Google's Panda, or Farmer Update, is a game changer for some. REAL SEO becomes even more important now!
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As Google rolls out it latest algorithm change, the "feared" Panda Update (or as some refer to it, "Farmer"), SEO Australia has now been affected as much as the rest of the world.

There appears to be a mixed reaction as to its accuracy though; in other words, how it differentiates a site (or page) of value from a low rent, spammy, or virtually worthless site (or page).

Originally people, including myself, were excited that perhaps THIS update might get rid of some of those worthless, poorly written article websites (not naming names), and other websites which merely "scrape" content (you could substitute the word "steal" in some cases).

Panda Update But it appears that Panda may have gone a LOT further in its culling of search results. Many good quality websites appear to have been penalised simply because they are not "authority" websites, but even worse, some very poor, low quality websites with virtually no useful content appear to have been rewarded.

Most people generally agree that Panda was supposed to target content farms (eg, article marketing sites, eHow etc), scraper websites (sites which simply report content from other websites), Ecommerce websites (ones which used product descriptions which were the same as everywhere else), and other low value websites like coupon services (again, copied, non-original content).

HOWEVER, I believe panda went even further - it also targeted relevance (among other metrics).

As you can probably discern from my "Blog" (it's not really a blog, but "My Articles and Miscellanea" wouldn't fit on the button), I write about many and varied subjects, not just about SEO, websites, social media, and other web-related stuff.

Most of my articles do (or did) rank very well in Google searches, and many still do, because I targeted what people searched for - after of course I decided what I was going to write about. So now my website is full of original and informative articles, BUT the problem is they cover many different subjects; from home theatre to netbooks, law articles to social media, product reviews to company profiles.

Because the articles in justweb® are all original, yet the site was still somewhat affected, I believe part of the Panda update targets overall relevance, as well as quality. Thus, even justweb® has been affected by this latest algorithm change.

Panda visits justweb®

On May 5th in the morning all was good. After lunch, a lot of my top results had dropped, and traffic reduced by about 20%. In case you're wondering, I don't mind people knowing; it's all a learning experience, but besides, I'm always open about Internet traffic to this website.

Panda update effects Let's look at one example. Way back in 2008 I wrote an article about radio ads after I heard an ad on AM radio which linked how good radio advertising was when used in conjunction with websites. The unfortunate thing for the advertiser was that their website was down, and stayed down for well over an hour.

Several days after I wrote the article, it arrived on page one in Google a search for "radio advertising", and stayed there for about three years.

That was until May 5th. If you click the graphic to the right, you can see the history of that keyword in reference to my article since it went live.

If you search Google for "radio advertising", the results are quite relevant, populated (mostly) with websites which are arguably more relevant for that search term than mine. I don't like it, but that's life.

Panda Update example - fail!

HOWEVER, let's now look at an example of a search for "Mercedes Dealers", displaying over 23 million results. There is now a website which appears quite highly on page one in which is NOT a Mercedes Dealer (in Sydney or anywhere), has little or no informational value, sells links (is Google ok with this now?), and simply has a short list of Mercedes Dealers on its page.

Not only that, but much of the rest of the website is made up from content taken from article websites (the very websites that Panda was supposed to devalue), or simply scraped from others with slight or no changes.

In THIS example, Panda has got it wrong - VERY wrong. And there are MANY other examples of where businesses have been affected by this latest Google algorithm update.

Panda summary

On the plus side, Panda has managed to weed out some of the flotsam and jetsam in their search results, and the fact that free article websites have seen a big drop can only be a good thing - it will help make REAL search engine optimisation even MORE important because spamming article sites with backlinks will be a failed strategy - HOPEFULLY!

Back to justweb® though. Earlier I showed one example of an article which has dropped after three years of ranking highly. The website has dropped for a lot of other keyword phrases as well, and I know why, and how to fix it, or in some cases, "live" with it. It's the very first Google algorithm update which has adversely affected justweb®, so we can't complain TOO much.

Now if ONLY Google would start to devalue blog link spam, link buying, and Google Places spam etc., etc., we MIGHT be getting somewhere!

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Rob - JustWeb


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