Content_ed - 4:15 pm on Nov 20, 2011 (gmt 0) [edited by: tedster at 7:54 am (utc) on Nov 22, 2011]
Having looked at large numbers of sites that got hit, I can see problems with some of them. Of course, I see the same problems, in the same magnitude, with sites that were Panda neutral or beneffited.
I don't want to bore everybody to death with protestations about my two Pandalized sites, I'll only say that the professional SEO's who have looked at them just say, "Wow, they really screwed up here."
I've spent a couple hundred hours this year filing DMCA complaints, which gives the minor satisfaction of seeing Google's search results fill up with "A page has been removed" results when I do test searches these days. But one thing I learned from this experience, perhaps too late, is that infringements are far more targetted than I had every realized.
I kept coming across large numbers of infringements on single pages, in the thousands, created by single individuals using various free blogging platforms and syndication services to try to drive traffic/PageRank to their affiliate sites. Before I studied it, I always though that infringements were basically one page at a time things, driven by lazy kids and individual bloggers who wanted attention.
Now that I realize there are particular pages drive the bulk of the problem, I can concentrate on cleaning up 100% of the infringements on the less popular pages first, which would reduce the percentage of content Google sees as "duplicate" on my site. I'd say that 5% of my pages account for 95% of the infringements.
I don't know how to judge between a update and a tweak, unless it's the magnitude of the results. I'm sure they know they have problems, but Google's married to the thing because the desparately wanted to depress traffic to some of the largest scammy sites without manual intervention, and the algorithm has done that.
And it really doesn't help that when they solicited feedback in the thread I got the site list from, the majority of the webmasters posting weren't impacted by Panda at all. So if Google simply put all the sites in a spreadsheet and is monitoring the results, they may think they've solved 90% of the problems already. You'd be surprised how many of the sites who reported problems have seen soaring traffic this year, whether because they are still building out or because they beneffited from Panda. A lot of them saw a change in their key phrases and freaked out, even though their Google traffic was rising!
As to recover times, the fastest "permanent" recovery I saw was a single Panda cycle, about a month and a half in that case. In other cases, I saw traffic shoot up again after a week, sometimes way over the intial level, and then come crashing way down at the next major Panda update. Since I'm just looking at Alexa data with no site history, I don't know if that means they did some SEO work that temporarily helped, or if it's just whack Panda.
I did the digging for a specific reason. I commented on a thread last week that I had never seen a documented Panda 1.0 recovery, and I figured I better find out for myself.
Seeing that sites can recover from Panda, I'm more inclined to experiment than I would be if I thought I was just pulling my own chain.
[edited by: tedster at 7:54 am (utc) on Nov 22, 2011]