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Panda, Galleries, and Directories

 5:03 pm on Apr 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi there, Everyone:

I think I already know the answer to this one, but I'll ask anyway.

Can having a photo gallery with minimal text on it be the cause for a Panda demotion to your whole site?

Likewise, how about a business directory where there are lots of categories that have only ONE business listing, such as:

Widget Dealers New York (one listing)
Widget Dealers Boston (one listing)
Widget Dealers New Jersey (one listing)


I have tried to look at the pages that lost the MOST traffic after the March 23rd Panda update, and it sees like ALMOST ALL the pages lost traffic by more or less the same margin (around 30%)

The strange thing is that some pages that I hadn't updated (and thought were thin) have DOUBLED in traffic since that March 23 Panda update.

Thanks in advance.



 3:16 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Of course I'm sure you've already familiar with the various theories, conjectures, and speculations about Panda. My own opinion is that user behavior is the biggest factor. If your gallery has interesting images, it will tend to hold a visitor's attention, and therefore give positive signals. But visitors to pages with thin content will likely give negative signals. You didn't say what percentage of your pages have thin content, but that might be a factor.


 5:30 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I can tell you that my site that consists mainly of images was hit very badly by Panda. Time spent on site is minimal because with most image sites people find the image they are looking for and are gone. I have spent a lot of time adding text content and the site has made a partial recovery.
Quite frankly nothing seems to make sense because MFA pages with very little content are, in some cases , still outranking me.


 5:51 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)


Great question. The entire sector for one of my sites was hit by Panda last year. Every single major site that had photo galleries. None of us got ranking back.

Art and photo sites are inherently "thin." Google's main algo and Panda never attempted to differentiate between ecommerce and art/gallery sites. Cutts and company have never communicated any attempt to distinguish art/galleries from everything else.

In my sector/niche, there is no commercial intention.

Since I got Pandalized, no new pages even get indexed. Every new page I create is noindex, nofollow'ed just to keep the site from getting worse Pandalization.

I'm giving the people what they want but Google is absolutely clueless. It's kind of nice to design pages now where you can make as many changes as you want to improve user experience without having to think about Google and rankings.

What I hope to do in the future if I ever find the time is write original articles and still noindex every page with images. It seems kind of silly, but what the hay. Maybe the engineers in the Plex will get around to more intelligent algo design instead of fine-tuning Google Suggestions for the millionth time and a bunch of other boring, superficial things.


 7:52 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

What I hope to do in the future if I ever find the time is write original articles and still noindex every page with images. It seems kind of silly, but what the hay.

Wow... that sounds pretty drastic.

Really, there HAS to be something out there where a site / section of a site that emphasizes images would not be hit by Panda.

I guess I will stop giving away photos for free to people since google apparently doesn't think that provides any value to my users ;)


 8:22 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you want to recover from Panda you have to play Google's game. How can Google possibly tell if you have an image gallery or a page full of copied content unless you can verify that they belong to you. I believe that Google+ is part of the answer to this.

The web crawlers do recognise text, so good descriptive content works for me, sadly a picture by itself, although it may tell a thousand stories is just not enough for Google now. Perhaps when the bots get smarter they may recognise original images but at the moment they do not.


 9:20 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

...sadly a picture by itself, although it may tell a thousand stories is just not enough for Google now...

I tend to agree with you on that. I am going to remove the gallery and take the pictures that are relevant from the gallery and post them on already existing article pages.

thanks again.


 7:14 pm on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ok, removed my gallery. Hopefully that will help to please google.


 5:26 am on Apr 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

My pandalized site is entirely photo gallery. My photos have descriptions, but apparently that was insufficient.

I used to have a page for each image. Lately, having tried lots of other changes, I've come to suspect that I simply have too many pages for the amount of content, both text and image, on those pages. Like butter spread over too much bread, as Bilbo put it.

So I recently revamped my whole architecture so that I no longer have individual image pages, just category pages with images and captions displayed in a lightbox.

So far this has not helped, but it was too recent to be in time for the last known Panda refresh. Right now I'm down to about 1/4 the former page count in a site: search, and not all image pages have been de-indexed yet. I 301 redirected the images pages to the categories, I expect that is causing de-indexing to take longer, but I don't want to lose visitors or juice. The final outcome should be about 1/10 the previous number of indexed pages.

So after the next Panda refresh, I'll let you know how it worked out. So far there's been close to zero change in traffic.


 9:04 pm on Apr 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

let us know how it goes, freejung. Looking forward to hearing your experience with this:

So far there's been close to zero change in traffic.

Have you noticed any change in the user metrics though?

and when you look at the new structure of the site, do you think it is MORE user friendly than before?

Personally, the way you describe it (making category pages with several images on them) sounds more friendly to me AS A USER of your site. So I would have to think that your metrics are going to improve (and hopefully traffic with it).


 4:52 am on Apr 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here is what I have seen in regards to panda and sites with lots of pages and duplicated content. For example, ecommerce site all use the same manufact descriptions so you have thousands upon thousands of websites all using those very same descriptions and yet the ones that rank in the top are using them too.

So clearly, you can use these descriptions and still rank. There are many industries like this and this is what allows them sites to rank high while others get knocked down:

Offer more than your competition. Google probably sees all sites that are selling "blue widgets" as the same...all selling blue widgets, same products and same descriptions. But its the one that is offering the most that will win. Who is offering additional images, videos? reviews? ratings? other stats...

That is EXACTLY what I am seeing. This is not complete speculation, its what I am seeing for my own eyes.


 6:21 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Have you noticed any change in the user metrics though?

Well, yeah, but a lot of that is because the page structure is so different. Pageviews per visitor is down, but not as much as I was expecting, actually, implying that people are viewing more category pages than they did before. Time on site decreased slightly but not much, even though browsing through the images is faster. Bounce rate is up slightly, but that's because you can view lots of images without leaving the page you landed on.

All in all, it looks to me like people are viewing more actual content per visit and generally getting more out of the site. I'm not sure whether it looks that way to Google, but if they're using Chrome data they should be able to tell.


 6:43 pm on Apr 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ freejung:

thanks for the update. I changed a lot of my static information pages to wordpress and either my google analytics code is messed up, OR my bounce rate dropped in half and my pages per visit doubled.

I kind of think that I hosed my GA code, because the articles are the same artilces that I have always had on there... just a new layout.

Well see how it goes.

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