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Maybe Panda is not site wide?

     
3:22 pm on Mar 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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We experienced a drop around the same time as a Panda update by 15-20% but only for US traffic and only in one section of our website. It could be external factors like competition recovering from previous hits, etc...

There were several other instances but we could never tell if it is external factors or not.

Could it be that Panda is not a site wide penalty after all?
5:26 pm on Mar 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Most of my site was hit by Panda but two sections were spared. They have lost almost no organic search traffic while the rest of my site dropped by 85% since Panda first ran in 2011. As part of my Panda recovery process I've been working through "silos" to try to improve section by section and so far I'm seeing results. Just waiting for Google to refresh Panda (hasn't been done since Oct according to John Mueller) since the bulk of my changes have been done in the past 4 months (and yes, it took me 4 years, 2 experts, and lots of $$ to finally figure out what Google didn't like about my site).
6:56 pm on Mar 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@getcooking what sort of issues did you have that made you a target for Panda? You've mentioned silos, was your navigation part of the issue why you were hit by Panda?
11:09 pm on Mar 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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As far as I can tell, navigation was never the issue. The site architecture has always been pretty well siloed which is actually why I think those two sections survived (there are also other sections that weren't hit as bad, but most were smacked down good). My data pretty much tells me that issue is/was related to the content pages themselves. My site is strictly an info site that follows the structure: homepage -> categories -> content. Most categories got hit and that's where our traffic biggest drop was from Panda (the category landing pages). However, the problem lies within the content in those categories, not the landing pages that got hit the hardest. As I've fixed content under the categories, those category landing pages have started to rebound. Now if we can just get Panda to run again...
3:40 am on Mar 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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In my experience, Panda has always been site-wide. I'm not saying that's always going to be the case, but from the 10 or so sites I've worked with personally, that's how it's been.

That said, even though I see drops across virtually all keywords, not all drops are super dramatic. Some may drop 30 spots, while others drop only 2-3.
11:36 am on Mar 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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In a hangout video, John Mueller said that sometimes, their algorithms (such as Panda) can operate on parts of a website, rather than the whole website. This happens when they can identify a website's structure properly.

This would explain what you observed, especially if your site is large.
3:08 pm on Mar 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Also, Panda doesn't exist in isolation. About a year ago, Matt Cutts said that Google was working on giving a boost to people or sites (he wasn't clear which) that/who were authorities on specific topics. So, even if Panda demoted you overall, you might get a boost for a major subtopic, and that boost could cancel out or reduce the impact of the overall Panda hit.

FWIW, our long-established information site was hit by Panda back in 2011 (and a number of times afterward), and we lost a lot of traffic as a result. But we never dropped terribly far in the rankings--we just slipped by a few slots, on average, as big-name sites (megasites and name-brand sites) floated upward in the wake of Panda. And let's face it: The difference between, say, spot 1 to 3 and spots 8 to 10 can have a huge impact on organic search traffic.

We recovered from Panda in last May's Panda update (our Google referrals are currently running about 300 percent ahead of the same period last year), but as far as I can tell, the recovery had nothing to do with anything we did, which wasn't much. I think we just got the benefit of the "subject expert" tweak that Matt Cutts predicted a year ago. (Today, our top landing pages are all pages for which we have a certain amount of subject expertise: I don't see as many of our random longtail pages ranking well as I did pre-Panda.)
1:16 pm on Mar 31, 2015 (gmt 0)

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guggi2000, I am a couple of weeks behind you in Panda (I thought I was the only one late to the party!). For the last 4 months I have been removing press articles that had been sent to me by film studios and pressured into publishing them amongst my original content. This content was used by other sites.

Clearly my stats (using barracuda tool - have you used this?) prove this was Panda for sure but I also carried out a Penguin clean-up also (though this was not required).

I am really keen to have a look at your site and follow progress as I don't know anyone in the same boat as us. Could you PM me a link and contact details?
 

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