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Google Updates and SERP Changes - Oct 2011



10:26 pm on Sep 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

I just found this little nugget whilst search for something completely unrelated.

#2 Post from Google employee.


That's pretty clear admission they are hitting sites they don't mean to imo.

[edited by: tedster at 10:42 pm (utc) on Oct 2, 2011]


1:45 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Matt Cutts confirmed this was Panda in a recent Tweet.

hmmm.. I understand. But the ranking drops of the content site I was talking about do not look like panda. Overall, it dropped 30% in traffic but still retained #1 rankings for many lucrative keywords. the traffic drop comes mostly from loosing rankings for some other lucrative keywords from top to the bottom of the first page, nothing like going into oblivion. And it still outranks all the scrapers. Is there any version of Panda that looks like that?

The other mid-size ecommerce site that dropped 80% after going down for all its major keywords, from #1-2 to #9-10 - same story. Panda? I thought Panda is different, what is Panda for ecommerce sites anyway? This is the 1st ecommerce site hit by any penalty out of many I am monitoring, among them 4-5 pull substantial traffic.

Also, the store that was hit was the only one running adsense, can it be the problem? Overall, running adsense on ecommerce sites, and directing traffic to your competitors is very unnatural. It almost never makes sense. We ran it for this specific site as an experiment. Any other observations here from e-commerce site owners who run adsense as well?


2:38 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Any sites hit by this update that are not review sites or sites that not promote some sort of service please post. Is it possible this to be something like a short live test because it is really stupid in any way. It almost feels like something is going on inside Google and some people are intentionally adding weird code to the algo with the purpose of ruining it. I understand money season is coming but in a long term its really counter-productive for Google.

With the 9+ billion 1/4 revenue announced this week, it feels like the cow has eaten all the grass and page estate is squizzed to the max . It's like Google is about to wrap it up and focus all efforts on a new venture in the following years.

Larry is a successfully ruining it so far for everyone including Google. If he signs every new employee enrolment wouldn't you think he knows about every update and twik released?

Take your popcorn and enjoy the show it's just a matter of weeks/months before info gets leaked from inside Google. I did predict a huge serp shuffle soon in less than a month ago and this is no panda by any means right now(if you believe that tool Cutts you are a fool).


2:41 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

HuskyPup, what other elements do you have on your homepage/site in addition to Adsense?

Adsense ad units appear to be fine with Panda across all the sites which I manage. However, combine that with an Aweber subscription form (one of my sites gives stuff away to registered subscribers) and an Amazon Associate link equates to an overnight drop from #2 to #13 for its primary keyword. The total number of words on this particular site's homepage is 774.

Another site I manage, which is in the automotive e-commerce niche, sits at #4 for its primary product. This product page has over 500 links pointing to the page whereas those above the listing have 1 to 5 backlinks. The top listing has a single backlink from ebay.co.uk, which is a non-editorial link from their eBay store in the UK. Keep in mind that unlike the others above this listing, ours has a full schematic and application data specifically so that consumers may determine if the product is right for them without having to pick up the phone and call. If content were king, we would rule. Instead, preference is given to non-editorial links and brand/domain authority. Pre-Panda this page ranked better and received more sales. But ironically, those listed above this product are all major spenders on Google Adwords.

Newer sites under my management appear to be more susceptible to each Panda tweak. Domain age, despite the number and quality of backlinks, appears to be a major consideration for Panda.

What Panda appears to be is a funnel designed to drive traffic to those websites which Google has an interest in. Especially in a depressed economy, Google's growth has been substantial. This does not happen in an *equal* playing field. Come to your own conclusions after reviewing the winners and losers with each Panda update.


2:46 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

The other mid-size ecommerce site that dropped 80% after going down for all its major keywords, from #1-2 to #9-10 - same story. Panda? I thought Panda is different, what is Panda for ecommerce sites anyway? This is the 1st ecommerce site hit by any penalty out of many I am monitoring, among them 4-5 pull substantial traffic.
That's the dirty secret that Google and their lapdogs / fanboys try not to talk about. Panda is all about the big, bad, content farms, and to try to make the SERPs better (so google can fill them with 4-5 ads on top and dozens of Google junk links to their own) :)

Google wants you to become a brand or no traffic for you.
How do you become a brand in e-commerce?

Looking at google's own forums this has caused quite a major storm. The bad news is that this will probably stay like this for the holidays, unless they sneak another 'quality enhancement' for the 4th quarter.


3:01 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It makes no sense to me (I've been a member of WebmasterWorld for 6 years so I don't know why it says "new user...I rarely post, mostly read every day...but today, I am compelled to post..)

My previously non-pandlized site:

- Going on 7 years old
- hundreds of organic, one-way links from .EDU's and .GOV sites - because of my excellent content (something I have been told time and time again from my users, and experts in the field)
- not to mention the thousands of other organic inbound links
- Site has steadily gained traffic the past few months from an already very healthy level, I assumed in response to my adding fresh, unique, original content to my pages (and to existing pages), new articles, and videos
- I don't link out to anyone unless it is a hugely authoritative site, and if they deserve it because of their content
- I don't by/sell links, or participate in link exchanges
- I produce all of my own articles, interviews and tutorials
- I produce original videos
- I have made sure there is plenty of content above the fold,
- Site is about 800 pages - never a too aggressive growth
- Adsense - I have actually been removing many adsense blocks this entire year - and was very conservative about it in the first place -
- I have a directory on my site (aside from my content and articles) where other businesses in my niche can add their information , but I am very choosy about who/what I include, and make sure their information is helpful to my users. I nofollow their websites if they include those. On these pages, I also include original content of my own, linking to my videos and articles.
- I follow google's webmaster guidelines with extreme seriousness, and I follow adsense policy to the letter.

How is it that google, with a "Minor" algo change as happened yesterday basically say that a site is not useful or good, when it's users, and links from many top government and educational sites like the National Institutes of Health, Housing and Urban Development, and many many others have linked to my site based on the usefulness of the content, and the directory that I provide.

My main keyword terms have hung in there from what I can see, but it just simply appears as if many of my pages have simply disappeared. Every single page on my site has valuable and excellent content.

Other, newer websites in my niche still rank well for extremely thin pages, and unoriginal content, so this is indeed very confusing to me..

I hope this helps others out there who truly have built a site because of passion, and an interest in educating others (and themselves), helping others, and the enjoyment of building something that you are extremely proud of...who are seeing the same, upsetting thing as of the 14th.

This isn't right on so many levels. I hope that this is just flux...or a misguided test.

I hope my post helps others in the same boat...


3:11 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Oh, and my site is a pr6....one detail I omitted above...


3:12 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

My main keyword terms have hung in there

This report - and a few other posts around the forum - make me wonder if we had Panda late on Oct 13 and then another algo change on the 14th. Even when Panda lets a site rank for certain major keywords, the main effect I've seen hits big search terms. Some pages/keywords may be exempt (or even boosted) but Panda does not usually show as just a long-tail impact.


3:26 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

besnette, Panda was originally designed to address content farms/scrapers. Assuming your site does not fall into these categories, one can deduce that Panda is being morphed into a more aggressive beast for possible integration into Google's primary algorithm.

Of the sites I manage, those that have benefited the most are those that are well branded. Impacting the ranks of such sites would have a negative impact on Google Search users, and I think Google is wise to this which is why they have manually *whitelisted* some Pandalized sites in the past. One thing the successful sites I manage have in common is that their most searched for keyword in Google are their lawfully registered business names and not the products/services they sell.

Panda supposedly gives greater weight to user actions. However, I am left believing that the only user action Google truly ranks well in the end are those actions that result in money flowing to Google, a Google Adwords advertised website or those websites which spend millions with Google annually. In the end the only metric that matters to Google is how much money can be stuffed into their cash register. After all, they are a publicly traded business. They answer to shareholders and not to the public at large.


3:39 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Turbocharged - thanks for your reply - I am suspect that any legitimate .com will be able to survive in this environment. I mean, if google can bump off a strong site, and then display their own ads/7packs and collect 100%- why would they even need other sites...

I would think that a 6, going on 7 year old site would give them some pause before they scrap it - I have also worked hard on branding my site this year.

I really have done everything I can possibly think of to play well within the rules, google's, karma's (for lack of a better term), ethically, and in the interest of my users..

I guess hope for the best....

thanks again for your helpful words...


3:41 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Something went definitely down the 14th. As usual when this happens I get more traffic from Bing and Yahoo and it goes minutes between visits from Google. This started happening in April and it had never happened before that. For a week or so I actually got a bit more visitors per day and thought, in my ignorance, that it is going to better now, and then BAM! you get hit again. If it wasn't for one special word I am using, there would be NO traffic at all from Google. I can see that people (Google?) are searching for my domain name (brand?) so maybe it has something to do with that. maybe SEO now is all about branding your sites? What if we all branded our sites, would people really need Google in the future then? Google would be/will be just another advertiser like the ones you get in the mail and nobody will go there because people know what to type in to get to the web site, just like ebay today. I don't think anybody goes to Google to search for eBay, right?


3:51 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a 9-year-old content site that has enjoyed very stable traffic over the past four years, with slow and steady increases. The site has been virtually unchanged since its inception.

On Friday, my traffic dropped by two-thirds, so I came here to see what was what. (It's been years since I whipped myself into a google frenzy - it was bad for my health ;) )

This site was originally designed with the long tail in mind - even back in the day I felt I couldn't compete against the big guns.

So my paying pages are titled along the lines of "john doe widget inventor" versus "john doe".

I researched my top three pages this morning, along with a variety of other performing pages.

All google did was drop me from positions 1 - 3 down to positions 4 - 7 (the blind spot).

The authority sites came in first, with wiki on top across the board. On my number one pay phrase, I dropped from 1 (where I've been for years) to 6. Only one of the pages ahead of me was a made for adsense site, the rest were worthy. (In this instance, it was the imdb, wiki, and two pages from the person's own site.)

Being in the blind spot has cost me two-thirds of my traffic and ruined my holidays, if it holds. Just goes to show the analysts are right that it's better to be at the top or bottom than in the middle of the page.


4:03 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Interesting (?) thing I saw in Google was that if I searched for my domain/brand I do show up first in the SERP's but the funny thing is that the link text is my domain name and it's NOT in the tags so why are they showing it like that?


4:05 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

All google did was drop me from positions 1 - 3 down to positions 4 - 7 (the blind spot).

ok, this is similar to what I see. Down from #1-2 to #9-10. This is not Panda


4:13 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Panda was originally designed to address content farms/scrapers

Google never said that....It was the popular SEO and social marketing community who spread that theory...

There are several examples for content farms
1) that survived the initial iteration but were trapped in subsequent iterations
2) that recovered in subsequent iterations
3) that were never hit by any iteration (squidoo, youtube etc.)

There are also several examples of Mashups (scrapers) which were never hit...

There are also examples for forums which aggregate content from blogs and other sites through its "so called users" that were never hit.


4:25 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I don't think anybody goes to Google to search for eBay
funny you should say that - just been looking a particular item, not that specialised -get ebay, blogs, videos, more ebay, and ebay mashups. Only one of the two major brands.

Go onto Bing, both brands plus, at #1 a specialist ecommerce retailer, which had exactly what I was looking for.



4:26 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

One of my quality sites got hit on long-tails, something weird because my main keywords are fine but long-tails are nowhere to be found in the serps. Half my traffic dopped and I was never affected by the other Pandas. Not sure what the hell is going on. Someone else mentioned that, they could be boosting up crap sites to the top for a couple of days to test how users react to crap sites. Maybe keeping the big boys, wallmart, ebay, best buy brands on a do not disturb list so there isn't much outcry. Not sure what's going on but Google is pissing off a lot of webmasters but I guess they could care less because their profits are going through the roof.


4:26 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's interesting you brought up squidoo - I was seeing a lot more squidoo this morning than in the past - sometimes up to two or three page one listings for shopping terms (to be specific, I was looking at calendars; eg, fairy calendars 2012, art calendars, etc.)

I've never gotten much out of my squidoo, and I felt google never much liked them. What really struck me, though, was the fact they were there for ecommerce terms. Kinda supports the theory that google likes to emphasize shopping in fourth quarter.

Also, some of my own listings were now appended with a small list of specific items, as an indication to searchers that I had content along with products. For example, one of my biography pages includes a filmography, and google included a three line listing of specific movies in addition to the text blurb under my link. I actually really liked that.


4:47 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)


I am in the same boat. My long-tail keywords (more than 3000 a month) has disappeared while my main keywords related to my sites are intact.

This 'minor tweak' has hit many websites that ranked for long-tail keywords, which is the biggest generator of traffic.


4:59 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

HuskyPup, what other elements do you have on your homepage/site in addition to Adsense?

Nothing apart from our own info and images. I am the Coca Cola manufacturing brand in my industry and only sell B2B, we display ads so that retailers can advertise on our sites since many retail purchasers find us through the regular and image SERPs.

It's very rare we have enquiries for project work through the Net since most specifiers worldwide already know us and simply use our sites for client proposed sample referencing purposes.


4:59 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)


The original purpose of Panda is to devalue low quality content and rank high quality content according to Google. Scraping/copying content is indeed a component of this as seen at [googleblog.blogspot.com...]

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.

Despite Panda's flaws, and apparent deviation from its original purpose, from everything I have read on the topic Panda's purpose has not changed.


I understand your frustrations, and I too share in them. It seems Google's actions are making it a very unpredictable and hostile environment for smaller enterprises. Fortunately, my in-law's website appears to have been one of the few lucky ones that has not lost its ranks. For a 40+ year old service business, struggling in this economy, even one or two lost sales may be all that it takes to push them into insolvency. While they do not get many "leads" from their website, such a loss in ranks would be very harmful for them at the present time.


5:08 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

1) They never called it as an algo against "content farms"
2) They did say it is an algo against "sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful". But several owners of sites hit by the first iteration claimed scrapers ranked above them.

I think one should also read it as "sites that copy content from other websites and that are just not very useful".


5:35 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

people can bash or praise Google all day, but at the end of the day Google are a business and they will not make a business decission without thinking at least what they are doing will make more money for them.

Not sure how this works though as most brands advertise on Google, but if it is only there brands that fill the natural results the is no need for them to advertise.

Perhaps I am missing something, so feel free to educate me.


6:00 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

@ Donna, my site, I work as an IT consultant, all my site is about is how to resolve various IT issues,I sell nothing the content comes from my day to day work.


6:16 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My own story:

My content site, seven years old, just lost 90% of its traffic between Oct 14 and Oct 15.

I put Adsense on the site right before I started at a PhD program. Over the last five years I have put maybe ten hours of work into the site per year (yes, you read that correctly). During that time, it has paid my rent and all my monthly expenses. I can't really complain, for years I knew this day would come eventually. I just hoped it would come in a few months (I graduate in January-February).

Anyway, good luck all.


6:26 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My sincerest apologies and heart-felt condolences for those that were negatively affected by the most recent rendition of Panda. I can remember my first weekend after Panda annihilated my site of 6 years... a site that I had put my blood/sweat and tears into. At the time Panda hit my first child was less than a month old and it seemed as if my world was falling apart.

The point of this post is to hopefully help others with similar experiences... I've got to feel like the experience wasn't/isn't as futile as it has sometimes felt and if I can help others it is worth at least some respite.

First the site:

1. Old site
2. All unique content
3. ecom site
4. In the original list of top 300 sites affected by Panda

Panda 1 hit, Feb 24th.

1. Lost 50 - 75% of our traffic in one day.

My Reaction:

1. Lets wait this out. (it may be a mistake/fluctuation)30 days.
2. Hid our least "helpful" pages
3. Redesign the product pages (to be more like other sites... we had a unique design that was more user friendly)
4. Start revamping product page content
5. Speed up the load time
6. Lower the bounce rate
7. Improve navigation

The Result:

Absolutely nothing. Our traffic has only marginally improved over the last 6 - 8 months. Thousands of dollars dumped into content creation and development. Our ROI is in the negative, we can't shake the Panda.

My advice

Get yourself positioned to be able to operate at the "new" levels of traffic. Don't expect a "miraculous" recovery like daniweb or cult of mac. I believe that for the most part these guys are a far cry from the norm.

Welcome to the Wild West

Guys and Gals I think that the Panda is a very good example of how we are in the "wild west" of the internet/online era. I do not foresee companies/organizations like Google being able to strip away rankings as drastically as they have for some of us in the future. For that matter I don't see them being able to "promote" sites as quickly and "easily" as they have in the past either. They are responsible for their rankings... and by building businesses up with traffic and then stripping that traffic away is irresponsible and will soon be more controlled (for better or for worse... who knows)

Historically organizations that have had power to build up and destroy businesses without much legal recourse (think Mafia in the US through the early 20th century,) have led to greater regulation... and public disgrace and legal action. Google is on the same track. Hollywood movies like to portray the Mafia as an evil organization that people feared and respected out of fear for their lives. The truth being that Mafia incorporation into society was more complicated than "just a bunch of thugs." Many businesses flourished under Mafia protection. The Mafia offered some semblance of rule in an otherwise unruly society... Google offers some semblance of rule in an otherwise unruly web-sphere. We need Google to protect us from the spam and black hat-word-stuffing-link-building creatures of the dark.

Or do we? When the sentiment changes, so will the darling of the internet.

Brin = Michael
Page = Sonny
Cutts = Hagen "The Conciliary"

In conclusion:

As you are berated on this forum and others for being "an idiot" for relying too heavily on Google for your business and well being... Realize that we are in the "wild west" of the web... and while they may have better online business acumen, there truly was no way of knowing that Google would turn so ugly... so fast.

Hopefully your business is able to withstand the Panda! Keep at it! Build a-new for your users! And finally hit the treadmill, get back into shape... call a friend or two for a beer... and most importantly enjoy your family!


6:41 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

indyank, in our industry we do call those that copy content from other sites "content scrapers" which quite often operate "content farms."

Regardless of how I grouped these people and their sites, Matt Cutts has discussed content scrapers in this 1/28/2011 post [mattcutts.com...]

The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.

Furthermore, Google has publicly stated their shift towards addressing "content farms" in a post just a week prior (1/21/2011) to the details Matt provided above here [googleblog.blogspot.com...]

As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content.

indyank, instead of taking a post from Cutts or Google's blog for face value, it must be deciphered and analyzed in context with their current public actions. By doing so, it is quite clear that "content farms" and "scrapers" are indeed a primary target of Panda as noted by the blog posts from Google that preceded Panda's release.


6:42 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Well I should post too...My main 14yo site got hit for it's main 2 keyword phrase. Has always been number 1 or 2 besides a little bouncing over the years is now nowhere for the main phrase. Google traffic has been down about 50% since the 13th of this month. Ouch!


6:53 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

and most importantly enjoy your family!
Briliant post Lenny2, I think my family have taken a back seat for much of my online life, I am enjoying a coffee at the moment, but can taste the Beer in the fridge, so I will take your advice and sign myself offline and spend it with my family for at least a few hours.;)


6:54 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Most of my positions have dropped from top of page 1 to top of page 2.


7:47 pm on Oct 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm still enjoying the lovely view of page 5 thanks to Google's brilliant algorithm which thought my new domain received too many links at once, so I wasn't heavily affected by the recent change.

However, I saw an increase in Google traffic (a huge 57% increase - from 7 hits to 11).

The funniest part is in GWT, which shows me 3,667(!) links from an .edu site I've been commenting on recently. I have about 10 links there, but thanks to WP's link structure, Google somehow managed to find thousands of links from there. Needless to say, they show about 20 of them.

Maybe now, with such an influx of .edu links (they ignored all other .edu and .gov links for now) I'll move back to my original ranking.

Lenny2 - brilliant post! Right now I'm getting used to my new traffic level, and I think my writers understand the situation. Luckily I have enough reserves from the good times to keep the site running. Anyway, I'm not going to run on negative ROI under any circumstance.

Good luck everyone. Google may be an important factor of our income, but it's not the only one. A company can't earn billions while it ignores its customers (that's us - make no mistake). Sooner or later they'll fall or have serious competition. Then I want to see them torturing webmasters with truely great websites.

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