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Low Quality Traffic After The October 14 Panda Tweak?



6:20 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I work on a website that lost a little over half of it's traffic with the April 11 Panda update.

Nothing changed until the Panda 2.5 update, when bounce rate dropped back down to Pre-Panda levels and we recovered some traffic. After a day or two it dissipated and we were back to the post-panda baseline.

October 13 we saw a massive recovery in traffic - back to, if not higher than Pre-Panda levels and it's holding.

However, the traffic is different. Our bounce rate is almost double what is was Pre-Panda and our time on site, and all engagement stats have decreased.

Is anyone else experiencing anything like this? A return of traffic, but clearly low-quality? I don't want to assume it's low-converting, because it's too early to tell, but something is definitely off and I take the approach that we have to work with what we've got (for better or worse) and I try to focus on the user above all, but I am a little befuddled with what's going on.

Any insight would be great.


8:05 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

You are not the first person who has noted this type of phenomenon after they regain traffic. I've seen these concerns both here in this forum in other threads as well as in the G forum. In general, I find that traffic is not as well targeted as it used to be, for my sites (both pandalized and not pandalized).

This, combined with the general poorer organic results from Google, just shows where this search engine is headed. I am gradually warming up to those conspiracy theorists who say that G is doing this on purpose in order to make their own offerings look superior in comparison (their higher revenue can be proof of this). I am beginning to think this way (even as I used to give them the benefit of the doubt) only because I couldn't believe they would seriously put forth an algo that is this undeveloped and traumatizing to small business.


8:21 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I definitely think Google is doing some of these changes on purpose. I truly believe they don't want SEO's to be able to do what they do. I mean, look at what they're doing with analytics data for logged in Google users, etc. They are rewarding those who pay Google and punishing those who don't. It's crazy!


8:21 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Same findings here.

Since my site has been online it's had an ECPM of about £5.00 rising to £15.00 in October, November and December.

Since the 14th October the ECPM has dropped to less than £1.00 indicating that the traffic is rubbish.


8:36 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes i can definatly relate to your observation. I see the exact same across my network of content and e-shopping websites. I see the same across my clients websites (thouse who are not paying for adwords and relay on organic traffic).

+/- same uniqe daily numbers MINUS the sales. Crap traffic, window shoppers at best and its not getting any better...


10:20 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Count me in. +/- same unique daily numbers MINUS sales. Tons of long KW term traffic. No revenue. Lots of "question" formatted search quires like "what is the difference between xyz and abc.

All this traffic appeared on 10/14 in a recovery from Panda 2. The recovery is not much of a recovery if the traffic is junk.
Site is not 100% reliant on SEO.

[edited by: DirigoDev at 10:24 pm (utc) on Oct 25, 2011]


10:23 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yo Uctqnde. Did not know that this was your thread. Just for full disclosure -- we work together.


10:52 am on Oct 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Agree - huge increase in low quality traffic returned on Oct 14. Conversion rates dropped in compensation for traffic increases.

It could have something to do with Google holding back on further site quality improvements that it wants before releasing traffic on top ranking pages and keywords. Definitely think it's a "trust" throttle - the traffic release is close to an even double.


11:22 am on Oct 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It seems a lot of us have had traffic return with little if nothing to show for it in conversions.

I wonder if this is some sort of appeasement from Google while they continue to tweak Panda? i.e. giving low-quality "traffic" back to sites that obviously shouldn't have been hit so hard in the first place, just so they can say look guys, you've got traffic back....

Just a thought. I have no evidence for this outside of my own experience with this whole Panda debacle. We are obviously still not hitting the nail on the head when it comes to Panda, as this traffic to our site proves.


12:14 pm on Oct 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Personally I don't think so. I like ex Google employee Vanessa Fox's message:
remember that Panda is a site-wide assessment (so even high quality pages will be impacted)
I'd like to extend that thought to core quality keywords as well, which i think are throttled in some cases.

So although Google has returned traffic, it's only step 1 of a long road to winning sufficient quality and continual enhancement across a site to allow the core terms to rank again. Much more work is required for some sites - and remember it's not just about written unique content, it's about creating valuable differentials in experience.

Some sites can go well beyond their pre Panda traffic and quality if they get it right. Although beating brands on core terms looks a lot tougher.


1:29 pm on Oct 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Definitely. You are absolutely right that it's a site wide issue. Vanessa spoke about this at SMX East and it was quite interesting and also imperative to keep in mind. I do think Google is giving back traffic to put the onus back on the SEO/SEM, but they definitely are picking and choosing the type of traffic and I think it is Step 1 on a long road as you say.

Interestingly enough, I have seen drastically improved rankings (based on my weekly ranking reports) in areas we have never been in the top 50 before, but are now ranking well on. I have also seen improvement on other core terms that are of value to us. I find this puzzling since this isn't reflected in the SERPS. Not sure what the relationship with increased rankings on quality kw's is with that of this low-quality traffic?


2:30 pm on Oct 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This has happened to me but well before 10/14. I have 100s of terms with 100% bounce rate and I'm not surprised that those visitors are not sticking around. The bounce rates for my target keywords has remained the same but my overall bounce rate has increased from under 25% to 40%. It looks to me like Google is applying semantics based on the Monty Python Word Association Football sketch.

From time to time on Adwords I'll get a message *** keyword suggestions waiting for you. When I review them out of 600 or so there's often only one or two that are even worth considering. At least with Adwords I am in control but I'm wondering if Google (organic) is now applying the same broken word association games that Adwords uses with my content.

I strongly suspect that the issues that I'm facing post Panda are caused primarily by a lack of care in ensuring the UK English semantics rules are applied to UK sites. It looks to me like the semantics rules have been constructed by non-native UK English speakers. The same thing happened post Florida but it was possible then to get hold of GoogleGuy who quickly understood the issues and put it right. This time I think it is going to be more difficult.

One of the things I have done over the years is to make my main site semantically rich to remove some repetition and to give Google an indication of the broad field that I operate in and I think that this has helped me to rank well for the specific terms I am targeting. Now Google has lengthened the tail and applied dodgy semantics my current writing style may be counter production.


8:55 pm on Oct 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

@Uctqnde @Hissingsid - The principle of "trickling" traffic back into a site through a period of trust building has been around for many years. My guess, and it's only a guess , is that the same thinking is behind the treatment of some returning sites with Panda.

Chances are that if the quality is greatly broadened across the sites, those high quality pages with top terms that previously ranked will start to rise again.

As usual we need more data from folks to make these stories stand up. Has anyone recovered from Panda with ALL their keywords returned ?


3:26 pm on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

We're seeing garbage traffic and traffic from other countries. Our bounce rate is now through the roof!


6:09 pm on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I am seeing an uptick in traffic from other English speaking countries, and a few others that have my eyebrows raised. Not sure why. Very interesting that you're seeing traffic from other countries too.


6:20 pm on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

There's a widespread observation around the forum recently of poor results in the current SERPs. That could easily translate into garbage traffic from people making "desperate" or "hopeful" clicks. It wouldn't surprise me if Google's more frequently rewritten titles and snippets sometimes make a result look more appealing than it really should be.


7:00 pm on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Count me in, Partial Panda recovery Oct 14th with traffic that barley converts as compared to pre-Panda.


7:26 pm on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just realized. One of my non-recovered site have started getting untargeted traffic since 10/14- BR is up and time on site lowered. Some others also with somewhat same trend.
Looks like G through peanuts to us. Thanks.


8:46 pm on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Our conversion to our main CPA offer has gone down a lot further in percentage terms than our traffic. I tend to agree, the quality is lower.


8:58 pm on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Let’s all keep in mind that Americans' confidence in the economy is lower than at any point since the depths of this recession. The Conference Board reports that consumer confidence fell to 39.8 in October. The WSJ says that “Economists called the new reading worrisome but said a silver lining is that plunging confidence hasn't translated into less spending—yet.” We webmasters are a leading indicator because we’re looking at our metrics almost real-time. So how much of this is Panda or bad quality traffic and how much is consumer confidence?

Are folks not hit by the algo changes seeing roughly the same conversion?


10:02 pm on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

The poor quality traffic that we're seeing is related only to Panda returned sites in regions including the US and other than the US.

Much more work is required on those sites to bring them to the "quality" standard google is looking for. Google may be providing a "quality sandbox" to those sites providing quality results later as further improvements come through on those sites.

If further work is not done, we have seen sites slipping back under the threshold.

All this is somewhat theoretical observations - but that's my sense.


2:40 am on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

am seeing an uptick in traffic from other English speaking countries, and a few others that have my eyebrows raised.

That's what i see too. Lots of third world countries all over my logs. Yet when i check my ranking for major keywords they are SPOT ON, page one position 1's galore (for a number of sites i own and some sites that i run for clients) yet NO!, OR HARDLY ANY SALES.

Absolute rubbish of a traffic, window shoppers at best with high bounce rate.

Not sure what it is anymore... must be a mix of very bad economic conditions world wide compounded by the CRAPANDA update.

Bad AdWords traffic as well by the way... conversion there ain't looking much better. Something major is screwed up.

I'm starting to think, perhaps all "real shoppers" are too busy updating their facebook and tweeter status all day long and we are left with only the happy clicking junk...very frustrating really.


3:33 am on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I think people have panda in their heads too much. I have a client who was effected by panda but for only 1 term. All his other terms he ranks fine for. I think they made other changes other than just panda. If you are only suffering a few ranking drops and not across the board, maybe you need to check out the content on the effected pages or the links to the effected pages.


4:26 am on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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

Since February? Guaranteed Google made a bajillion other changes in addition to Panda.


5:58 am on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Another checking in with the same phenomena. Our site recovered on Oct 14th with good conversions, but since the 20th we've saw a major drop in conversions and time on site while BR is way up like 15%! We are a real estate site, we don't sell products at all. People just look at listings, nothing to send them running as we don't request money upfront. This is something with Google, not the economy. (My opinion anyways.)


8:38 am on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

It would be interesting to compare the tracking services we all use, those affected by this "dry spell" in particular.

For the record, I'm using statcounter across all the sites i currently manage. Which tracking service do you use ? ... Please list your tracking provider. Lets see, perhaps we have some pattern going.


2:31 pm on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We use GA, Urchin 7, and a proprietary system developed over the past 10 years.

The proprietary system logs all session starts, cookies, cross site cookies (we call these jump cookies), IP addresses, geoip (company, city, state/provence, country, MSA...), browser agent, referrer (base site e.g. google or blogspot w/o TLD), website, querystring (and keywords extracted from the querystring), time, new/returning customer, email id... It also logs ever page load. At 22TB and growing.

Our own system is far more accurate than the other systems. If I need an answer, I can just query it from the DB.

For the most part our own system parallels GA and Urchin with some big differences in order attribution. Country, session starts, and page loads are consistent.

This "dry spell" is real. So too is the junk traffic.


2:46 pm on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

I'm not using any tracking product at all on any page but my server keeps detailed logs that my host allows me access to. It's a bit more of a pain to see and parse these logs but well worth it, no pagespeed slowdowns caused by loading/executing tracking code/files and no 3rd party peeking of those logs.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 2:48 pm (utc) on Oct 28, 2011]


2:48 pm on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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DirigoDev and I work together, so we use the same tracking systems.


3:02 pm on Oct 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It was across the board for the most part. We held strong on a few terms, but it was a pretty dramatic loss when it happened. I am not as concerned with rankings as I am with visibility. There are some terms we rank well on the first page for - competitive terms, but the visibility just isn't there. Google is limiting our IMPS's on these terms.

This must have to do with the traffic we are currently receiving, at least in my mind.
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