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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Oct 2011
Dave_Hybrid




msg:4369332
 10:26 pm on Sep 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

I just found this little nugget whilst search for something completely unrelated.

#2 Post from Google employee.

[google.com...]

That's pretty clear admission they are hitting sites they don't mean to imo.

[edited by: tedster at 10:42 pm (utc) on Oct 2, 2011]

 

ehgee




msg:4375318
 4:54 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

hello everybody,
just a regular lurker since panda hit on feb 27. haven't been writing as I had nothing really new to offer & wanted to avoid noise. But since not many have really spoken of any recoveries, I though of letting you know the status here...
Our 11 yr old info-commerce site was battered with Panda 1 (-35%) & then pandaped again with Panda 2 (-35% April 10)... thereafter, no recoveries or downgrades either with any of the iterations....stuck like a rock! Then, October 14th (Panda 3 in my books) has seen a major sitewide recovery so that panda 2 losses have been overcome but still below Panda 1. Holding still so far across the site, so I felt fit to post it here.

hispdcha




msg:4375320
 5:03 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hey everyone, I wanted to update you all on a thread I posted a while back that you can find here: [webmasterworld.com...]

Essentially, just as Panda dropped, I decided to add 30k pages to my site. These were IDX pages i.e. real estate listings for a real estate website that services a northern half of a state. As you can imagine, I was worried about adding 30k pages to a 3k page site, and these pages were basically duplicated thousands of times throughout other real estate websites such as Realtor.com Zillow and Trulia plus other real estate agents websites.

On the June 7th/18th Panda update, our site dropped and came back. It went down an initial 20% in traffic from Google and then it came back to 5% below the normal range into a full recovery over the next couple of weeks until the August 13th where it dropped again 50% of normal traffic. This remained and I didn't do anything to the site. I figured since it bounced back the last time it might do it again the next time. So I left it alone, didn't add a single new page, and just updated our blog with the once a month real estate statistics in our area. Nothing happened.

On September the 28th, we had a nice recovery to about 5% within our original traffic that we normally get. We are back to our normal 200 to 250 daily uniques and on October 13th, we had a nice bump to 280 uniques, October 14th 296, October 15th 299, and so far today it looks like we will hit the 280-290ish uniques. (This is only Google search traffic, we still get a nice bit of return visitor traffic and referrals.)

Anyways, the point of this is I was reading that you have an idea of re-directs being a problem. Well, to throw another wrench into the equation, we updated this site last October and it went live October 1st. We redirected hundreds of pages from the old site platform to the new one. So if re-directs are a problem, I would say we have a total of 600+ re-directed pages on our site. I don't know if this is a problem with our site and could be a reason we are bouncing around in the panda ocean, or why we seemed to recover in September and have received a 3-5% increase in the last iteration on October 13th.

I have no idea what this data means or how to use it or if it's helpful to this discussion. It may not be Panda at all, it could be our site getting thrown around due to the massive change we did on February. However, the dates seem to line up.

Added 30k pages to 3k site in late February.
20% traffic hit around the 7th of June came back to 15% recovery June 18th.
Hit again to 50% total loss of traffic August 13th.
Full recovery Septermber 28th.
3-5% uptick in traffic since October 13th.

Bounce rate before panda = 25 to 35 percent.
After June, bounce went to 50 to 60 percent and remained in that area through September 28th.
After September recovery = bounce rate 43-46 percent and an increase in leads back to 15ish a day.

That's all I have, hopefully it can help or give someone an idea. We did absolutely nothing special to fix our website as our user love it already. We get a lot of return traffic and compliments that our site is the best out there for our market so we will not be changing a thing.

koan




msg:4375332
 6:28 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Our 11 yr old info-commerce site was battered with Panda 1 (-35%) & then pandaped again with Panda 2 (-35% April 10)... thereafter, no recoveries or downgrades either with any of the iterations....stuck like a rock! Then, October 14th (Panda 3 in my books) has seen a major sitewide recovery so that panda 2 losses have been overcome but still below Panda 1. Holding still so far across the site, so I felt fit to post it here.


Roughly the same story with one of my site (informational, community), pandalized in February, then April, hopelessly flat lined ever since, first signs of recovery on September 26 and then, dramatic recovery on October 14. I'm trying hard not to get too excited because I know it can turn anytime. What have I done? More like what have I not done, so it would be really hard to say what worked, maybe nothing I did and a Panda tweak simply pushed my site in the acceptable threshold. I still have other sites penalized by Panda however.

Whitey




msg:4375343
 7:13 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

What have I done? More like what have I not done, so it would be really hard to say what worked, maybe nothing I did and a Panda tweak simply pushed my site in the acceptable threshold

Congrats Koan - good to see that you have some relief. So what did you do, and what did you not do that you felt that you should do. The analysis would provide helpful insight.

ehgee




msg:4375361
 7:48 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm trying hard not to get too excited because I know it can turn anytime.

...ditto, though the site-wide nature of the upgrade gives a feeling of stability or at least... "i know Google was wrong in the first place" and things can turn back again.
So what did you do, and what did you not do that you felt that you should do. The analysis would provide helpful insight.

Google's aversion to Directories has been reasonably well documented, so we hived off our entire classic country-city drilldown directory into a new domain with 301 re-directs.(this, even though the bounce rate / time spent on page of the directory section roughly mirrored the stats of the rest of the site). Retained the search directory box, so that user experience was not affected.
Used a whole lot of no-index to those pages that were having a combination of high bounce rate / low conversions & low value (including less time spent on page) in our opinion as I didn't see much downside in doing that.
Didn't make changes to our good content pages even though they were badly affected, because I simply believed Google was wrong on that one.

DNelly




msg:4375401
 9:40 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

hey everyone,

Like hispdcha, I'm a regular stalker here but rarely contribute, however since the Panda update on the 14th I decided I'd share, and ask a few questions.

I have a site in very competitive niche which I've had for around 3 years. I've written fresh new content myself almost every day for that period...all content has been completely 100% unique (unless on the rare occasion I quote a particular source). Up until the 14th, the panda updates have been great for us. Never lost any traffic, in fact gained a good chunk, and actually had record setting traffic (but not a major spike, say 10% higher than my norm) on the few weeks prior to getting bi**h slapped by google on the 14th of october. I had a few articles that got published on major sites and a press release that got circulated around some major sites as well (yahoo, etc)...so I attribute that to my increasing traffic. On the 14th everything changed though, and I reverted to where I was 2 years ago. Lost about 50% of overall traffic...maybe 70% of goog traffic.

So first let me provide my (possibly optimistic) theory and then ask a question or two.

Like I said, I operate in a very competitive niche and my site has done very well in terms of income over the last couple years with this last year being the best. We do have adsense on the site, but it only makes up about 25% of our overall income.

From what I've heard google's panda updates have been hitting competitive niches pretty hard. What I see now for the most competitive term that I was on page one for (something along the lines of "widgets") is now occupied with 4-5 solid sites that usually occupy the space dispersed throughout the top 10 results, along with 3-4 spammy sites and 1 that isn't even on topic. The spammy sites are very thin and have poorly written content but have search term killer domain names (ie widgets.net, widgets.org, etc) Again, this is a very competitive keyword we're talking about. So my theory, which I believe others have discussed as well, is that perhaps google is cycling in other sites that have set off positive signals so they can then analyze their visitors' engagement on the site compared to others ranking for the same terms - taking into consideration not only bounce/exit rate and time on site, but also if the reader returns to google to search for the same items.

If they compare this data with all the other sites that have previously occupied that SERP spot they'll be able to make a better estimate on who deserves to be there. In the end then they'll have, according to their data, the best possible sites in those spots. They may need to continually and occasionally cycle in new sites though just to keep the front runners on their toes as far as providing valuable user experience.

Since our site has decent time on site, bounce rate, etc and by comparing it to the major sites that have been there for years, we know we provide at least an equal user experience. So maybe it's just a matter of time before we bounce back.

Anyways, that's my optimistic theory...Im sure it's by no means new.

Here is my question. We run a blog on the site that is fairly popular but has content that could get old quickly. Think of writing up a blog post about an airline deal that is only running for the month of October 2011. And we cover these deals daily. We also have dynamic pages though that deliver updated prices and deals every 12 hours...which we try to direct our readers to if they've reached a blog post through google that is outdated. So my question is, should I delete all these blog posts that we've been writing for 3 years? And since we haven't yet deleted them or thrown on a "no-crawl" script is this the potential reason we got hit? We really don't want to have to delete them becuase we like to refer to old deals we've covered to put the current market in perspective. If company A had discounts of 80% in the past, we like to show our readers who want discounts from company A now what they've previously offered. We think it adds value, maybe google doesnt.

But could google think we are not to be trusted since the reader may have entered a post through search which is no longer available?

Would you guys recommend we hold tight, get rid of the pages, or have google not-crawl them anymore?

Then again, perhaps we got hit because of something else entirely...we're still checking all our stats...

chrisv1963




msg:4375410
 9:59 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

For the first time ever my old and never updated crap website (Very low quality - At a certain point I was about to close this site)is for a number of keywords outranking my main website with fresh high quality content, written by professionals.

I don't need statistics or anything else to draw one simple conclusion: Panda is crap and the Google "engineers" no longer know what they are doing.

superclown2




msg:4375411
 10:23 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

From what I know, the best handling of affiliate links is to send them through a script that you disallow to crawlers.


There is always the possibility that this could send up a flag for a manual review. I used to do this but I've reversed this policy, with, so far (!) no ill effects.

tigger




msg:4375413
 10:36 am on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

is panda really about links leaving a site? I don't think so, assuming these are quality pages and not thin ones

the best handling of affiliate links is to send them through a script that you disallow to crawlers


I tested this on a site a while ago (2 years) and this site has gone through panda updates fine

nadavs




msg:4375427
 12:05 pm on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just submitted another reconsideration request after doing some serious work on my home page, 404 page, privacy policy, and disclaimer pages on which Google employees look. Their design was different from the rest of the site, and I can understand why Google found them low quality (especially the privacy and disclaimer pages, which looked horrible, since they weren't changed since 2008).

Hopefully now my website will come across as having a higher quality and go back to where it belongs on page 1.

nadavs

steerpikegg




msg:4375446
 1:14 pm on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm done with mutilating my site. Thanks to Panda and trying to find out what on earth it takes to appease it my site is now a shadow of its former self. Given up now and sadly back to a day job for the next 20 years or so ....

endomorph1




msg:4375492
 3:52 pm on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Steerpikegg

::ditto::

walkman




msg:4375503
 4:22 pm on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

is now occupied with 4-5 solid sites that usually occupy the space dispersed throughout the top 10 results, along with 3-4 spammy sites and 1 that isn't even on topic
If they compare this data with all the other sites that have previously occupied that SERP spot they'll be able to make a better estimate on who deserves to be there. In the end then they'll have, according to their data, the best possible sites in those spots. They may need to continually and occasionally cycle in new sites though just to keep the front runners on their toes as far as providing valuable user experience.

Since our site has decent time on site, bounce rate, etc and by comparing it to the major sites that have been there for years, we know we provide at least an equal user experience. So maybe it's just a matter of time before we bounce back.


I think you may be unto something. Just consult these guidelines "More guidance on building high-quality sites [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...] " and Google will make sure the best possible sites go on top. In many niches, Google has removed a few spam sites that ranked on top 8 months later so there's hope.

syed




msg:4375536
 6:12 pm on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Our ecommerce website (30,000 indexed pages) was pandalized on Apr 11 and traffic fell by 18% and it then gradually reduced it to 30% below Pre-Panda/March traffic.

On Oct 14, Google did us right and I am now seeing a 40% jump in traffic...which is a full Panda recovery.

Here are some of the Panda Fighting activities that me and my team carried out

- Removing duplicate content from the web, especially high authority sites. We couldn't remove all even with C&D, but a good portion was removed.

- Building natural links to deep pages

- Social signals to home and other pages

- Removing outgoing links to sites that were affected by Panda (this probably didn't help much)

- Our IT worked on improving load time

- Our website design was updated - more user friendly design that increased some user activity metrics.

koan




msg:4375579
 8:10 pm on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

So what did you do, and what did you not do that you felt that you should do. The analysis would provide helpful insight.


- redesign of web site, the look & resolution were getting oldish. Old images based menu was changed to text links.
- changed ads to lesser performing but more user friendly positions in layout after redesign. I was always conservative in that area however and I'm often told I'm missing out but I respect my users.
- worked on improving load time as much as I could
- improved navigation structure (especially in homepage) for better PR focus to important areas
- noindexed tons of pages that may be useful for users but are mostly duplicate / thin content (lists of content links organized in different ways, user profiles, etc).
- sent a lot of copyright complaints to people stealing our content
- deoptimized inpage SEO for our main keywords in the layout, adding variety all around
- Fixed any problems found in Google Webmaster Tools (like duplicate titles and meta descriptions).
- removed site wide affiliate links
- decrease of interlinking between my sites
- favoring longer articles with more content

I may have forgotten a few but you can see the spirit of all those changes, fix the site as much as possible, removing anything that may be pushing it in terms of SEO and commercialization, defend it against plagiarists, improve it as much as possible for users, etc.

Note also that I didn't see much improvements for almost half a year while doing these changes but I just never stopped, whenever I thought of possible improvements, I did it, even if the site wasn't generating much income anymore. I won't lie, I was often feeling hopeless and bitter, and I'm still very cautious, Panda seems so chaotic and arbitrary, it made me paranoid. I have also applied those fixes on other sites caught by Panda and they have not recovered one bit yet.

Lenny2




msg:4375601
 8:58 pm on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Congrats! And thanks for sharing Koan and Syed. Any other recoveries out there?

Whitey




msg:4375623
 10:04 pm on Oct 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Congrats! And thanks for sharing Koan and Syed. Any other recoveries out there?

Likewise - thanks again - the analysis really helps to lift the spirits of those seeking solutions out there.

@Lenny2 - there are a number now, and the folks involved have shared a lot of info to help others. The key thing is you have to persist and nobody is claiming to be out of the woods or confident about things holding.

For those that are sitting and waiting, this isn't a good strategy, you have to keep pushing improvements through.

It won't be long before some substantiated corroborated check lists start to appear to make this a procedural exercise - to some degree they already are starting to appear.

Whitey




msg:4375689
 1:40 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Can we have some inputs on the keyword quality of returned Panda traffic and whether you are a full or partial release. There are some reports that a keyword throttle is in place [webmasterworld.com ]

It would be good to firm up if Google is matching quality sites to quality traffic and/or brands.

More analysis needed from contributers of returned sites.

sandman22




msg:4375697
 1:58 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is it possible this Oct 14th update was only rolled out in certain datacenters only (so its not accross the board while their tweaking the flaw) and in certain niches only? I noticed some sites in different niches weren't effect, whereas many others were.

gehrlekrona




msg:4375698
 1:59 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Something has happened today too, at least to my site(s). Hits is waaaaaay down from Google but up from Bing. This strange phenomena when Goog goes down, Bing goes up... weird!

sandman22




msg:4375739
 4:14 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hello all, I believe I figured out to be what happened in my case to a large extent. I have some affiliate sites that were hit hard for some unknown reason and others that were not. I also have some pages that went down only 2- 5 spots, others that went down 30 - 300 spots! My sites are not IM, but rather tangible products so people use EBay and Craigslist to sell these products. When studying this relentlessly with plagiarism tools, it appears to be scrapers and namely big brands with copied content from my sites that were affected. In fact, the 7 pages that were hit the worst (fell 40 400+ listings back) were specifically the pages that copied from my site and pasted on EBay and www.kijiji.ca and 2 others from a large niche forum/classified site that had reused my sites content (without my permission or links back of course).

Okay, these are large and popular websites and Google may have a liking for them, however they have little to no editorial review on their listings and mostly copy and paste jobs (what happened to quality content is king). In fact, these sites dont higher quality than the average website, because they don't really write their own content, but rather random sellers which mostly are too lazy to write their own content themselves and just do a copy and paste from some other site on the web... Their content is almost always copied or of low quality in nature, so I have no idea why the new 10/13 Google algo automatically assumes they are the original owners of other sites content. If I had this content years before anyone else, why would Google's algo think large classified sites and/or EBay with listings posted by random sellers should get credit as the true original, quality source of such content? I realize EBay and these classified sites aren't doing this directly themselves or intentional, however the fact is random sellers post the content and its often copied, low quality content at that, just to sell something. The sellers that use this service don't know, nor probably care about the effects of copying copyright information about a product they want to sell (theyre just interesting in getting more bids I suppose), however they should do a better job with copyright infringement and monitor the content in their listings better in my opinion..

Okay, in the past I do give Google props as they did a semi-decent job with figuring out who had the content first and the original owner of such, however this has really not been the case now with the recent Oct 13th update in my case. In fact the pages that were hardest hit and that dropped like a tank (or worst fell out of the serps completely), are the same pages that were copied from these big brand sites like EBay, kijiji.ca, Craigslist, and related classified sites that copy content from my website and paste the my content in their EBay/Craigslist listing. I guess the fact everyone wants to reuse my content is proof to its quality, however instead of be rewarding for my hard effort Google is penalizing my site enormously when I'm the victim of the content theft and to further kick me in the teeth, these same exact EBay and kijiji.ca listings with my stolen content are now on page 1 with the exact content (word for word) that was taken from my site!


Also, you would think that these listings that copied my content would go away after the ad/bid closes, however that isn't true any longer. These listings no longer go away after they are sold/closed, it looks like many of this scraped content on EBay was from listings that closed 6 - 10 months ago. From what I heard in the EBay community this is part of Ebay's SEO efofred to leave closed/inactive listings active, to flood as many listings in the Google serps as possible.., so these don't go away on their own.. I'm going to have to contact all these sites individually and request them to be removed I guess..

So if any one is using plagism tools such as Copyscape, I would look out for scrapers, especially if they're high pagerank sites like EBay and www.kijiji.ca.


By the way, I'm in the US and www.kijiji.ca is an EBay operated classified site Canada and it's 80% in French. Why are local classified ads in Canada on page 1 in the US serps whereas mine with the same exact content (and the original of the content at that) got bumped to page 37? DOesn't make sense with this Serp change. I hope these glitches are fixed soon.

sandman22




msg:4375744
 4:19 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sorry in advance for the typos guys... I was a little tired when I wrote it and forgot to use the spell checker :(. Bad habit of mine.

Play_Bach




msg:4375763
 5:23 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

> For those that are sitting and waiting, this isn't a good strategy,
> you have to keep pushing improvements through.

Says who?

SEOPTI




msg:4375765
 5:30 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

For those sitting and waiting? Nonsense, develop non-google income streams. People who sit and wait will die a slow death.

Play_Bach




msg:4375770
 5:58 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Maybe. Maybe not. From what I can tell, Panda/Google is a work in progress. Haven't seen any evidence to suggest otherwise. In some situations, doing nothing is not only a perfectly acceptable response, sometimes it's also the right one.

pawas




msg:4375772
 6:04 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

My shopping website is penalized in Google in every shopping season Oct-Dec every year. I am fed up.

Whitey




msg:4375775
 6:16 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

In some situations, doing nothing is not only a perfectly acceptable response, sometimes it's also the right one

@Play_Bach - You may have less cash flow to pay for the remedial works , feed yourselves, meet company targets etc. etc.

Google seems likely to continue to diminish the results as well if nothings fixed or sites are left in limbo from what I'm seeing. The longer you leave it , the less you'll have, and the more you'll have to do. That's really where I'm coming from - but you may see things differently.

What's you view ?

DNelly




msg:4375847
 9:13 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've got another question. I'm cleaning up my site after my google smack down on the 14th. I know one of the largest components of panda is the elimination of duplicate content.

So is this duplicate content...

Lets say I have a blog post I wrote to cover a promotional offer from widget company A, something like

mysite.com/company-A-Promotional-Offer/

then I've tagged the post with company A, which has the URL

mysite.com/tag/company-A/

Since this is the first time I have ever tagged company A, the content on both of these pages will be identical...that is until I tag company A again.

Do I need to eliminate this tactic?

Also, in my google/webmaster tools, google notifies me occasionally that I have duplicate content with this same method even if the tag is filled with different posts? Sometimes the URL structure is very similar (off by two words or so) but they serve completely different purposes. Do I need to watch out for this too with Panda?

ryanep




msg:4375927
 1:18 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Noticed something interesting. Went through almost all the backlinks that I had for my site and I noticed that a lot of inner pages with my link have been de-indexed and its cache removed. This includes some of the "green light" directories that google accepts.

It might be that older sites which have organic links placed in inner pages have been hit because google isn't counting the links in the inner pages anymore since its been de-indexed. I'll bet that scrappers and black-hat sites have links more prominently displayed in homepages which from my list of links weren't hit.

Can I kindly ask for those affected to have a look at their inner-page links to confirm what I'm seeing.

Thanks.

Ryan

mhansen




msg:4375930
 1:55 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

mysite.com/tag/company-A/


We block indexing of all our tag and category pages... reserving the indexing for the actual article content itself. Tags and category type pages, in my opinion, are for onsite visitors, not search engine traffic... so we "noindex, follow" them.

If (using your example) "Company A" deserves a page of its own, we will write and a separate detailed page about "Company A" and allow it to be indexed to attract the search visitors, and within the content of that page, also show a list of all articles that are tagged "company-a" or categorical related articles.

I hope that all made sense.

MH

sandman22




msg:4376203
 9:08 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

YEs my inner pages were all effected.. Some only dropped 5 spots,others droppede 30 - 100 plus spots back. The ones that dropped only 5 spots had small,spammy scrapers steal my content, the pages that dropped 30 plus spots were scraped by sellers using Ebay and Kijii.ca (or whatever it is), and a few were droped due to a major forum in my niche that also has a classifieds site. It seems like Google is blindly giving Ebay sites rights to all content, even though they sellers typically copy content from top ranking/informative sites (like mine used to be). I truly got kicked in the teeth, just because sellers on these big sites like to copy and paste my content.

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