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As we all know, the latest version of Panda (hit in March 2013) was the last one to be pushed out manually. Google announced that from now on, Panda will be integrated into the main Google algorithm and will be a rolling update.

As someone who was hit in November (Panda 22) and hasn't recovered since, I was just wondering if anyone actually recovered in April or May with this new Panda format?

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Last Post by winstanleyf1
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    I've also written a news piece about 'Google Ghost' here: http://www.daniweb.com/internet-marketing/search-engine-optimization/news/456005/was-daniweb-hit-by-the-google-ghost-update Read More

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As someone who was hit in November (Panda 22) and hasn't recovered since, I was just wondering if anyone actually recovered in April or May with this new Panda format?

Hi Dani,

My hunch is that you weren't hit by Panda #22 as that occurred on November 21, 2012. According to your graph on quantcast you were hit on November 18, 2012 which puts you in another less known group that got affected around that time. Between November 16 and November 18, 2012 a bunch of forums and UGC (user generated content) type websites were hit hard, including ours (Ozzu).

This thread at webmaster world may interest you:

http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4523365.htm

For the date it happened to you as well as the type of website Daniweb is, I believe you got affected by the same update that many of us UGC type websites got hit by. As far as I know Google has not publicly identified any update that took place during this time, but there are many of us who were hit on these dates before Panda #22 actually really occurred. Here is your graph:

00815c001a71ad0357f387eaa6aef35e

There is some other discussion about this going on here:

https://productforums.google.com/d/msg/webmasters/T-4i0yB7CrQ/4_j3cGmiCsEJ

This seems to be mainly due to (thanks WMW) Panda 21.5 (referring to the 17-18th nov '12 'quiet update' that primarily hurt us UGC/Forum folk who mostly benefitted from panda in general).

So my opinion is you are in the same boat as us, proprotionally you have lost around the same amount of traffic as us and others that were hit on this day. Our theory is that medium quality content was targeted on this unofficial update. Medium quality to me means: content that is useful and isn't thin, but not absolutely fantastic either. While Daniweb has all sorts of fantastic content, unfortunately since much is user generated, you also have a large number of posts that I believe would fall in the medium quality zone just like on our UGC sites.

Hope that helps, would love to have another voice to make this update more known. I believe if enough of us talk about this "quiet update", maybe it will be come more well known and something can actually happen from the result of that.

Votes + Comments
Thanks for the info! I think you're right
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Hi,

Thanks so much for the follow-up. It seems like you really are right. So, what does that mean when it comes to recovery? It's one thing to figure out how to recover from Panda (at least you know what you're dealing with) but it's a different animal altogether when you don't even know what you're up against.

If this algorithm targets medium quality UGC content, is it still a sitewide penalty just like Panda or page specific?? I assume sites like Stack Overflow came out well from it because their moderators / site regulars correct grammar and spelling in all posts, while we don't.

One of the things that we did do after we were hit, however, was have our entire moderation team go back and fix incorrect BBCode (mostly people who didn't use code tags or didn't know how to use bbcode correctly) on some 80,000 posts dating back the past ten years.

Our Markdown system with our current editor works great now (since its inception in March 2012) but, before that, vBulletin's BBCode editor was really hard on us and created lots of malformed posts that moderators just never bothered correcting, didn't get around to, or didn't notice.

That big project of ours has been long done now, and in our opinion, dramatically increased the quality of our content, especially our older content on the site.

Aside from that, I'm pretty much at a loss as to what to do. No wonder I don't seem to fit the profile for Panda (high percentage of recurring visitors, etc.)

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Oh I also want to point out that since we switched to the new platform March 2012, botspam has been pretty much nonexistant, so we wouldn't have been flagged for anything like that.

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I just checked out my Google Analytics, and was definitely hit on November 20th.

The following chart shows organic traffic from Google according to GA:

Thursday, November 1, 2012      203,283
Friday, November 2, 2012        186,100
Saturday, November 3, 2012      127,011

Sunday, November 4, 2012        142,923
Monday, November 5, 2012        227,949
Tuesday, November 6, 2012       231,544
Wednesday, November 7, 2012     231,648
Thursday, November 8, 2012      227,734
Friday, November 9, 2012        190,319
Saturday, November 10, 2012     122,422

Sunday, November 11, 2012       132,945
Monday, November 12, 2012       206,983
Tuesday, November 13, 2012      201,124
Wednesday, November 14, 2012    212,668
Thursday, November 15, 2012     214,137
Friday, November 16, 2012       193,040
Saturday, November 17, 2012     130,437

Sunday, November 18, 2012       143,161
Monday, November 19, 2012       235,835
Tuesday, November 20, 2012      159,678
Wednesday, November 21, 2012    151,278
Thursday, November 22, 2012     135,386
Friday, November 23, 2012       122,599
Saturday, November 24, 2012     88,102

Sunday, November 25, 2012       99,062
Monday, November 26, 2012       165,182
Tuesday, November 27, 2012      168,637
Wednesday, November 28, 2012    167,635
Thursday, November 29, 2012     161,752
Friday, November 30, 2012       138,969

You can see from the chart above that November 17/18 (a weekend) we actually had more organic traffic than the previous weekend. November 19th was a super high peak for us, and then November 20th was suddenly like a 30% drop off average for that day.

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I just filtered for US traffic only and it's defiitely in line with the global numbers: hit November 20th.

Edited by Dani: Typo

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So it sounds like you were affected still before the start of Panda #22, but seems like you were affected on the later edge of that ghost update. You really should participate in this thread since you also run a UGC website being hurt:

https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/webmasters/T-4i0yB7CrQ/M7mngz551hgJ

JonhMu has already responded, and the thread seems to be gaining a bit of attention. I think with you posting there it might grab some more positive attention since you were a poster child for being affected once before. I really think your site, my site, and some of these other UCG type websites are in a different group that were affected. I don't feel we fit in with the regular types of sites that were affected by Penguin and Panda.

It would at least be nice to get an answer to what is going on if anything.

Edited by Bigwebmaster

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Hey, I'm the guy who started the thread there. Please do join in; take a moment to skim it first (it's very lengthy, i've 'tried' to do my best to keep it on topic.)

If you want an answer from Google (like so many of us do) this might be the chance you've been looking for.

Cheers,
Frank (hitchhiker)

Btw: Your site is awesome, congrats. Our traffic was 180k, hit down to 130k per day on nov 17th. We're calling it the 'Panda 21.5 Ghost Update' :)

Edited by hitchhiker

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Thank you for the kudos
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It's rather long and I'm very late to the game, so please give me a little bit of time to read it. I'll try to later tonight.

I've been really hesitant posting on Google Groups after my long saga when we were originally hit by Panda, and then the second mini-saga a few months later. We were hit and recovered twice before, and I was getting the feeling that a lot of people were sick of hearing my story. I didn't want to sound like I was whining saying "It's us again with the same problem yet again!". At that point, what advice could anyone really give that they didn't already??

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Hey,

Yeah thanks for jumping in. I've been fighting the cause there for a few days. I should have chimed in when you originally got hit; I guess I was just too focused on my own problems at the time.

You didn't have any support and took the brunt of the 'you are just complaining / it's because you have a cat picture on page 123,653' vibe yourself. It seems clear now that while you and I and others have things we need to change, they don't explain the devastating reductions we've experienced.

I would suggest you speak openly on my original thread also, as in: Now that you took all the advice, read all the 'you must change this' comments, do you really believe the penalisation you experienced seemed appropriate as far as your quality level was concerned. You made great changes, and your site is better for it. You turned it around, but do you believe it made sense for the internet that daniweb was hit so hard? I think a lot of us saw that as a red flag, I personally believe something went wrong with the 21.5 update.

I'm basically trying to get google to 'confirm' they are happy with the index set on 21.5.

Cheers,
Frank.

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Hi HappyGeek, thanks for writting the article and bringing more attention to this issue.

I would point out that a few us there believe this isn't about quality or content or anything we've actually 'missed'. There are always issues, we can always fix them. This feels more like 'colateral' damage.

The suggestions I was given by Mueller, and the others summed up to basically 'de-indexing' a few 'pointless page types' - like user profiles, tags, some various 'here and there stuff' common to forum sites. Since they generate zero traffic, there's no point keeping them in the index if G despises them so much.

This is a multi billion dollar algorithm; I expected them to be able to determine the difference between spam, and pages of little interest. So: Ignore YES, 'punish' really?

The people who benefit most from the minutia of SEO, are the spammers. They don't have to waste time with curation, they love SEO forums, and have plenty of throwaway sites to experiment with.

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hitchhiker, you may wish to do what we do here at DaniWeb with regards to member profiles.

We have over a million members, so I can see that google might regard that as a million pages of thin content. But I don't want to just noindex all of them, because a good portion of our regular members are proud of their DaniWeb profiles and want them to show up when people google for their name, much the way Facebook and Twitter profiles might come up when googling yourself. So what we do is we noindex any member profile for a person with fewer than 5 posts. It takes care of the one-offs and the profile spammers.

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Thanks Dani,

As you wrote in your groups post (didnt want to reply and cause it to be buried) I'm also focused on our actual community, I gave up SEO 6 or 7 years ago. The blocking of those pages was just a sacrifice, more ritualistic than anything else. I don't believe that was the reason we suffered our loss, I don't believe it helps the internet become less 'spammy'. But I won't ignore John's advice, he has more info than us out here.

Re: 5+ filter - Yeah that's a nice idea, I'll increase the level a bit. Our users don't seem to care about their exposure (non-tech audience). Your audience is likely much more aware of the importance of that exposure. I'll allow >1000 (that will limit it to our more frequent folk with higher churn)

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I'm glad it wasnt just me, on November 17th my forum lost around 40% of it's traffic from 420,000 visits per day to 260,000. I've spent so many hours trying to figure out why and reverse it but so far nothing has worked.

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Did you suspect that it was Panda or something else?

See, for me, it happened on the 20th, so I was pretty convinced it was Panda. Until now.

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I did some hunting around at the time and found this which lead be to believe it was pre Panda 22, nobody really discussed it and I was left feeling around in the dark until I came across your's and Hitchhickers posts this morning.

I've just started adding noindex tags to the thin content sections and will watch your threads over at google for more suggestions.

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I don't necessarily think that will help anymore (although I've implemented some of it) Be careful, other senior webmasters are saying it caused significant declines. I'm trying to contact Google directly through a friend. The product forums are a complete mess.

g'luck!

Edited by hitchhiker

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Yeah I dont either as Dani was already doing it when hit and after seeing the attached I'm convinced we have the same problem. 9899bccba641eb5d927b09166f3a39f8

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I'm not going to post in the product forums anymore. Dani - You're way calmer than I would be, the amount of repetition you must have had to go through is mind-boggling.

I have collected enough information to at least form a clear pattern here. The Nov 16/17/18 21.5 update has nothing to do with 'quality'

I can't tell what it hit yet, but it might just simply be 'targeting a new idea of textual relevance'. The way it does that most likely overlooked the unqiue way UGC Q&A communities work.

The whole issue (in your case) was probably compounded by a couple of traditional panda-esque things you needed done. On their own you may have lost a bit, but not as much as you did.

In S.O's case, most likely as engineers they were on that site a lot and modelled the algo around them somewhat - PURE speculation, but it's what I may have done too. S.O is a great site / great format for tech - but nobody deserves to be the only great site.

Edited by hitchhiker

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@Dani - they're hitting you with that 'india' thing a lot - you might want to point out Stack is 23% india.. They clearly don't realise how important India is in the developing world market.

Edited by hitchhiker

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I completely agree with you hitchhiker. Also, it is very painful posting in those Google forums. First I hate the interface Google uses, the forum interface sucks there, and the users for the most part seem like trolls. Nobody even wants to entertain someoen elses idea, they are very closed minded. They talk about all this advice they offer, blah blah, and while some of it is good, most of them will still continue to find some sort of trivial thing that they say is the reason for all of the disaster that has struck you. Much of the advice I think is given by users who have no idea what they are talking about. Any website owner who posts there is always automatically categorized as being in the same group as everyone else. Nobody ever actually has a good site, according to them. The problem is never on Google's end, because they are perfect.

I think the only hope there is that the messages we have posted are looked at by a Google employee and gets to the right person. Hopefully your contact with Google can help hitchiker. I still think this entire problem is something Google may have overlooked. I truly feel that this problem is not something we can't really fix on our end. I feel all of our websites offer something useful for our visitors, and I agree with Dani that it does seem like many of the ones who are penalized seem to have gone to great lengths to customize or stand out differently from the typical forum or UGC type website. It almost seems like we are miscategorized in the algorithm.

I have been quiet the last few days, but have been trying to keep up with everything posted.

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This may or may not be related to some of Google's algorithm changes in the last few years, but another thing I think is interesting is if you look at the Alexa charts for Google:

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/google.com

it seem like they are slowly losing market share according to that graph. They used to always be number 1 on Alexa, now it is Facebook. They are settling for #2 in terms of global traffic now.

Could it be that maybe, just maybe Google isn't ranking SERPs as well as they think they are? Could it be that maybe they are putting too many ads above the fold on popular searches now (what they told us not to do?). If I type "computers" in Google, the first half of the screen is ads.

Maybe some of this all plays a role into how much traffic we get. More ads, plus less people using Google search would be less traffic for websites. Just an observation, could be an incorrect one. I don't think this has anything to do with what happened in November for UGC sites, but just an interesting note.

Edited by Bigwebmaster

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Well, wow - to be honest I never quite thought of it like that. It doesn't explain the sudden drops that were reported, unless those coincide with the 'ad stuffing' format changes. If it did, pretty sure they wouldn't mention it to us :D

re: Google product forums; that is a terrible and sad place to post! Have you been following the threads on WMW?

Edited by hitchhiker

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Hitchhiker, thank you for your comments. It does get obnoxious that I feel like I have to keep repeating myself in that forum. And I totally agree with you that Google engineers themselves use SO, so they've modeled certain parts of the algorithm towards the way that SO does things.

I'm starting to feel more and more like we were misclassified during an algorithm meant to target UGC sites because we all have out-of-the-box designs.

And you're right about SO having just about the same amount of India traffic as I do. But it's a moot point: if they don't want to listen to reason, nothing I can do or say at this point.

I've been so caught up in the thread over there though that I haven't been following what's been going on at Webmaster World. Can you give me a summary? Not sure if I'll have time today to start investigating.

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So, on WW, there seems to be this thread and then the one where there is a debate going on as to whether the age of a domain name still plays as large a role as it used to.

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Hitchhiker, I have been following the threads on WMW.

I think it is safe to ignore the comments about India, while some struggle to speak English since it is their 2nd language, there are many very smart and tech savvy citizens in that country.

I have got the feeling over time that the age of a domain is becoming less a factor -- except if your domain is extremely new, that may be a factor in what sort of signal Google sees it as. I see absolutely no reason why Google would penalize websites for being old. You cannot make any correlation to quality based on that. I guarantee there are some great old websites, as well as horrible old websites. Age doesn't indicate where it falls.

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I don't think anyone believes that Google would penalize websites for being old. Rather, it used to be thought that Google gave a huge boost to sites that have been around a long time because they are considered more "authority" as opposed to fly-by-night. But with the trend nowadays towards everything being new and fresh and current (with social media and all), it's now speculation that Google is giving less of a boost to those sites. Losing their extra boost looks like a penalty but it's really not.

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Age doesn't indicate where it falls.

Absolutely, I don't think they intended that. Most likely one of the 'symptoms' of age got caught in their expansive spam signal-net (to some degree)

Here's some more of interest:

http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4582381.htm (blank sites making it into top results)
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4577728.htm (brands squeezing out SMEs, intelligent back and forth)
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4582387.htm (age correlation?)

However, from everything I've read so far what happened to us back in Nov was a 'bad move'. A fairly clearly 'broken' Google has emerged as they've over-powered some badly tuned signals.

According to every chat they have publically, it will not last! They want SMEs to survive.

We should focus our resources on one thing: Getting them to re-engage in open / efficient dialogue with webmasters.

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