Ouch Google! That Panda Bites Something Mean
One marketer's reaction to Google's never ending PANDA UPDATES and fallout.
uch Google! That Panda Bites Something Mean (How To Keep Smiling
While Google Is Disrupting Your Traffic)
Copyright © Titus Hoskins
Author's Note: Despite any negative comments in this article, I have always liked Google, I still do. Mainly because in over 10 years of marketing online and running several websites, Google has been very good to me. I owe my current online lifestyle to Google and I will be forever grateful. However, like many other webmasters, I am seeing the really ruthless side of Google with the endless Panda Updates, insidiously eroding years of hard work. But I am desperately trying to keep my sense of humor while figuring out new ways to please the master.
These days, whenever I think of Google the search engine, one phrase keeps popping into my head - the accidental bully. Many would laugh at that phrase and say there is nothing accidental about it, Google is being an absolute bully on purpose. But I take a more moderate view, I truly don't believe Google purposely goes out of it's way to torture webmasters.
It usually happens by accident!
Google's goals are simple. Create a higher quality web and place links to those sites in their SERPs or search results to give their users the best experience possible. Simple objective and if they have to bully webmasters into producing high quality original content on their sites - so be it.
Not exactly the crime of the century by any means and maybe if all else fails, Google even has the moral right to bully webmasters into giving their visitors a rewarding experience. The old "ends justifies the means" view which is usually applied to more serious arguments than this one.
However, when it's your livelihood which is on the line, it can be somewhat serious. A few days ago, I found out just how serious when my traffic from Google fell by over 50% on one of my main sites. And now when I think of Google, I don't see an accidental bully but that little kid in the "Charlie Bit My Finger" viral video. And myself saying:
"Ouch Google - That Really Hurts"
I swear, somewhere in the background, Google is making that evil little laugh, just to rub it in, but of course that's just plain foolish since search engines can't laugh, no matter how many whimsical logos they come up with.
All kidding aside, losing or seeing your valuable keyword rankings drop from the first page in Google is no laughing matter. Especially top rankings you have consistently held for over 6 or 7 years - usually in the #1 spot. Suddenly your site or content is no longer valid is a hard pill to swallow, especially when you consider Google is now judging your whole site - rather than the webpage that's ranking.
This has everything to do with a little harmless animal called the Panda. But this Panda carries a mean vicious bite and someone at Google definitely knows how to laugh and has an ironic sense of humor for naming these latest algorithm updates after such a benign creature.
Google's Panda is a cross between a Pitbull and a mean Grizzly.
I have weathered countless Google Updates so when the Panda Update was made by Google at the beginning of 2011, I didn't take much notice. My site wasn't hit with the first wave of changes, but in the minor aftershocks, I did notice a slight dip in some of my traffic. This mainly came from devastated sites and scared webmasters deleting non-unique articles from their sites. A few sites such as Buzzle.com were so petrified they even deleted all their unique articles.
In May, my traffic bounced back up as it usually does with these updates, however in the middle of July my traffic numbers dropped about a third on my main site. This happened overnight - like most of the traffic declines which come from Google. The other search engines are much more steady with their traffic swings, unfortunately both Bing/Yahoo now control so little of the web's search traffic, any swings probably wouldn't be noticed much anyway.
My summer's traffic decline was probably due to the Panda 2.5 Update which further defined the series of changes Google is making. Then the real bombshell came on Oct. 13th, when I lost another 50% of my Google traffic on my main site. Many of my other sites weren't touched by the latest Panda adjustments.
(One good thing you can say about Google, they do share the misery around. You can find the fallout and reactions of other webmasters to Panda 2.5.2 here: SEroundtable Panda 2.5.2 and WebmasterWorld Panda )
However, Matt Cutts did warn webmasters to expect Minor Flux in the results over the next couple of weeks. He wasn't kidding about that one, more like dead serious. But I do like the fact that Google is becoming much more open in sharing information about these updates. Also, webmasters do have the right or chance to get their site reconsidered if there are serious problems and they are now fixed.
With these whole series of changes, many SEO experts believe Google is coming out strongly against affiliate sites and online affiliate marketers. The main reason being: affiliate marketers and affiliate sites are in direct competition with Google. These are the middlemen who come between Google and the major companies who are Google's bread and butter. If these companies can get their leads and sales from affiliate marketers they don't need to spend the big bucks on Google Adwords.
Any company must eliminate their customers' options if they want to dominate the market.
Google has already eliminated these affiliate sites from Adwords, why not do the same with their search results? Above all else, one has to realize Google is a business. Their job is to compete and eliminate the competition - we have seen this countless times - Android vs iPhone, Google vs Bing, Google+ vs Facebook, Google Chrome vs Internet Explorer, Google Offers vs Groupon.
Now downlisting affiliate focused sites during the upcoming lucrative holiday season will surely make it extremely hard for many struggling sites and marketers to survive. Especially when many businesses have already geared up based on traffic and sales coming from their top rankings in Google, which have now disappeared overnight. Maybe this is not such a laughing matter afterall. Google did the same thing years ago and many webmasters falsely believed Google's promise that they wouldn't play the Grinch so near the holidays again, but perhaps the temptation was just too great.
Again, I take a more moderate view and believe Google is not against affiliate sites or marketers... they're just against those affiliate sites and marketers who put up crappy rehashed content and sites which offer little value to the end user. The whole purpose of Panda is to clean up the web from this inferior content and offer much more substantial results to searchers.
Which all spells bad news for my main site - does it need to be cleaned up? Is the content inferior or sub-par for the web? Is it too promotional? Have I relied too heavily on article marketing, which brings in the whole duplicate content issue?
All serious honest questions I have to ask myself, but I refuse to become too paranoid over the whole issue. I do offer almost all unique content. I do make original videos and slideshows. I do create free guides which my visitors can download. I do put out a small weekly newsletter full of my own opinionated views and findings.
Point is, I can't argue that my site doesn't cover numerous aspects of running an online business or marketing site. It covers many topics and resources related to operating an online business. It is not topic-centric. Does that mean my site is a "content farm", which is the main objective or target of the Panda Updates.
Of course, I don't think so, but Google may think otherwise. In the end, and in actual fact, neither my opinion nor Google's really matter - it is your site's visitor's opinion which will eventually rule the day. At least in an ideal world, this should be the case and web users should decide which sites make it to the top in Google.
One would honestly hope that some promising new Google products like the Chrome browser and its million of users will deliver an honest vote, that millions of Google+ members will further confirm that vote and that the +1 button will deliver the final verdict Google needs to rank the best results possible.
Post-Panda, I believe webmasters must not only be concerned with the quality of their content, but also with their site's metrics such as pageviews, time spent on site, bounce rates, loading times, linking structure... they must also make sure that their content is represented and bookmarked in all the social networking sites - especially Google owned entities like the ones mentioned above.
One Major Trend I Am Noticing
Keyword specific domains/sites are holding their ground and even rising in Google's rankings. Having a perfect match with your domain's name and the keyword phrase searched will usually land you on the first page, if not in the top spot. Several of my "exact" domains/sites kept their #1 rankings and a few others went up a few notches.
Post-Panda and in a Google controlled web/world, I believe these types of domains will become even more dominant as Google neatly and narrowly packages the web into little topic-centric boxes. A site which covers many subject areas will be classified as inferior or of less importance to a search engine that wants precise exact answers to all of life's questions.
The Renaissance Man doesn't have a chance in hell against this Panda.
All views, opinions and conclusions are solely those of the author, who is a full-time online affiliate marketer. He runs numerous niche sites, including two highly ranked sites on Internet Marketing Tools. To get valuable marketing tips for free click here: internet marketing tools or try here google cash file Titus Hoskins Copyright 2011.
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