- Medium size site (100k pages indexed), long history.
- in entertainment/content
- Large amount of content, but all of it thick, detailed, original content. (thin content pages and people scraping or excerpting our content now outrank us)
- Ton of backlinks from a wide variety of quality sites
- Medium level of user engagement, low bounce rate, 2.5 pageviews per visitor
- Monetised through Adsense and other banner ads.
- Have never used black hat tactics at all, and have mostly focused on creating quality content and not so much on SEO at all beyond a very basic level.
- Had SEO issues which hadn't been fixed pre-panda. For instance Google for some reason indexed several thousand random search pages from our database that we never gave them and Google seemed to be generating itself. Google also somehow indexed some pages which didn't exist, still not sure how that happened. Had an old message board which Google had also indexed, even though again we didn't give it to them, however we hadn't "nofollowed" it because again, we were focused mainly on content and not SEO.
- User content generation? None except for the old, closed message board.
- Well known, well respected brand, especially in our area.
- Huge amount of growth in the past year, as much as 3x, in all areas from Google, to direct, to social, etc.
- Scrapers steal a LOT of our content, to the point there's no longer anything we can do about it. However most of our competitors who weren't hit have the same issue.
How We've been hit by Panda:
- Massive deranking of all keywords across the board. Lost nearly all top keyword rankings.
- Traffic from Google dropped 40% when Panda implemented, dropped further in following weeks down to 50% on average.
- Unable to determine any pattern in the pages hit the worst, some of the pages which were most heavily de-ranked had some of the most in-depth, extensive, widely shared linked to, and heavily trafficked from a variety of sources outside just Google. Panda penalty seems to have been applied globally, the keywords hit the least still sunk 7 - 10 spots. The worst ones sank 300 or more.
My Current Theories On The Cause:
- The only thing I've been able to come up with is all those random, search pages Google was erroneously indexing. Also we weren't using "canonical" in our headers so in some cases Google was also erroneously indexing bogus URLs to some of our pages, so that it looked like there were three copies of a page, when it was really just Google creating different URLs for the same page, which, again, we weren't giving them. It's sort of like Google created the problem then penalized us for it. But none of the duplicate pages google created were ranked highly or bringing in any traffic or all, they were just out there somewhere. But that's the only theory I can come up with to explain what happened. Have disallowed and used canonicals to theoretically eliminate this now, but there has been no change at all.