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Panda 20 - a Full Update - 2012-09-27

 8:59 pm on Oct 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Seoroundtable has reported that Matt Cutts confirmed a large Panda update occured on 9/27.

Update: Matt Cutts told me this is a fairly major update to the Panda algorithm affecting 2.4% of search queries. More on this tomorrow.Barry went into more detail at searchengineland [seroundtable.com...] [searchengineland.com...]

[edited by: Andy_Langton at 7:23 pm (utc) on Oct 5, 2012]
[edit reason] Corrected link [/edit]



 6:43 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is G trying to filter out affiliates, regardless of them being thick or thin?

This myth goes back at least 10 years yet there are still plenty of folks making respectable income from affiliate programs.


 6:44 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ maxmoritz

They were primarily replaced by a combination of big box stores and competitors (many with very low quality sites)...both with a far smaller selection, worse usability, etc.

Are those searches fully monetized as well (top and right side full of advertisers)?

@ outland88

Test after test I have run, in these areas, show small to medium sized commerce business sites are being wiped out wholesale.

Same question, are those searches fully monetized (ad slots full top and right side)...my guess is no


 7:12 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Are those searches fully monetized as well (top and right side full of advertisers)?

Yes, they are.

I could be wrong, but I don't think the Google search team is trying to get rid of small businesses on purpose. I think they're just a bunch of nerds who feel they're at war with SEO.

E-commerce sites/niches are some of the most competitive around. So unless you were a big brand you had to buy links one way or another...or you didn't rank. Period. Therefore, the reason you see so many small businesses, particularly e-commerce sites, getting knocked out, is because when Google goes to war against SEO, the small business e-commerce sites are collateral damage.

With Penguin they get taken out due to the necessary link building they've done. With Panda the big brands get a pass...so it's ok for them to have pages with "this product is out of stock" where the key-phrase is in the title and/or H1...but for a small business e-commerce site even if they've got unique product descriptions, if their pages are "low content" (when they SHOULD be due to the similarity of products in some product classes), they're toast.

It's not that Google is trying to get rid of small business, IMO, it's that they don't care. So in their war with SEO they're ok with whatever the collateral damage is, as long as they get to feel like they're winning. To hell with all the people's lives they destroy in the process, not to mention diversity on the web and better shopping experiences for consumers.


 7:16 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I read 2.4% of all SEARCH QUERIES.

They never really quantify this to a point where I get what it means.

Is that 2.4% of:

a) "all queries performed by end users"


b) "all the unique phrases that were queried for" ?

There's a big difference...'b' is much larger than 2.4% of "all queries performed by end users".


 7:32 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

They never really quantify this to a point where I get what it means.

Is that 2.4% of:

a) "all queries performed by end users"


b) "all the unique phrases that were queried for" ?

There's a big difference...'b' is much larger than 2.4% of "all queries performed by end users".



 7:33 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maxmoritz, out of curiosity, what's the exit rate for your site?

Are any areas of it noindexed?


 7:57 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is G trying to filter out affiliates, regardless of them being thick or thin? Anyone seeing affiliate sites that are ranking high?

I think as an affiliate you have to have something to stand out above the merchant you are promoting otherwise you are just an "extra step" in the funnel that just needs to be eliminated (in Google eyes). Their goal is ultimately to get the visitor to what they want/need in the shortest amount of time with the least number of steps. If you have nothing to add other then they want you out of the way.

Sometimes you can't but help to think that Google "hates" affiliates. Just by reading the raters handbook you just have that impression that that is their attitude towards affiliates. But can you blame them? Some of that is probably justified due to the number of people that have been spamming the index all these years.

I myself, am an affiliate with a EMD or PMD. So far I have not seen any changes in my rankings due to the recent algorithm changes and updates. Keeping fingers crossed. One particular site has been around for about 5 years and content is all unique and the affiliate portion makes up perhaps 10% of the site. Just recently also I have tightened up each page and got rid of lots of ads and distractions. As result, conversions are up and traffic has increased.


 8:05 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google is not search engine anymore, Google - popularity engine.


 8:39 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

idd, it's much harder to hack "popularity rank"

good old times when you could get rich overnight with some SEO abracadabra are gone, adapt or..


 9:28 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes, they are.

I could be wrong, but I don't think the Google search team is trying to get rid of small businesses on purpose. I think they're just a bunch of nerds who feel they're at war with SEO.

E-commerce sites/niches are some of the most competitive around. So unless you were a big brand you had to buy links one way or another...or you didn't rank.

Right, I don't think the motive is to eliminate e-commerce sites as much as it is to fully monetize queries, in your case where the searches are what I might term "hyper-commercial" the ad space is sold out and there is not much room for further monetization. It's on the longer tail (ad space not sold out) where they are replacing commercial content with non-commercial. In your case I'd just stay on the link building, old school SEO, you have competition to beat, whereas on the other not so hyper competitive stuff you are just shut out, no competition to be found.


 12:24 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't think the motive is to eliminate e-commerce sites as much as it is to fully monetize queries


Google asset's are more significant than SERP movements in the grand scheme of things. Those in large money making verticals would be aware of this.

When you hear Google saying things like " they don't prejudice search results in favor of making money for Google ", that's true, but it doesn't mean the page layout doesn't favor Google, where they definitely do favor income to themselves.

These updates, are designed IMO to eliminate the remaining organic slots from anything that manipulates a query. They are cutting off completely any low hanging fruit - anything that manipulates on any scale. Repeat "scale".

To safeguard the remaining slots, brands appear to have been promoted and maintained, and since Panda and Penguin require more refinement, they stay elevated until, presumably, the jobs done.

We probably loose site of the bigger picture when discussing the SERP's.

That to me is the clear distinction.


 1:23 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Although I can understand why, I'm still surprised at the number of people I read talking about closing their sites down, moving them to another domain and so on. Google might think they own the internet, but I'm not going to let them dictate what domain I can use, and what they think is "quality" content (i.e. when it really is quality content despite it being penalized as otherwise). No way would I take my labors of love and hard work down because of Google and their rules and favoritisms of big brands. Why.. take those sites down now, what if in a few years there's another big player who loves EMD's, and who lets indepedent and small websites compete with the big guns, just like we used to. Your little "spammy, low quality" site might just rise above again.
I build for me and my visitors, not for Google. I've also suffered considerable income loss this year, but not for a second have I considered moving or closing my websites just because G thinks everyone besides big business is a spammer.


 3:20 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

^^^ that's all well and good. But like you Google has rights too. It's their SERPs and if you want some of their free traffic you have to play by their rules and go by their determination of what quality content is.


 3:48 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

True that. But building a site solely to please Google in each and every way is really just akin to slavery.
I don't know if it will make any difference at all, but I also stopped using Analytics and Webmaster Tools about 3 months ago - could there be more harm than good in using Google's "free tools"?


 4:37 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not using Webmaster Tools puts yourself at a disadvantage - not getting messages/alerts + no keyword data if 'not provided' is a huge chunk of your traffic.

Only reason to not use GA and WMT is if you're trying hide ownership/association between sites or if you're running some kind of SEO network. They don't use GA for rankings or algos. Plus not enough webmasters use it. And you can always opt-out if you don't want your data shared anonymously.


 4:55 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have one site that got hit by Penguin. On the 27th, my Google traffic fell a little further. But what's really interesting is that starting on October 1, my Bing and Yahoo traffic started rising - about as far as my Google traffic fell. Between the two of them, they're more than making up the difference.


 4:56 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Rosella the data they collect with WMT they collect whether you join you use WMT or not. So there is no good reason to not be using it. WMT runs no java script on your site or anything like that.


 7:06 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Figured that was the case viral - but I thought, if there's anything I can do to just give them less of that big brother power, I'm going to do it. In the scheme of things dropping WMT and Analytics probably just makes my life that little bit harder though. I may scramble back to them at some point (which is all part of their plan after all).

Martin Ice Web

 7:52 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just to add my two cents I see the same thing as maxmoritz sees. Many small business with unique content even if they are a manufacturer of a product get wiped out. I see "sorry we donīt have this item" ( many from amazon ) only because the have it in a sitemap submitted query in page 1.
When I look for infomation I get now blog entries from sources I would NEVER trust. The old forums that i trusted are now gone ( but on page 1 in bing ).
The discussion that google want to be a knowledge base shows the lack of interest in webmasters from google. Google does not create content it finds content. If many websites close down there is nothing to find. The few left big sites will realy fast see that google makes no money out of their knowledge.
To eleminate affiliates is - in my opinion - ok. But the biggest affiliats ( like amazon, price compare engines ) got strenght while self written content as been demoted.
Big brands can do what they want ( someone wrote in this threat ) an I see a big brand in germany that is always on site 1 that has the same content on its subdomain!

While I am with claaarky and his theory about user metrics i think the barrier is way to high to get over it for small business.


 10:47 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Martin Ice Web

I agree with your last post, especially your last sentence. My website is ecommerce, in a competitive niche and was starting to do well around 6 to 7 months ago. Then Google's updates threw my site to the last page. The rankings have improved, but not enough to generate enough sales to keep me afloat financially.


As much as I agree with some of your comments, unfortunately my ecommerce store is my full time job and if not enough money is coming in, I may have no other choice but to close my site. I really hope it doesn't come to that though. We'll see how the next month or so goes.


 7:20 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

The searchengineland link in the OP isn't working for me.

Ah think I found the problem - there is a digit missing at the end of the url - the number 1

so it should end 135291

[edited by: nickreynolds at 7:25 pm (utc) on Oct 5, 2012]

Andy Langton

 7:23 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

@nickreynolds - thanks, corrected.


 8:26 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think that this should be called the TripAdvisor update.
Are google about to take over TripAdvisor? Seriously about 40% of the top 100 results for many popular travel destinations are from that site (or their properties)!

Martin Ice Web

 9:24 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is not a discussion of my page but a way that we have in common with many site owners.

Jet I think it is time for us to summarize what we have done to escape from this angry panda.

Let me have a look at prepanda days.
Like the very most of us, I was running a good going website, in my case it is an ecom site located in germany. Prepanda we got a lot of visitors. Many liked the site, some not. We are not to heavy linked but got some deeplinks from topic related forums. We also got some links from very big magazines.

Prepanda features:
-about 10.000 products/pages
-2300 links
-steady traffic/conversions
-although we could get manufacture descriptions we have selfmade handwritten descriptions
-we have renamed pictures from manufacture and added our own pictures

Now panda comes along and with every panda we lost a bit of traffic but the traffic that sticked was more targeted. Our conversions were going up.
The whole thing went wrong with panda in april 12. This panda took away 50% of the traffic. Now the traffic has been realy untargeted since. With every new appearance of the angry panda we lost more traffic and the targeted traffic is way down. No to say that conversion went down too and bounce rate went up.

After 3 month of waiting i decided to do something.
So i began to look what panda could cause to be so angry about us. I have to admit that we did have another site with same products runing on the same server.So i thought DC would be the problem. The site has been moved and all relations to the old site have been vanished.

I think the above fits to many other site that have been hit by panda!

So what we did is:

-reworked every single product titles, descriptions and metas
-we "siloed" our products because the site structure was a bit confusing
-we added a lot of new fresh and related content with pictures
-like from google suggested we set the canonical tag for similar widgets to a summary page
-we did kill many links
-end of juli we completly redesigned our site
-we validated our html and php source code
-we began to ask every user what he thinks about the site ( and let the suggestions flow into design)

-in addition to claaakys opinion we looked at the bounce rate, time on site and the other user metrics.
After the redesign the user metrics showed a significant positiv growing.

The latest panda now was very strange because we got old very strong ranking back for 4! days and the site was runing very well. Then suddenly all this has been cut of since today.

As of today i am depressed to the that we are outranked by very low content pages that have only 5-6 words on it or pages with heavy repeated keywords or 20 times the same description. It is not that we donīt get traffic but the traffic is misguided. So bounce rate has went up.

My conclusion about the panda animal is that it has pushed down many affiliated sites but killed more legal sites.
My own searches show me that 8 out of 10 results are not fitting to my query. So it is not my site that has the problem but the panda that gets things wrong. My big question is now why does kongoo panda hurt my site?

Why does panda send me the wrong traffic? And my conclusion is by all the answers in this forum, we are to targeted for the querys. The most pages in serps are not deep ecom sites but have a very shallow array of products. This does not cause to haevy duplicate content.
The last EMD update opened my eyes. This was a next step towards overtargeted ( not over optimized ) pages. Since this is the idea of search engines to find most targeted sites this leads me to
1. googles algorithm is not good enough to to deliberate between good content/quality signals and low content, untrusted sites what in my eyes is not given because prepanda they did a very good job
I took a look at many pandalized site from poeple on this forum and have to say 95% do not fit into shallow/low content sites.


2. by looking at all the quality updates that either did the complete opposite of what they should have done or this updates did more colateral damage as that they were improving the serps.
If I now take all the little pieces of the puzzle
-introduce knowledge base
-moving from free to payed adds listings
-kill legal business sites
-promote shallow content sites
-force poeple to sign up into google+
-promote own services
it makes a lot of sense that google is on the way to kill al free traffic and become a giant pay for information mega complex.

The more i think of it and donīt see any business/sites recover but get tanked and googandas earnings go up the more i think its point 2.

I realy would like to see one from google who has the threnght to tell us what this is all about. So we can deal with it and say if the work we are doing is worth it.


 1:33 am on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't know if it's worth making informational websites anymore. Not everyone has a product to sell. Not everyone has a brand, or wants a brand. I enjoyed a couple of years making, what I would consider, an amazing income from informational based websites that I created 100% myself from design to content to marketing. I do very little link building, and these days I do none. My sites generated natural links. Some still rank well, others are gone. My income this year dropped to 1/5th of what it was when times were good. My sites mostly receive traffic from the few links they naturally received from other authority sites (worth their weight in gold). But, after making a full time living online for the past 6 years, it's at the point where I'm thinking "will I have to find a job?".
I'm not saying we have some sort of right to rank well in Google or to stay there for an indefinite period, or that relying on their rankings to make an income is wise (sometimes it just falls in your lap and you make the most of it), but they very clearly have zero concern with livelihoods that are being ruined at the push of a button.

I don't want to give up and say "you win" to G, but like others here I'm struggling to know where to turn next.


 12:16 pm on Oct 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ok then - I guess in some way my 13 year old - never before zapped by Google update site lost about 10% referrals from the big google.

Started on September 28, so I guess it's this EMD thing. Glad I have a huge direct traffic following and high traffic in general.

I have no idea on where to start to recapture the referrals or even if I should try…


 1:14 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here a tricky question, lets take my site. It was hit april 2011, the site had 30.000 unique visits a day.

Now after a TOTAL redesign, new cms, cut down the site pages with 70%, Metrics before 82% bounce rate (be cause the user got what they wanted at once), time on site 0.49min, that has changed to 49% bounce, 2 min. on site - Now I have about 100 unique visits a day from google.

Now the question how will they calculate my metrics or what ever they do with almost 0 visits from google search rest from google image. If I have to break even in someway with my visits before Panda, that would take forever.

I hope they recalculate new every month and dont look at any history, be cause the history dont exist anymore, so what the use.

[edited by: zeus at 1:40 pm (utc) on Oct 8, 2012]


 1:23 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

UnSEOing for Google...SEOing for all

- lalit kumar


 3:23 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

zeus, we hope you let us know how it works out, as you have in the past. The problem here is that we're all still guessing about what metrics Google actually uses. We know "in words" what Panda is trying to measure - but not technically how they do it - or try to do it. So if you do get some more exact insight, that might help MANY other people.


 7:53 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

tedster - as soon something happens I will post it, but I dont have big hopes. Webmasterworld is my only SEO forum :).

One thing has changed over the last 2 month, before my frontpage was on the last page on google search, for a big keyword, but over the time, I have slowly moved upward, now page 24, but I have also change keyword density and got more links to site.

Befor Panda I was page 2-3


 1:56 am on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)


Can you tell me if you increased or decreased the keyword density and what type of anchor text does the links that you got use?

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