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As many of you are probably aware, DaniWeb was hit hard by Google's Panda algorithm update back in February. A news story written by Davey entitled Google Farmer Update: what went wrong? explained that the February 24th Panda algorithm targeted at content farms literally cut DaniWeb's US traffic by half. The global rollout that followed a month later did the same to all of our English-speaking traffic.

On March 3rd, I started a forum thread in Google's Webmaster Central forum as a plea of desperation. A couple hundred responses explained in detail all of the different things that I've done to try to regain Google's trust, along with a back and forth debate with some of the regulars in that forum as to what to do next. I'm going to spare you the details of rehashing everything in this article. You're free to read that forum thread and it basically is a play-by-play of the last two months of my life.

After quite a number of really tough weeks, I'm pleased to finally say that traffic is now on an upswing. The following Google Analytics graph explains it better than I ever could:

The graph indicates a slight dip towards the end of February when just the US was affected by Panda, and then a huge dip when Panda went global. However, you can see that over the past couple of weeks, traffic has been on the upswing, increasing day after day. We're not yet near where we were before Panda, but there definitely is hope that we will get back there soon.

As many of you SEOs are aware, Google releases quite a few hundred algorithm updates over the course of the year. Many algorithm changes have already gone into effect between when Panda first was rolled out and today. Therefore, I can't say without a doubt that our upswing is directly related to us being un-Pandalized in Google's eyes and not due to another algorithm change that was released. In fact, in all honestly, that's probably what it is.

What I'm sure many of you guys are wondering is what it is that I've changed. Well, a lot of things. If you really want to know the nitty gritty of it, check out that forum thread in Webmaster Central. However, in a nutshell, I've worked on removing duplicate content, making use of the canonical tag and better use of 301 redirects, and adding the noindex meta tag to SERP-like pages and tag clouds. I've also done a lot of work on page load times. Interestingly enough, I've discovered that the number of pages crawled per day has NOT decreased in tandem with Panda (surprisingly), but it HAS been directly affected by our page load times.Pages crawled per day:

Time spent downloading a page:


I guess it also goes without saying that it's also important to constantly build backlinks. Like many other content sites out there, we are constantly scraped on a regular basis. A lot of other sites out there syndicate our RSS feeds. It is entirely possible/plausible that Google's Panda algorithm [appropriately] hit all of the low quality sites that were just syndicating and linking back to us (with no unique content of their own), ultimately discrediting half of the sites in our backlink portfolio, killing our traffic indirectly. Therefore, it isn't that we got flagged by Panda's algorithm, but rather that we just need to work on building up more backlinks.

We're working on it. In the meantime, we've stopped the downward trend of traffic decreasing day by day, and we've been on an upward trend for a few weeks now. Hopefully, it will only improve as time goes on.

Edited by Dani: Fixed typo

Attachments crawled.png 13.87 KB graph.gif 5.47 KB time.png 10.89 KB

While pursuing a Computer Science degree, I founded DaniWeb.com, an online community for developers and IT professionals. I coded the backend platform from the ground up and I also do all of the advertising sales and SEO. I'm a super-geeky programmer with a passion for Internet marketing.

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Last Post by macgizmoguy
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Dani thanks for all this info! Will definitely be useful when analyzing other sites. This is awesome!

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Google panda is very useful for duplicate content and made for adsense. If your site have duplicate content and its designed only for adsense your site will be penalized by Google.

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Thank for for that it's really useful Article i hope we will do it on my site <snipped link>

Edited by Narue: Snipped self-promotion link

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Thanks Dani, my site was hit quite a bit worst than you actually but for past 24hrs I saw some increase, lets hope it goes up. I hate the panda update, how come a site that is 16 years old has pr 4 and thousands of legit not one bought backlinks is still not ranking on first page for its keyword?

lookup mwd , you will find us on 2nd page!

We lost hundreds of thousands of visitors nearly, 75% of traffic is gone, 27 writers are layed off.
Anyway, i learned some lessons so.. i kind of stopped whining, but I feel your pain!

Edited by Ezzaral: Removed link. Please restrict personal links to your user signature.

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..................I've worked on removing duplicate content, making use of the canonical tag and better use of 301 redirects, and adding the noindex meta tag to SERP-like pages and tag clouds. I've also done a lot of work on page load times..................................

Yeah, that's Good. I really am glad to know about this extremely appreciable action taken like adding canonical tags, And basically, the best part is adding the no index tag for SERP like pages. This step would also help you to maintain the decorum of your forum and this will make sure the members coming here are participating in a healthy discussions.

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Just goes to show why you should never rely on Google but treat it as the free bonus that it is. As you have experienced, it's not to good to rely on a third party that you have no control over, as a source of visitors.

I would concentrate on delivering a better service that will get advertised by word of mouth.

Edited by Narue: Snipped fake signature

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Using Google's canonical tag is pretty good if you are passing session IDs in URLs as Google sees every URL as different so all those pointing to the same page but with different session IDs and therefore different URLs would be seen as duplicate content.

The canonical tag means Google just indexes the page under one URL.

(Hopefully correct sig below, last post sig was deemed fake but was genuine but not in correct format, don't post here much!)

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Panda update changes the SEO in a large way, yes people talks and relates Panda as duplicate content but there are many other facts like more ads then content.

Content that is not rich or having less meanings, changing design of site regularly all can decreases the value of ur sites.

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Glad to hear about the recovery of Daniweb ...

It was just yesterday when I received some newsletter from teliad. They compared the changes in Ranking visibility from march to may from the top 100 web pages for englisch search queries ...

The biggest winners are:

1. youtube.com: 54.096,74 (+139,8%)
2. facebook.com: 24.167,27 (+124,26%)
3. squidoo.com: 11.467,18 (+63,60%)
4. ehow.co.uk: 6.035,64 (+58,27%)
5. thefreedictionary.com: 5.676 (+38,45%)
6. flickr.com: 12.905,11 (+38,00%)
7. alibaba.com: 7.523,97 (+35,74%)
8. myspace.com: 6.660,76 (+30,86%)
9. nextag.com: 11.453,02 (+30,77%)
10. informe.com: 8.796,46 (+28,89%)

The biggest losers are:

1. associatedcontent.com: 9.129,76 (-56,84%)
2. suite101.com: 9.590,36 (-52,82%)
3. wisegeek.com: 3.921,63 (-52,66%)
4. thefind.com: 4.077,09 (-43,76%)
5. findarticles.com: 3.872,02 (-39,98)
6. examiner.com: 3.116,22 (38,69%)
7. ezinearticles.com: 14.712,47 (38,62%)
8. buzzle.com: 7.375,12 (-37,74%)
9. ehow.com: 24.304,51 (-28,26%)
10. brothersoft.com: 3.895,10 (-27,36%)

Source: teliad.com newsletter

Seems to me that the big brands have got the best of the bargain after Google Panda Farmer Update .... but it seems weird to me, that ehow.co.uk is one of the biggest winners meanwhile ehow.com lost about 30% of their ranking visibility ...

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One good thing I like about Google Panda Update (though it hit hard on some of my websites) is that it serves as a wake up call to further improve our performance in posting quality content. I am glad to know that Daniweb is fast recovering and yeah you're right, it'll improve overtime.

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I figured it would take the search engine a bit of time to realize Daniweb web pages are uniquely genuine and should be rewarded again as such.

As far as backlinks go, I don't get it. How do you not see that your own web pages are your biggest and best linking strategy? Seek externally all you want but you cannot control the fluctuating values of incoming links yet are in full control of your internal linking structure. Do you think you are fully capitalizing on your own off-page ranking influences. A link is a link.

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We're pretty much holding steady. There hasn't been a significant traffic increase since the beginning of the month.

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OK. I heard that you pulled the CSS tag clouds - I'm still seeing them. Do you think they - and the RSS features are what are causing some part of the issues?

And have you gone back out and officially added more backlinks?

I'm trying to see if anything - short of domain makeover and name change is the way out of the penalty.

Since it seems to be manually run - that means the penalties aren't lifted until it's run again. The rumor is that it's running once a month - but I tend to think more like every 2 weeks.

Just my opinion tho.

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Tag clouds are now rendered via JavaScript from a page that is in the robots.txt file, so Google can't see them. RSS features can account for other sites syndicating our content and ranking higher than us. Yes, we have been hard at work building up our editorial section to create link bait and generate natural backlinks.

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Dani, how's June shaping up? I'm seeing wild week-long swings (+30% one week -30% the next) on a couple of similarly structured (though of course less prominent ;) ) sites of mine. Have a feeling Google thinks they have farms under control and now want to mess with forums.

Any feedback from other forum owners/operators?

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I'm pleased to say we've had a full recovery from Google Panda. Traffic is now better than ever. Thanks to everyone for their support!!

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I just want to follow up with a screenshot of what a Panda recovery looks like.

This is a Google Analytics graph of US visitors. Notice our downfall happened on February 24th, coinciding exactly with the first iteration of Panda. And our recovery happened on July 23rd, coinciding exactly with the last iteration of Panda.

This is a Google Analytics graph of global visitors. The decline was not as noticeable globally until it began affecting all English-speaking traffic worldwide. Again, the recovery coincided with the last iteration of Panda.

Attachments global_visitors.jpg 11.06 KB US_visitors.jpg 10.79 KB
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Dani, that is awesome! It seems to show it much more apparent here:

http://www.quantcast.com/daniweb.com

Clear as day that daniweb has had a full recovery. I haven't really said much since this has happened, but I have been following to see if you have ever made any progress. I had a feeling if anybody would get out of it, you would first. I have also been following you in the Google.com Webmaster forum area (many rude and undeserving responses there btw). Do you attribute your recovery to numerous changes you have made, or does any recent change stand out to you more that finally had an impact to get you out of this mess?

Our main website Ozzu was thankfully never affected by Panda, but other websites we run have been and its a nightmare trying to figure out what needs to be changed to get traffic to return to normal levels.

Again, congratulations, I bet you are sleeping much better now!

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Some of my websites were effected by the update, not as big as Dani though, still I suffered, they suddenly returned as well.

I have also noticed that when my business appears on Google Places, they remove my site from the organic list, then when they rotate the places and mine does not appear, it re-appears back in the organic results under the chosen search term.

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