Seeing a 40% decline in sales since Google adjusted its algorithm, online ergonomic-products retailer Ergo In Demand Inc. in Central Point, Ore., reduced its 17-person staff to five, moved to a 4,500-square-foot office space from one more than double in size and cut $4,000 in monthly software subscriptions.
Many small but growing Web retailers say they have been punished since Google, which handles nearly two-thirds of all Web searches, moved in late February to weed out "content farms," or sites that post information without attention to quality or by copying text from other sources such as government websites.
But the impact was also felt by large e-commerce sites. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., and eBay Inc. appeared to rise in search results, according to companies that track Google rankings. One shopping site that has benefited, Buy.com, says it was "delighted" by the initial change.
Still, many small businesses that rely on Google for Web traffic are taking it hard—and looking for ways to adapt.
"We got caught in the fire," says Mitchell Lieberman, chief executive of One Way Furniture Inc., an online furniture retailer in Melville, N.Y., that had revenue of $17 million in 2010.
His company's website, onewayfurniture.com, saw its Web traffic from Google drop as much as 64% after the changes. Part of the problem, Mr. Lieberman suspects, is his company has relied on manufacturer descriptions for the 30,000 products it sells. He says many of his competitors buy from the same manufacturers and use the same write-ups.
Mr. Lieberman has started paying free-lance writers to create original, more detailed product descriptions. He recently added canonical tags to his website, which help search engines distinguish original from duplicated content. Despite his efforts, he says his site's ranking on Google has yet to improve.
1:49 pm on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)
Right, WebMD is an excellent site you don't need any others (no sarcasm, I mean it).
I agree that these sites have the bases covered for your traditional run of the mill health topics. The sites that I work with are in complementary alternative medicine (CAM). I can assure you that WebMD and the rest are in bed with Pharma and that traditional stuff. They do not adequately cover alternative and more natural approaches to health.
There is a whole other world of medicine out there that has fantastic success. I would argue that this latest update favors traditional medicine – big players. Too bad. I know doctors that have tremendous success killing Cancer. They were pushed way down in the organic results by the 4/11 update. That’s too bad for the people who are going to die because they didn’t find alternative or experimental integrative treatments. Really, quite sad.
The Panda update definitely has winners and losers. Google sure has a lot of power!
12:50 am on Apr 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
I don't believe the final results of the Panda update are complete yet. I currently manage over two hundred websites which i watch the stats on very closely. The websites that had experienced a gain in traffic have begun to lose traffic at the same time the sites that lost all traffic have now shown back up on the radar. Just a guess, but it appears that there are different stages to the update that are not based on design but the resources of Google's system. I would expect the program to be written to run in the order of, 1. Pull down and reevaluate all websites that have been red flagged, for example duplicate content(kind of like a sandbox). 2. Analyze and re-index the rest of the pages for value. 3. Reintroduce the pages that we're pulled. Just another guess, but i have a feeling the effects of the update will continue for the next few months. I would expect Google to release another update/patch in October to improve the results of Panda.
1:50 am on Apr 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
I would expect Google to release another update/patch in October to improve the results of Panda.
Thanks for the real encouraging words, we'll hang on until then. Is it October 2011 in your opinion or 2012?
2:32 am on Apr 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
My prediction is Panda is set to align with the Mayan Calendar, starting on the 8th day of June 2012, and ending in world destruction on December 21st.
3:24 am on Apr 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
I estimate October 2011, just before the holidays.
As far as new websites that we have been releasing since the Panda update, we have seen better results with pages that are smaller in size with less internal links. Not sure if that is due to Google's new ranking system, or because smaller pages are easier for Google to spider.
In relation to the actual design, such as color and layout, there has not yet been reported issues that effect traffic.
It really seems to be related to how fast the pages load and if the content is relative to what one is searching for. The age of the domains looks like it is playing a role in ranking as well as if the proper domain is being used, for example; we notice most of our .org sites have been reviewed if they contained to much commercial advertisement.
In relation to duplicate content, our sites with a page rank of 5 and above have not been effected greatly, but our sites with low page ranks and new domains lost over 60% of their existing traffic volume.
3:35 am on Apr 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
There is a whole other world of medicine out there that has fantastic success. I would argue that this latest update favors traditional medicine – big players.
I have noticed this, too. If there were search engines in the 1400s, Copernicus' heretic web site would have been demoted with Panda for not being a mainstream authority site. The Earth is the center of the universe sites would all be in the top spots.
Panda supports all of the big pharma backed sites, the same information people can get from TV commercials. The search engines should be some place people can go to get a wider variety of views.
4:25 am on Apr 27, 2011 (gmt 0)
When i search for medicine, although i found a wide variety of results some related to holistic medicine and then conventional medicine such as Webmd also appeared. Webmd has been around for quite some time and offers a lot of interesting content and information, they also have established a page rank 8. It very difficult for people and small companies to establish the content and development Webmd can buy or are unwilling to do the work for free. Another factor that places websites such as Webmd up there are the results are generally related to what the search term is. I believe Google is listing sites not by the size or profits of corporations but by several other factors. If you think about it, it would actually be to Google's advantage to exclude the large corporate sites out there so they could increase their Adwords earnings.
I think it is just getting tougher to compete, there was a time in the late 90's when the corporations were not listed on the internet and you could really rake in the cash, but now the time is here, they have arrived and we must compete with them now. The way i look at it is, i think it's pretty cool that a small company on the internet can still compete and win against large companies like Wal-mart, Target and Sears.
Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com, an online job marketplace, suggests that Google may have played a role in the rising unemployment, though mainly outside the U.S. The search company's recent "Panda" algorithm change, implemented to reduce the presence of low-quality content in search results, appears to have decimated the content farming business, he said in a phone interview.
12:13 pm on May 10, 2011 (gmt 0)
The search company's recent "Panda" algorithm change, implemented to reduce the presence of low-quality content in search results, appears to have decimated the content farming business, he said in a phone interview.
Well of course, but it's a double edged sword. If Google only ranks the large sites, both content thieves AND smaller, original sites are hurt. One day the results will just be recognizable companies.
12:46 am on May 11, 2011 (gmt 0)
You have to feel the weight on the small businesses. My hat goes off to you and I hope you find a way to see the opportunity behind this challenge.