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The Effect of Panda on New Sites - its "penalty" impact



11:23 am on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I assume (correct me if I am wrong) that "panda" targets websites with thin content. And it is now part of the ongoing algo, rather than being run from time to time.

However, new sites are sometimes thin, and grow with time....into thick, fat, useful, resources.

So how long (if my very simplistic, linear thinking is "right enough") would google give a new site before penalizing it as part of the Panda's attempt to exclude thin sites from the search results?

I'm also interested to hear what type of penalty is incurred, at least in terms of visibility in the search results. I believe a Panda penalty looks like the EOR ("end of results" or "-950") penalty, but maybe not quite so severe. Can anyone else bear that out?



1:35 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Panda targets sites with a lot of thin content. It doesn't target thin sites.

What I mean by that is, it's ok if a site is small and doesn't have a lot of pages on it. Many small business sites are like this. The sites can still rank fine, assuming the content is good. Panda seems more concerned with knocking down larger sites with a lot of content that is either short, generic, or duplicative in nature.

When one of my sites was hit by Panda, it didn't disappear from the search results. Rather, every page was dropped 3-7 positions for the terms it was ranking for. That might not sound severe compared to a -950, but it still resulted in a loss of 60-75% (going off memory here).

Other people have reported more drastic drops, but I'll tell you, in some cases dropping from 1-8 is almost as bad as dropping from 1 - 950.


3:38 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Sand - did you manage to recover from your Panda hit? If so it would be interesting to hear what processes you went through. We're in a similar position where we've been hit by Panda but only fell a few positions.


3:50 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Rather, every page was dropped 3-7 positions for the terms it was ranking for. That might not sound severe compared to a -950, but it still resulted in a loss of 60-75% (going off memory here).

Agreed, 3-7 positions is a huge drop if you're #1 or #2 for almost everything.

When/if you fixed the issues that caused Panda, did you recover to your old positions?


3:54 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I did recover, thankfully. Traffic is now at an all time high. Here's the basic rundown of what I did:

1. Panic. Initially, I honestly felt I had done nothing to warrant the penalty. But in time I was able to step back far enough to realize that I probably wasn't adding as much value to the internet as I could have been. I eventually came to understand feeling sorry for myself wasn't going to fix anything, and took it as a risk-free opportunity to make my site better.

2. My site had become pretty big over the years, and at first I didn't know where to start with cleanup. So I started by writing a new value proposition. This was just a statement that said exactly what the goal of my site was. Then, I evaluated each piece of content against that value proposition. If it didn't fit, I deleted it and let the URL 404. This was painful but (I believe) necessary.

3. I spent 6 straight months rewriting content. What used to be 300-400 words was now 600 - 1,000 words. I got rid of all generic text (like manufacturer descriptions, etc). I also spent a lot of time coming up with ways that I could add more value. One of the things I did was surface a lot of data (both mine and 3rd party) in interactive chart form to help visitors make better decisions. This lead to more time on site, more conversions, and it also generated a LOT more links / social mentions.

4. I continued to market my site as always and continued to add new content all the time.

5. With most of my time focused on rewriting, I started paying outside experts to write new content. This was expensive, but totally worth it. The site is so much better now that there are a variety of expert voices helping people solve their problems. This is something I have continued to do.

I was hit in April of 2012, and saw the first signs of recovery at the end of August in that year. I continued to see improvement with every Panda iteration, until finally things came back to 'normal' in January of 2013. It's continued to grow each month since then.


4:21 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ Sand

Same thing happening here. Drops across the board of about 3-7 positions. About 60% of our traffic gone because of it.

Thanks for the insight. Very useful! I agree, once we were able to step back and look at stuff (with the help of someone who doesn't stare at the site all day)....all of a sudden the boilerplate content and duped content started to stick out like a sore thumb. What we thought was helpful to the customer (which definitely is) Google wasn't a fan of across thousands of pages.

I'm curious with the new Panda, where it is rolled out weekly or so, what that will do to recovery time. We saw our drop of 60% over a 2 month period of time vs. one big drop. I wonder if the recovery will be similar, slowly regaining 7-10% of your referrals as they re run the Panda weekly.


9:34 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

What used to be 300-400 words was now 600 - 1,000 words.

Thus, now you are saying the same thing with more words just to avoid Panda?


10:38 pm on May 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

No. The new versions are much better resources that go into far more detail. There's no question that they are better pages.r


2:48 pm on May 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member


Did you make any internal link changes, such as adding more internal links, having less of them, changing anchor texts?

If you changed anchor texts, can you mention what type(s) of change(s) you made?


4:29 pm on May 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

No, nothing like that. I was happy with my navigation and internal linking. If you visited my site, there would be nothing you could point to and say "that's for SEO." That's always my gut check.

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