Google Panda 4.0: The Aftermath

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Sites reliant on organic search results might be in for another round of Google slaps after Google released its latest update to the Panda Algorithm (20th May 2014).

Panda has been constantly updated every month to do, well, whatever it is that Google want it to do. This change is slightly larger than these monthly updates, warranting further investigation.

The update is considered by many to be a softer update, but will still hurt an online business if it isn’t playing by the algorithms rules.

This softer update is designed to help small businesses do better in the search engine rankings, which gives all those that got hit (perhaps unfairly) by previous versions some hope to bounce back in the rankings.

Like other Panda updates, 4.0 is aimed at reducing the number of spammy sites in the search results.

Sites that contain thin, scraped or duplicate content are the ones that are most likely to get penalised by the algorithm.

The bigger you are, the harder you fall

SearchMetrics released a list of sites they have been monitoring, which clearly shows that the post Panda effect has severely damaged traffic to some large sites.

aceshowbiz.com > – 75%
yourtango.com > – 75%
spoonful.com > – 75%
songkick.com > – 75%
rd.com > – 75%
globalpost.com > – 75%
mnn.com > – 75%
ask.com > – 50%
starpulse.com > – 50%
isitdownrightnow.com > – 50%
examiner.com > – 50%
dealcatcher.com > – 50%
livescience.com > – 50%
webopedia.com > – 50%
xmarks.com > – 50%
siteslike.com > – 50%
digitaltrends.com > – 50%
health.com > – 50%
thehollywoodgossip.com > – 50%
gossipcop.com > – 50%
doxo.com > – 50%
heavy.com > – 50%
parenting.com > – 50%
espnfc.com > – 50%
serviceguidance.com > – 50%
mystore411.com > – 50%
delish.com > – 50%
whatscookingamerica.net > – 50%
ibiblio.org > – 50%
webutation.info > – 50%
mybanktracker.com > – 50%
ebay.com > – 33%
biography.com > – 33%
retailmenot.com > – 33%
history.com > – 33%
simplyrecipes.com > – 33%
realsimple.com > – 33%
appbrain.com > – 33%
dealspl.us > – 33%
techtarget.com > – 33%
chow.com > – 33%
csmonitor.com > – 33%
urlm.co > – 33%
healthcentral.com > – 33%
internetslang.com > – 33%
cheapflights.com > – 33%
yellowpages.com > – 20%
toptenreviews.com > – 20%
columbia.edu > – 20%
songlyrics.com > – 20%

 

eBay is one of the largest sites on the internet but has suffered a dramatic 33% loss in traffic.

Ask.com suffered even more with a 50% drop (personally I am quite happy with that!).

Panda 4.0 eBay

Courtesy of Searchmetrics.com

Even a website that has been venture backed by Google, RetailMeNot.com, has suffered a severe blow to traffic.

Of course, as the original article states, we are only looking at a thin slice of the picture. Only the site owners know the true story, but the stats do seem to be somewhat damning.

On the flip side, a site like Buzzfeed.com which tends towards the rather thin side of content has had a potential boost in traffic of about 25%.

Is this related to Panda? Possibly, or it could have been another reason. Without further study over the long term it will be hard to say for sure.

SearchEngineLand has also done a report, stating that Press Release sites have taken a battering in this round of updates as well. The sites tested incurred a drop in traffic between 50 and 83%!

I think that Press Release sites were certainly due for a Google slap, as they have historically tended to be misused by both honest businesses and spammers alike.

Feeding the Panda

Like with any animal, if you feed it right and pet it and love it, it will become your friend. There are many ways that you can stay ahead of Googles algorithm updates, by feeding the right stuff to it.

Quality

Just like with your cat, Google will turn its nose up at poor quality food content. Make sure that you have a strategy in place to write useful and unique content.

Regular

Writing one blog post once every six months is just not going to cut it, even if it is a very high quality article. Make sure that you are scheduling content to come out as regular as clockwork, I would say at the very minimum, once every two weeks. More than that is always a good thing.

Outdated SEO

If you are still using outdated SEO tricks on your site, such as keyword stuffing in the meta tags, you will get penalised!

Stop doing it that way and instead focus on making sure your articles are quality. Keywords then to fall into an article naturally, and if not a little tweaking always helps. Just remember not to go overboard.

Stay current

Having a modern, device agnostic website, and a clean and user friendly navigation still plays an important role in site SEO. Ignore it at your peril.

Have you been affected by Panda 4.0? Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit by popofatticus

5 Comments

  1. Dean Robinson says:

    @Nancy,

    You could try a Reconsideration Request – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35843?hl=en

    You will need to make sure that the site follows the Webmaster Guidelines first of all, and also remember that there is no guarantee that a request will put you back on track in the search results, it could potentially even harm you further.

    If you think your site follows the guidelines and has been unfairly penalised it is pretty much the only option to take (unless you’re willing to cross your fingers and hope another algorithm update rectifies the issue).

    Reply
  2. Thank you for the analysis and the article. We have been very concerned about our drop in traffic since the new Google update on May 19th. Yes, we have lost 50% of our traffic and it has hit us hard as What’s Cooking America (WCA) is not a spam site, yet the new algorithm has hit us us… again.

    WCA is one of the original cooking web sites on the internet, having started back in 1997. There are over 3000 pages of unique and substantial food related content. We are a family owned web site and one of the largest food related web sites that is still privately owned, not backed by a large company or magazine. My Mother has been the sole person maintaining all the content and trying to keep up with Google’s changes, and the changes in technology. Just recently, my sister and I began working with our Mother, on a part-time bases, to try and help with the vast amount of work.

    So what do we do? We feel this hit has really hurt our rankings, and as a result the income that my Mother makes has dropped significantly It is frustrating that we can’t talk to anyone to figure out what we can do to regain our previously well deserved high rankings on Google search engines. We have followed the rules, we are not a link farm, we don’t have duplicate content or sites, and we aren’t spamming. The rules keep changing and we don’t have a professional team to troubleshoot the continuous declines as a result of the changes.

    Reply
  3. Dean Robinson says:

    @JHWhite, unfortunately Google has the legal upper hand. They are not obliged to show your site in a prime position on their business site (bearing in mind that their search result service is free).

    As @Tony Tong says, when dealing with billions of websites, it tends to be hard to filter out the dross without sometimes filtering out the decent terms-abiding sites.

    Google’s track record with it has been hit and miss in my opinion, but we only tend to see a small slice of the reality, and usually the negative side at that.

    One way to fight back as it were, would be to try and get better rankings on alternative search engines such as Bing and DuckDuckGo. But when was the last time you heard some say “I’m just going to DuckDuckGo that business”? Google has the monopoly currently and the lawyers to back it up.

    Reply
  4. To JHWhite, I feel that Google should not be the main party to blame since their aim is to produce relevant and quality content for their search engines users. Some website creators simply abuse search engine formulas and stuff keywords to get ranked, which may not result in good quality information for end users.
    Google has to overcome to spam sites, so it has to resort to new measures like frequency of posts or authority to separate the great from the bad, though it is never foolproof.

    Reply
  5. Brick and mortar businesses would sue any other company that devastated and devalued their business. I would suggest that internet businesses look at Google that way, organize and fight back rather than constantly trying to appease the very company that’s destroying them.

    Reply

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