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A comparison of a Pandalized site to a non-Pandalized



2:53 am on May 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I couldn't find another thread where this would be appropriate, so I thought I'd start a new one.

People have been questioning why some sites get Pandalized and others don't. I think an example of mine may provide some insights, although I'm not sure what they'll be.

There's a site I created for a small retail store back in 2001. At that time, using just Brett's steps to getting ranked on Google, it was possible to get on the first page in a matter of months or even weeks.

I got this site on the first page for several phrases, and the most desirable phrases got ranked #2 or #3, right behind the manufacturer.

In 2004 I started my own site, which was in the same niche, and which featured the same brands and models of widgets as the retail store. Since I was the writer, the content is similar. Not exact, but similar. It's also very thin.

The retail store's site has two versions of each page; one has no Flash (page_nameA.html), the other has enough to warrant having two separate pages (page_nameB.html). Both versions are no-indexed. The page_name.html page is all HTML, with no images, graphics or anything. It has the same text and links, but it serves as a redirect page, sending those with higher speed connections to the Flash version of the page_nameB.html page, and slower connections to the page_nameA.html page.

So, the site employs redirects for every page. It's never been penalized for the redirects. Maybe Google sees that they're for giving users Flash or no Flash, or maybe Google somehow just missed it. Maybe Google sees the page_name.html page as THE page, and pays strict attention to the noindex tags on page_nameA.html and page_nameB.html.

The retail store's site has held these #3 to #5 positions for nearly ten years, despite the fact that the site hasn't been touched at all in probably six or seven years. It has very, very few backlinks.

My own site was on page one for these same phrases, but I was never able to get my site to rank higher than the retail store's site.

When Panda came along, I got dropped to anywhere from #50 to #110 for these phrases. The retail store's site is still in the same place.

Here's the differences between the two sites:

1. The retail store's site is small; a few dozen pages if you count the three versions of each page as one page. My own site is over 3,000 pages.

2. The retail store's site has almost no backlinks (maybe even none). My site has about 15,000 or so, according to Yahoo. (Webmastertools says 200,000+, but that's impossible).

3. My site has advertising. The retail store's site does not, as it's advertising the store.

4. The retail store's site is clearly designed for the store. My site is a mix of information, ecommerce, and advertising for other retail stores in the same niche.

5. Both sites have similar content that is similarly thin. The widget pages use the same spec's from the manufacturer. Actually, I've done more work on writing original content for those widgets on my site than I did for the retail store's site.

6. I've used all of the usual ways to get backlinks for my site: articles, press releases, forum posts, blog posts, paid advertising, etc. I did none of the sort for the retail store's site. There was no promotion at all.

Tedster has said that he thinks Google is taking into account graphics, typography, etc. However, the page_name.html pages have no font tags or css styles. It's just plain, plain text. Google just sees text and links to the other pages on the site.

There's no good or bad backlink profile. There's no profile at all.

The retail store isn't just beating out my site, it's always beat some heavy hitters in my niche.

How's that for an example to ponder?


6:58 pm on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

the hammer hits the nails sticking up the highest

That idea puts me in mind of some comments from Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts about Panda 2.0 - that they were able to run the algo down into more of the "longer tail" pages. That inscrutable comment sticks with me, and makes more sense when coupled with this "nails that stick out" idea.


7:56 pm on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Tedster (and others): the notion of focus seems to make sense. In looking at who survived and who didn't, it makes even more sense.

I've been of the mindset to hold off on doing anything radical until things play out a bit more. We're coming up on three months now. Do you still think it's too soon to do something radical, such as spin a section of a site off into its own domain?


8:17 pm on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Devil's Advocate: If the sections you intend to spin off are the problem, then won't their new domain also be a problem?

At any rate, I would take that kind of action only if it makes sense for non-Google (and especially, non-Panda) reasons. If the site naturally splits into several separate pieces, then a separate site is worth considering.


8:25 pm on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Inverse corollary, one bad apple spoils the barrel... if moving off (splitting) sections improves the main site...


8:38 pm on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Tedster, I'm thinking about focus. I have, as I've said, three sections of my site: the retail store advertising, the widget information, and the small ecommerce store. I think the ecommerce store may be confusing Google as to the focus of the site. I've thought this for a long time (last year).

That's the one that I would think would be best to spin off. There's nothing wrong with it. It's been very good for me, and it ranked very well on Google, and still does on the other SE's. It was one of the hardest hit by Panda, though, and it not fitting with the focus of the site is the only reason I can fathom for the type of punishment it got.

Perhaps with that moved to another site, Google would see the relationship between the information about widgets and the ads for stores that sell the widgets (and mention the widgets in their ads).

I don't know if it's too soon to make a radical change like that or not. I'd have to do everything possible to retain the backlinks I've gotten for the ecommerce section. One thing I don't know is if moving that section to a new domain would remove the seniority ranking benefit that established sites have had in the past.


10:52 pm on May 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

You mention that the retail store site is "page_name.html - page is all HTML, with no images, graphics or anything", which then redirects to no-indexed versions that have graphics and flash.

What's your site like from a technical point of view? Are you employing the same technical strategy as the retail store or doing something different?


3:01 am on May 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

AlyssaS, I don't use any redirect pages or cloaked pages or anything like that. When I built the site for the retail store, redirect pages were just being discounted or punished. I figured (maybe naively at the time) that it was okay, since the pages were being redirected for Flash or no Flash, and the pages being redirected to were no-indexed. I don't know if that would stand up to scrutiny today.

Everything on my site is very straightforward, from navigation to layout. Nothing that should raise an eyebrow.


3:30 am on May 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

dickbaker, how about the platforms used? From what you say, it does look like the retail store is an HTML site.How about yours? Do you use any ready made software like wordpress or is it custom built?


4:44 am on May 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

No ready-made platforms. The site's graphics and layout are custom designed, and I coded the pages. I use four different templates I created for different types of pages (ecommerce, informational, retail store ads, etc).
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