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Analyze Panda Losers That Don't Fit The Mold



5:55 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

So we've had two iterations of Panda now, and with each iteration has come a publish list of the biggest losers. We all know, if we're honest, that a lot of the losers on those lists deserved to lose and lost for obvious reasons.

The point of this thread is to pick out the sites from those lists which DO NOT fit that mold, sites which it's not obvious why they lost, and figure out why they were hit.

In doing so, maybe we'll understand why Panda has hit so many here who don't seem to deserve it either. Here's the list of sites to discuss, I suggest we take them one at a time and simply go down the list one at a time and each list reasons we think each site might have been Pandalized. Once we think we've come up for an explanation for that site, we check it off and move on to the next one:



6:14 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'll start with the easiest to explain...


Obviously PRNewswire is a legitimate service which distributes press releases. They should not be Pandalized. However because they distribute press releases ALL of their content is duplicated elsewhere on other sites. Panda doesn't understand this. It's a flaw in the algo, this shouldn't have happened to them.

I think we can check that one off the list, right?


6:18 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Let's talk about...


They're a fairly well known entertainment site that writes 100% original content. They aren't really a content farm, doesn't seem like they should have been targeted. Any theories on why this site specifically was hit?


6:21 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)


Big Panda Minus : Background Color top fold


6:24 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

>>Big Panda Minus : Background Color top fold

What about the background color? And are you referring to ads above the fold? Let's be very specific.


6:25 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

What about the background color?

Please check discussion here.


6:28 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@browsee I realize but just trying to get it all in one place applied to specific sites, so we can look for a pattern to back up theories. So state it again here!

So you're suggesting that the dark background color above the fold hurts them, even though the rest of their background color is white? Correct?

That's interesting because if you look at the next site on the list...


They also have a darker background color. Do you think your theory applies to them as well?

Clearly that's not the only factor. Because many sites with dark background colors aren't hit. But it could be one if there are other things going on.


6:29 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

TWO google ads on top

Danniweb had massive tags when they were hit. AND many Google ads.

See three blocks of Google ads?


6:36 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Re: blogcritics.org

In addition to having two Google ads above the fold, it may also be worth noting that they have TWO 300x250 banner ads on the page. Normally most sites only have one. They also have a LOT of Amazon affiliate stuff on the page, that's a little odd. Any chance that hurt them?

They also split their content for each article on to multiple pages, I know a lot of sites that weren't penalized do this, but by doing that even though they write long, in-depth stuff it reduces the volume of actual content/ad ratio on their pages.


6:40 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Using only background colors in divs for a website graphic design (above the fold or not) means that no one has invested much money in the design of the site, which seems to be a clear indicator of lower quality.

It would be easy to identify custom graphics, just identify which sites have graphic files with unique names.


6:40 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

>>Using only background colors in divs for a website graphic design (above the fold or not) means that no one has invested much money in the design of the site, which seems to be a clear indicator of lower quality.

Which sites in the list does this apply to? Let's be as specific as we can to avoid confusion.


6:42 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@fringe There is, let's start a separate thread for that and analyze them the same way.


6:43 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was referring to blogcritics.org, as having only background colors and no custom image files.


6:45 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@fringedgentian do you think that observation applies to any of the others on the list? I wonder if there's a pattern there.


6:45 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am going to test this trend of too many ads on a page. It does make sense that if there are too many ads on a page and not enough content to justify it, it could be a target for panda.


6:47 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@brinked Good idea. Go through the list above maybe and then list the ones here who fit that theory? If it's all of them or even a significant number of them, then maybe we have something. I definitely think if ads are an issue it's more about ad - content ratio on the page than anything.


6:48 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have sites with very dark backgrounds that won big on this change. I used a dark navy blue/black on some of them. On the subject at hand: Now I think blogcritics is very slow. Seemed really slow for me. Also, I counted 5 ad blocks above the fold on their article pages. I'm usually pretty lenient about sites and am not one to criticize. But this one stands out as something I would not visit again because of speed to load and has so much stuff above the fold. the content is pushed down. I am not surprised it was hit!


6:48 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

blogcritics.org/ -Dark background colors
www.reghardware.com/ -Dark background colors
www.pcadvisor.co.uk/ -Dark background colors
www.just-food.com/ -Dark background colors
www.cinemablend.com/ -Dark background colors
www.digitaltrends.com/ -Dark background colors
technorati.com/ -Dark background colors + ads above fold
www.daniweb.com/ -Dark background colors + thin pages
popcrunch.com/-ads above fold
www.computerweekly.com/Home/ -ads above fold

Google is asking machine to understand and implement user behavior patterns. Google algo is like Watson.

I studied human behavior, dark colors are often seen as a color of rebellion. Normally(age 30+) avoid dark background colors(Young prefer dark bg colors).

I may be wrong, but I still believe that background color is one of the important factors.


6:51 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@browsee Here's the only thing that makes me wonder if dark background color really is an important factor though.

There are many entertainment sites like blogcritics which also use dark background.

I just went through a list of some of the most popular entertainment sites like blogcritics or cinemablend that were not hit by Panda...

All of them have dark background. Actually I could only find one that did not. Apparently dark backgrounds are the norm among sites of that type. Actually Blogcritics and Cinemablend have lighter backgrounds than most.

Sites similar to Blogcritics.org which were not hit by Panda:

(Ted don't know if I'm allowed to list them if not please remove)


6:57 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

OK I quickly went down the list and looked at each site for if they seem to have any custom graphic design work done (just my guesses based on looking). I think this tends to disprove my theory, there are enough that seem to have had their site custom designed. But I guess quite a few with only a logo or less:

prnewswire.com ONE LOGO
blogcritics.org NO
cinemablend.com YES
digitaltrends.com ONE LOGO
technorati.com YES
daniweb.com ONE LOGO
popcrunch.com YES
techradar.com YES
reghardware.com ONE LOGO
pcadvisor.co.uk ONE LOGO
techwatch.co.uk ONE LOGO
just-food.com YES (I think)
computerweekly.com ONE LOGO


7:00 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am not saying that background is the only factor. I am saying that background is one of the important factors. There are 200+ signals in Google algo(old algo). Age of Site, Backlink ratio etc are the important signals in the Google algo. Like wise, thin pages, ads above the fold, bg colors are important factors in the new algo.

Sites you mentioned in your post cater to young audience right. Young people prefer dark colors. Probably algo is using it as one of signals.


7:06 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

The home page for blogcritics.org immediately confused my eye. Then trying to find good articles to read also confused me. When I finally went to an article page, there was a lot of cross-category (un-siloed) linking. I assume those links are there to drive PR and spidering through the site, because they certainly weren't helping this human being.

So I'm wondering if Google is running some kind of automated eye-tracker or heatmap simulation on pages.

I'm going to check through others on this "surprising losers list" to see how my own attention works. I'm in my 16th year of developing websites and I have a pretty good personal radar for good and bad eye tracking on pages.


7:19 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I feel you guys are barking up the wrong tree, I've gained about 33% in traffic and I have:

Dark background colors + ads above fold

My ads on all pages are:

1 x 728 banner
1 x 728 adlink

Some pages have:

1 off 336 x 280 at the end of each article or image page below the fold.

My hugely popular Coppermine galleries use a 728 banner at the top and the bottom of each page.


7:19 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've been thinking about heatmap simulation too. ehow placed ads in the hot area. They added related links in the warm area and bottom navigation in the cold area. I think they changed the design after Panda 1.0 release.


7:26 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@browsee does that heatmap idea apply to any of the sites listed above?


7:27 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Good point. My site also significantly gained (~20%) and has a LOT of advertising, although it isn't through Google. Some pages have as many as 15 graphic advertisements or more, though I would say 6 on average.

I believe there are so many different advertising and affiliate networks that Google can't really tell the difference between what is an isn't an advertiser.


7:30 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@fringedgentian Sounds like we should cross off the custom graphic theory for now. Thanks for breaking it down! It seems to confirm that wasn't a big factor.


7:32 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Shatner, I will send you personal email with heat map placement example endorsed by Google, AdBrite.com


7:33 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think ads plays a part in this panda update. I have a site that was hit the day panda was officially released and its a social network type site, and it has over 1.5 million members, the thing is all those member profile pages have ads on them (standard from the default template my mistake I know) so google pretty much sees the majority of the pages with no/little content on it and 3 banner ads. I had the ads removed from all user pages and submitted a reconsideration request.

If this is indeed a ad to content ratio type deal which I strongly believe does factor in (how much exactly we dont know) then google will be hurting themselves more than helping. People will start resorting to ways of hiding ads from googlebot and making sure only actual visitors see them then google will have no idea how many ads are on any given page. This of course will not work with adsense since they can effectively track the ad impressions on any given page


7:36 pm on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

"Ads above the fold" may be a slight red herring for a description. Better to say "minimal content above the fold." If the ad blocks still allow a couple solid sentences for the average visitor right when the page loads, that is a pretty standard use of visual space.

blogcritics.org bothered me because my eye was not immediately drawn to the content. I don't care whether the distractions are ads or navigation or artwork or social media buttons - they are still distractions.

[edited by: tedster at 7:54 pm (utc) on Apr 14, 2011]

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