Fourth Panda came down on Czech websites. How does the hammer of content farms work?

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Google surprised with the Panda 4.0 update. Its purpose is to fight non-quality and unoriginal Internet content. Who suffered and who benefited from this update?

The at least 26th confirmed Panda algorithm update was announced by Matt Cutts on his Twitter as the Panda 4.0. Number 4 indicates a larger kind of update, not solely a data update. Mozcast, however, confirmed that it had very likely been released a bit earlier. Let’s kick off with what Panda update actually is. 

Panda update was the first of a series of updates that started the era of improving Google search quality, as well as algorithmic filters that affected the sites at large. The purpose of Panda is in struggle against non-quality and unoriginal Internet content. Since content farms have been the focus from the very beginning, it used to be referred to also as a „farmers update“. In terms of the Czech Republic, it was for instance the so called „Free PR websites“ known as favourite sources of poor-quality backlinks most affected by the first updates. 

The first Panda arrived to the US in 2011 and affected 12% of the search queries. The first instance of influence in our country can be traced back to August 12th, 2011. Yet, the Panda update is not a penalization. Panda works as a filter, it evaluates sites with junk or spam content which should not get into the SERP and into high positions, and it lowers its ranking

A typical example of such content span in the Czech environment can be found, for instance, on klidas.cz. Panda means a threat to aggregators (mainly RSS), non-quality MFA sites or sites scrapping its content from other locations. 

What Google usually sees as a non-quality content:  

  • Duplicate or similar content websites
  • Websites without any benefit for the user
  • Keyword stuffing or other over optimization (black hat)
  • Too much advertisement in one page
  • Titles and other data in the snippets (such as rich snippets) do not correspond with the page content
  • Too many grammar mistakes
  • Redundant pages sent in indexation 

The announcement of this specific update was very surprising since Matt Cutts claimed at the Las Vegas Pubcon that Panda was about to become part of the main algorithm. Despite that, Panda was released as an individual update and impacted 7.5 % of all the queries (non-algorithmic queries could be 6 to 9%). 

The survey of Barry Schwartz says that marking was increased and decreased to roughly the same number of websites. 

Shortly after the Panda 4 announcement, Searchmetrics released a short list of winners and those who have been defeated by Panda. Among others, they confirm that this update has affected those aggegators which do not actually have original content and also the fact that it meant help for many other websites.

Defeated:

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

*) According to Jason Del Rey and Dr Pete from Moz, the decline of eBay is not credited to Panda[ , it is rather a manual penalization for violating the Webmaster Guidelines.

Winners

Domain Increase in %
glassdoor.com > 100%
emedicinehealth.com > 500 %
medterms.com > 500 %
yourdictionary.com > 50%
shopstyle.com > 250%
zimbio.com > 500 %
myrecipes.com > 250%
couponcabin.com > 250%
buzzfeed.com > 25%
consumeraffairs.com > 100%
wordpress.com > 20%
thinkexist.com > 250%
onhealth.com > 250%
alternativeto.net > 100%
whosdatedwho.com > 250%
reverso.net > 50%
wikimedia.org > 100%
dogtime.com > 100%
findthebest.com > 50%
eatingwell.com > 100%
quotegarden.com > 100%
goodhousekeeping.com > 250%
everydayhealth.com > 25%
simplyhired.com > 100%
momswhothink.com > 100%
similarsites.com > 100%
southernliving.com > 50%
theknot.com > 25%
allaboutvision.com > 100%
openculture.com > 50%
babyzone.com > 50%
tasteofhome.com > 33%
gotquestions.org > 100%
movie4k.to > 50%
wmagazine.com > 33%
ycharts.com > 100%
historyplace.com > 50%
rcn.com > 100%
salary.com > 50%
skepdic.com > 100%
mediawiki.org > 100%
oodle.com > 100%
abbreviations.com > 100%
homes.com > 100%
spokeo.com > 50%
hlntv.com > 33%
sparkpeople.com > 33%
hayneedle.com > 50%
emedtv.com > 100%

It must be said that in a case of Panda intervention it might not be only the Google hit traffic but also the market value as happened in the case of RetailMeNot.

Google recommends quality content 

The mantra repeated among on-line marketers goes „Build a quality content“. It is important to add that content is no specific feature applicable to all the websites flat. It is the same advice you are told when „picking up a woman“, you have to attract in some way. Google has never defined what a quality content really is. The peak of their effort came with their 23 questions you should ask yourself to improve your contentas a prevention against the Panda algorithm intervention. Only 3 of these questions deal with the so-called e-commerce websites which probably suffer from Panda intervention the most. 

We also need to remind that Google simply is not able to recognize quality content. It only operates with evaluating matrix to define the signs of non-quality content. Its detection of quality content ends where the quality content does not show any signs of non-quality content. 

International forums are overflowing with examples of small websites to which Panda caused harm and which did not deserve such intervention. It was usually a matter of small and mid-sized companies. One of the cases is the MetaFilter suite which is only one of the flagrant examples exposing Google’s big issue. 

How is Panda doing in Czech republic[ ? 

Based on my own experience I would think that not well. The whole time Panda exists I have encountered only one case of commercial website and by the reactions of SEO counsellors on the Czech Twitter, after the release of Panda 4, no major change was recorded in clients such as online marketing agencies and groups H1.cz, E-Visions, Markeťákov. 

Using 11.720 samples, the Effectix agency confirmed that numbers of the international impact on the number of phrases was similar to those in the Czech Republic – shifts in search positions took place in 7.14 % of queries. Shifts by 20 or more positions only affect 0.5 % of phrases. In such research it is not easy to state to what extent the shifts could be ascribed to Panda or to some other cause. 

We can say then that Panda 4 did not mean any significant change for the Czech, Moravian or Silesian lands. Have we finally learned to make SEO right? 

How to increase your rates with the Panda filter? 

Provided you have been affected by Panda after all and you wish to bring your traffic back to its original values, try to think about the following questions:

  • Are you using relevant and original content (titles, Meta Description, rich snippets)?
  • Isn’t your website generating an excessive number of errors 404 or 500?
  • Aren’t the search engines getting too many pages for indexation?
  • Are you using canonization properly?
  • Is your content original? Do you use duplicate content?
  • Isn’t the occurrence of your keywords too large?
  • Isn’t there too many grammar mistakes in your website?

We have gone through the Panda 4.0 filter without much costs. When is the dreaded Penguin 3.0 arriving then?

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