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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!