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Recovered from Panda - and how I did it

6:42 am on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Alright so one of my sites just recovered from panda. Its a site I bought a few months ago and have mostly neglected but it earned a decent income (all adsense). Site had 3 adsense ads on every page, I removed them all, since the panda update it was only making about $5 a day anyway.

Site has about 80 pages, all with unique content, its an old site, really should have never been hit IMO. Here is what I did:

- removed all adsense ads from every page

- Updated the homepage text a little bit, added some and tweaked some old text.

- removed duplicate meta descriptions (there were 6 pages that had identical meta descriptions)

That is all. I am encouraged that it only took about a week for the panda to gets its paws off. I wish my other site was recovered but its much bigger and many more pages. I am not sure if it was one thing or a series of things...to be more clear, there was one adsense ad at the top posing as a top navigation and then two of the smaller banners 1 above content and one below it.
5:12 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

My site has just recovered about 50% of it's Google traffic. I had just one Adsense ads on every page, no other ads, before Panda. I bought a new WP theme that I saw on another site that was not Pandalized. It has three slots all above the fold. So now I have three times as many ads as I did before and have been partially out of Panda for 3-4 days.

In my case the penalty had nothing to do with Adsense. I did try removing it for a week with no result. I think it is also possible the Panda penalty might last 60 days then your site is re-evaluated.
5:16 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

>>>So google changes its heatmap graph after panda without making any noise.They first destroyed sites without informing them and then do this.

This. Shouldn't they have done this BEFORE penalizing people for following their instructions?

Not that it's going to help everyone.

I've done everything outlined here, including removing Adsense, and have seen no recovery.

Sounds like everyone who has recovered has a much smaller site while mine is 100,000 plus pages.
5:18 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Adsense says that ads should not push the content below the fold. So basically, when you view a webpage, you should see some content and not just a ad above the fold.

I think some of you guys are taking this out of perspective. I run three ads on some of my pages with a large ad block at the top of every page on all my websites in basically the same layout (Per adsense consultant, recently). Only one of my websites was hit by Panda, along with one gaining and one staying neutral.

I cant believe that Google would punish their own earnings and I also believe that ads only may affect the rankings if there is very little content on those pages.
5:22 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is my favorite in the new guidelines:

>>Less can be more: While our policies allow you to place 3 ad units, 3 link units, and 2 search boxes on each page of your site, placing the maximum number of ads on your page may make it look cluttered.

I literally just got a message last week from Adsense asking me why I wasn't using the maximum number of ads and really strongly insisting that I start doing so.

Well guess what, now I'm not using any of your ads, Adsense. Thanks.
5:30 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I own a good number of sites running AdSense, many if not most of which have one ad above the fold. Not one Pandalized; some gained. So yea, I've done the math.

All but one site of mine gained traffic. Some are thin in content but not overloaded with adsense. The fact that haven't been hit doesn't mean I'm a great webmaster or anything though, Google can very easily launch Panda on them.
5:48 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Heres a fact that did work to about a 50 page section of my website and regained (plus more) all of it lost Panda traffic for that particular section:

I had a 50 page section that was low with content/with ads (about 2 paragraphs each). This section was linked off of one page that was 2 links down from the homepage. I rewrote or added more content (increased to about 4 paragraphs) that I felt was acceptable to Panda.

Now Im back in the serps at #2 spots, after moving to the second page per Panda in Feb., for most if not all of the lost keywords in that section and this section has not been completely reindexed yet (only about half).

There is no quick fix for Panda, Your gonna have to go through each page at a time, no matter how long its going to take.
5:58 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

how good is google at reading CSS layout?

Maybe you can get a hint as to the answer to this question by looking at your page previews in the SERPs. Mine are rendering both CSS and JS perfectly.
6:13 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I cant believe that Google would punish their own earnings

This correlation with adsense, if it exists, is almost certainly a secondary effect, probably not intended by the search algo team.

It's not like the Panda algo has a line that says "if adsense above the fold then decrease ranking." It can't possibly be that simple. Panda is trying to measure user perception of quality. User perception of quality may be influenced by many factors, and those factors need not be explicitly included in the algo. It just so happens that one of those factors, fairly obviously, would be overuse of adsense. If you're using adsense in a way that causes users to perceive your site as being lower quality, then maybe the adsense is causing the site to be pandalized. If, on the other hand, your users perceive your site as being high quality despite your use of adsense, you probably wouldn't be pandalized.

This would account for both the correlation and the known counterexamples, and also why Google appears to be working at cross purposes to itself.
7:55 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

google is not pandalizing every site that runs adsense. DO not be misguided. I think this is more of an ad issue than adsense.

Its how many ads you are showing on any given page and the positioning of the ads. This is likely a secondary factor but too many ads in the wrong places can push you very far perhaps.

Be careful where you have ads placed as well. You shouldnt have ads running on your contact pages, about us page and any other pages that have little content value.

I think this is more of a "how hard is it to read the content" issue. If your ads take up more space on a given page than your actual content, that could very well be a warning sign.

To those asking what sizes, I was running 1 728x15 at the top and 2 468x60 banner ads one above content and one below it.
8:02 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Apologies for cross posting, but since there's a disussion going on about ads in this thread, it actually fit better here:

People keep posting that google cant afford to hurt their adsense earnings. This is rubbish.

What they cannot do is take short term gains by sacrificing the quality of their core product. If their core product is devalued, no one will use it. To that end, the SEARCH team must provide quality results. If that means hurting publishers in the short term, so be it. Indeed, it will increase earnings over the long term, as publishers become more savvy at retaining eyeballs long enough for someone to click an ad.

Cross messaging occurs when one team is incentivised at the expense of the company. So, adsense team is paid on earnings. To them, more ads means more earnings, so they push the message. This is actually detrimental to Google as a whole as results quality drops, and people use alternative SEs.

Happens all the time. Sales guys chase the quick buck, and eventually get pulled back by the more strategic thinkers who are trying to build/maintain a Brand
8:20 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


Do you monitor your WMT data (if you use WMT)? If so, did you notice an improvement on average positions for internal pages before the full rebound?
8:25 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Thanks for all the tips Brinked. Makes sense that G can re-process a small site much faster than a large site. Let's hope we continue to hear success stories.
8:59 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

crobb, I do monitor WMT but I do not obsess over it. Theres too many rankings to monitor, especially through there. But the effect was instant. The site lost around 50-60% of traffic due to panda and it is now fully recovered, the traffic is on par for what it was receiving before panda 2.

This site was hit by panda 2 not panda 1. The site is very simple so that really made it easy to correct as there was not as many variables going on unlike most my other sites.

I recently heard from someone that adsense just updates there "best practices" page that instructs how to best use and place adsense ads. If they did, this would be a very strong indicator that ads are indeed a factor.
9:16 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

brinked, since you were only affected by Panda2, I am thinking you were probably close to the edge of tripping the filter. So when you pulled the ads and tweaked a couple of content things, you were back in business.

same thing prolly won't work for somebody who lost 90% in panda1.
9:29 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


I completely agree. Like I said, this site is VERY high quality, has been around for over 8 years and has only natural links from very very authority sources. I got it at a steal of a price. Its a PR5 homepage and has many PR6 inner pages.

The site is very basic so theres only so much that can be wrong with it as most pages are the same so applying changes sitewide are easy enough. TBH, this site really should have never been hit to begin with, and maybe google made a small tweak to panda, as you can be sure they will constantly be doing especially with all this wonderful feedback after a few short weeks.

Also, my 2 other sites that were hit by panda both dropped a few more places this morning (around 1-2 am EST) for there main keywords. Could mean nothing, but the sites that climbed up were on page 3, now they are page 2. So at least someone is moving up
10:37 pm on Apr 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

hey guys, need your thoughts, i have a network of blogs and a shop that have adsense, they were all hit same time, traffic dropped 90% and when you do a search for 'domain' or any other keyword we were ranking for we come up now at pages 5, 6, 7.

But doing a search for "domain.com" the site comes up first, PR is same, indexed pages did not change either...I am almost sure its adsense that caused this, did anyone of you see the same penalty?
12:53 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Example 3 here [google.com...] has to be the issue with my sites, I have ads between the title and content.

I have always known this provided a poor user experience but my Adsense rep liked them so I left them there.

Going to push my content up top and keep ads minimal below the fold, and keep my fingers crossed. One site that was hit I pulled all ads off, will see what happens :)

I don't think it all about the ads, but ad placement in there face = poor user experience = panda slap.

There is a site that has been steady through Panda in a high end niche, he has crap keyword stuff content his Adsense block is in the same place as mine BUT he has a couple of sentences above the Adsense block and I have none.
3:06 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

So much conjecture...

I had just one ad above the fold (300x250 right sidebar). Site still got completely pummeled at Panda 1. Size of content on each page is absolute minimum 300 words. On some pages I have a second at ad unit at the foot of the article...

I'm not convinced ads are necessarily a part of this.
3:14 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Ad problems may not be "necessary" to be demoted by Panda, but they certainly do seem to be "sufficient" in some cases. It is a complex algorithm, not a simple one.
3:15 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

synthese, ads are a part of this. There are literally hundreds of factors, why cant ads be one of them? Ads are on most websites, if I was google, I would certainly make them a factor.

If ads are not a factor, why did google just now revise there adsense best practices? There new best practice page (link posted by kd454) goes against what adsense has been preaching all these years.

I can not stress enough to people that there is no 1 or 2 or even 3 factors that went into panda. It is not the ads alone that will get you pandalized, its the overall picture.

Lets look at it this way. You work for a search engine. Your job is to devalue low quality websites/pages. Your first assignment is a 200 page website. All 200 pages have unique content but no more than 2 sentences on each page. Each page also has 8 ads, making it difficult to even see the little content thats there. Now you need to do your job, are these ads causing this site to be a low quality website or taking away from the users experience?

You can argue that ads play a very small to medium role as they likely do, but dont say ads dont play a role when it comes to ranking.
4:29 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@brinked Good argument, you've persuaded me that ads are a part -- but not the whole. So simply changing (or removing) your ad layout may do nothing if the other factors are still present.

I guess I made the mistake of believing my adsense rep who assured me that after talking to the "engineers" that ads didn't play a part.
4:54 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

How about using common sense as responsible webmasters and not push ads aggressively in the faces of visitors, even if rep X, rep Y and rep Z suggested it? One rep once contacted me and suggested bigger ads in more prominent positions, I told him I wasn't comfortable doing that, even if it makes more money, out of respect for my visitors and he responded that he appreciated that type of attitude and left it at that. When I read people complain that they were only doing what they were told, I think "Why is it so hard to think for yourself?". Do you like aggressive ads when you surf other sites? Do you bookmark those type of sites? Well, there you go.

I still got pandalised though, but that's another story.
6:41 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This tells me adsense has little or nothing to do with the Panda update problems people have complained about unless it's how some people integrated adsense ads into their pages.

I have 3 websites with the same layout (same design, same adsense placements, same niche, different articles). One site got hit by Panda and the other 2 didn't. This makes me think that adsense is not (or a very small) factor of Panda.
10:13 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Read the new guidelines, and then check out the One Click optimizer above. It has some fun stuff.

Blog site content pages do not have link units anymore.
News site has ad block on the top left right below title. Also ad link unit below title.

So say you are running a news site using Wordpress. Google might decide you are a blog, despite the design of your site. Kaboom.

In my case, this explanation fits to a T. I have what most people would call unique content written by trained journalists and editors. However, we run Wordpress with a news site design. And Adsense reps have told us to use ad blocks everywhere. I have found my own ideal positions over time. But now, Google may consider us a blog, not a news site. And therefore, not worthy of running more ads.

The new guidelines are the exact opposite of what I have accomplished over the years (something that got me once featured on adsense blog).

The obvious thing is to sit around and wait for some more clarity, of course.
11:04 am on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It is pretty obvious in the wizard that news sites are allowed much more ad space exposure. Perhaps they just have not updated that one yet.

Like wandering mind said, I would not go down that path just yet if you are a news site that was hit. Or if you are not sure you are classified as a news site by G.
12:18 pm on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Any image-rich and text-poor sites survive Panda?
12:28 pm on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

1:12 pm on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

So much for any sort of 'recovery': overnight Google delivered the same exact people as Bing to me. Looks like this is at least a three month penalty.

Go Google, more pain!
1:53 pm on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here's a question about ads. My advertiser writes their ad code in javascript. When I look at the page preview in Google organic results, the ads don't show. Does Google know these are ads?

As for other points made here, I'm looking at the pages that were hit the worst, and addressing their problems. Almost without exception, they're thin pages. I'm not getting rid of them, though, because they still rank well in Bing and Yahoo. If I were to start over with a new site, as some here have suggested to others, I'd be starting from square one with all the SE's.
4:59 pm on Apr 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

A sign of hope here: I'm appearing for 3 phrases on the 1st page, on positions where I had been usually ranked for that sort of things before Panda rollout.

These keywords are from articles published 7-10 days ago, scraped by at least 5 spam sites minutes after publishing. Until today, I was very very deep somewhere in SERPs for these keywords, while the scrapers were on the 1st page. Now, scrapers are nowhere to be found (except when I search for the whole article title, in that case they're still on the top).

I haven't done any changes to the articles.

What I did?
- Filled spam reports regarding scrapers (but they're still on high positions for other terms)
- Two out of three articles on the 1st page are newer, published after removing 2 ads from the template. The remaining one was published before template change with +2 ads, removed ~5 days ago.
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