1. Removed ads above the fold.
2. Removed no-follow
3. Re-did the site for more eye catching content for better bounce rate.
4. Posted every new article to social networks.
5. Removed the majority of link swaps.


 3:45 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Looking at that searchmetrics graph, it is interesting to see that some of these sites follow the same pattern.

They were hit first in Panda 1.0, got some glory back in July, and then hit again in 2.5.

This is similar to what happened to some folks here like Shatner, ACFinLA, edgeman, and some others.

There is something that tie them together... some commonality.


 3:57 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's interesting too that one of Google's guidelines in surviving Panda was to ask yourself if your content is good enough to be published in a magazine. Well, motortrends IS a magazine and has been since 1949. At this point, I really think Google needs to re-evaluate itself.


 4:13 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Nextweb, Motorotrend and Cafemom are the odd man out any way you slice it, unless they lost a relatively small % and and that hit certain sections. It could also be that they gained a lot after Panda and now are losing some (Cafemom for example.) Today doesn't have good numbers according to Alexa.

Either way, open your wallets.

For me, the bounce rate on traffic from Google is 15% lower than before this, have not changed a damn thing in months. I just need google to triple its traffic to me, keep it for 6 months and then they can go into pay-per-play. :) Buy yourself some acreage somewhere, a cabin and ride this out, it's a big house of cards and will take a while.


 4:18 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

No changes here, but it looks like a client's competitor gained big time. I'm going to be busy.


 4:21 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Panda does really have some Bipolar mental health issues.

I don't think Panda knows itself what it's trying to do. They are making up the recipe as they go along and depends on what their mood is, which changes frequently. The message they are sending webmasters is confusing and contradicts itself as seen by their own results.

Due to their own unresolved issues, I think the healthiest thing webmasters can do is forget about the confusing messages coming down and grow their websites according to what they think is best, and what makes them proud, not what Google's "I love you, I hate you" immaturity dictates.

Do what you think is right, is best for you and your users. You can't predict how an unhealthy individual is going to react to that, because they probably don't know themselves.


 4:28 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Oh $h!t! Somebody better call Matt Cutts right now:


Heads are gonna roll ;)


 4:43 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Plenty of Fish changed the name to pof.com [alexa.com...] , no real traffic loss.

I've posted before that my gut feeling is that a Panda iteration means the scoring criteria itself is changing, not the score our site receives against that scale. How those criteria could possibly be validated on the scale of the Internet is beyond me, but perhaps that is not something Google cares about. If the results as a whole get better for the majority of searches that's good enough, even if some sites are as good as removed from the SERPS until such time that the criteria are regenerated and the site no longer gets caught in the net.

Totally agree and have it said before, they have increased the acceptable margin of error. They make sure that no big names are caught (or fixed fast when that happens) and give a huge middle finger to the rest. They disclaim any responsibility to be careful, even though they are in monopoly territory. We need 4-5 engines spread equally, that's the bottom line, no advice is going to help you beat Panda.

Don't buy their "SERPs are so much better now," for most searches the first organic results in in reality #4 or even #5 after ads.


 5:02 pm on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ok, if that list from searchmetrics doesn't make the Google team scratch their heads, and wonder where they went wrong, then I don't know what will.

Based on that list, I know who I'm NOT doing a press release with.

This 436 message thread spans 15 pages: < < 436 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 15 > >
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