Google’s Panda Algorithm Update: How Did It Affect Your Site?

What Happened?

On Wednesday the 23rd of February, 2011, Google struck a huge blow to content farms and spammers all over the internet.  What was this news breaking update and how did it affect some of the most known article directories on the internet?  I’m so glad you asked…

Google Panda

Spam for breakfast? Really?

The algorithm update (aka Panda) basically dropped what Google perceives as “content farms” to the bottom of the list for the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages).  The term “content farm” is well known in the SEO industry as a web site or directory that archives’ thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of articles.  Most of the better article directories (non-content farms) require a few things to accept any new article;

 They usually require an author to register with the site

They usually only accept articles from registered users

They usually only accept “original” content (being an original article or work that is not posted anywhere else on the internet including Blogs).

They usually require a mandatory and manual review of every piece submitted for publication

They require a quality check for spelling, grammar and typos (thank goodness this blog does not require that LOL)!

They usually require a 7-10 period to review all of this

If this process works as it is supposed to, then everyone wins.  The author gets published at a reputable site, gets a link back to their site from this reputable site, the directory gets fresh new content on a regular basis and their customers get to use that content in newsletters, blogs, and news related sites.

“When Article Directories and authors do it right…EVERYONE wins!”

So what a “content farm” does is exactly opposite of the above.  They accept articles from anyone, they generally have no review process, no QA process, no credibility checks, no unique content checks….they basically accept anything and everything submitted to them and post it immediately.  You might be asking yourself at this point….So What Mike?  Who cares?  Well, if you have been doing your homework and studying SEO you know that links back to your site are considered a “VOTE” by Google from one site to another.  The more votes you have the higher you go in the rankings.  So by these “content farms” allowing ANYONE to post an article with a link back to any site with no overview, quality check or human review process, I think you can see what happened. 

“Google had no choice.  The SERP’s were cluttered with Spam or non-relevant search results.  By taking the action of de-valuing the content farm links, they have effectively removed the spammy sites from the SERP’s.”

That’s right, the spammers and even some legitimate SEO’s found these sites and exploited them to an extent that Google finally did something about it.  Now, I am not saying that they are done yet.  Google still has a long way to go to clean up the search engine results, but at least this shows that they are working on it and have not just given up.

What if my site dropped due to this change?

If your site dropped out of the first page of the SERP’s on or shortly after The 23rd of February, then you probably fell victim to this update.  If you have an SEO firm under contract, you may want to give them a call and ask them about their link-building strategy.  Chances are pretty high they were rolling a lot of content for you to some of these sites and now all of these back links to your site don’t mean a whole lot to your SEO program.  In other words, all of the back links (or Votes) to your site are pretty much worthless.

“the only way to ever protect yourself against search engine swings and algorithm changes is to diversify your link building campaigns.  It is pretty rare that Google changes more than one or maybe two specific values during an update.  Diversification in your link building portfolio will prevent huge swings like this.”

So…the sites hit hard by this update have some work to do.  Try not to worry too much if you were hit.  You can get back to your previous rankings.  It will take some time and some effort, but you can get back.  Remember to diversify and also remember…there are NO easy roads in SEO.  It always takes work.  The easy way may work for a brief period, but then something like this happens and reminds us all that we are not the ones in control and if we want results, we have to follow the rules…the Google rules!

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  1. J. Lewbowski

    WOW…I had no idea “content farms” even existed Mike.

    Thanks for sharing this though, I’ll now know what to ask about if we ever need an SEO firm!

  2. Hi J. (or should I call you “his dudeness”?),

    Content farms have been around for a while and most of us who have been doing this a while knew they would be drop kicked sooner or later. Thanks for reading and the comment.

    P.S. – Wonder how many people will get the dudeness comment?

  3. I get it but that may be my least favorite movie… Thanks for getting me started off on the right foot with the link building. It is tempting to build links the easy way, by just doing that one thing but I see now that leaves me vulnerable to that one thing becoming unpopular.

  4. @Ken – LOL…they picked the name, not me ! And you hit the nail on the head….the key is to have a link building campaign that appears natural and authentic and to that means to have links built from many on line sources.

  5. Hi You All I read the information you shared here and I wanted to say you guys need to continue to add more content. It’s really interesting to me and I will be back. I will post with my blogging friends. Keep it rolling!

  6. I like this site because so much useful information on here :D.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Good post, well put together. Thanks. I will be back soon to check for updates. Cheers

  8. @Kacie – Thank you so much for reading and the very kind words!

    @Logitech – Hey there. Thanks for reading. Be sure to check back often for new posts and updates!

  9. Burton Haynes

    I was recommended this web site by my cousin. You’re incredible! Thanks!

  10. @Burton – Thank you for the comment and kind words!

  11. Matt Pluvoise

    Respect to op , some wonderful information .

  12. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one today..

  13. Cool writing work, thx for your effort.

  14. Only wanna tell that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this.

  15. Dom

    This is kinda stuff I was looking for. You’re one of 37 of my favorite internet places now :P.

  16. I did have a site that was number one on Google and then died a quick death over 3 days. It started on April 5th. Is this this result of the Panda update?

  17. Hi droid – The Panda update came up in late February. If your site was not affected within a week of that update, I would say your case is probably not a Panda update casualty. However, it could still be the root cause of your site falling off in the rankings. First try to determine if you have duplicate content anywhere on the internet (or your site). If you can’t find any, then chances are it was something else that caused your drop in the rankings.

  18. this work is totally Wicked and fantastic !! Congrat !!!

  19. Mike, the last para of your article was very encouraging. Thank you so much.

  20. GOA – Thanks for reading and the kind words in your comment.

  21. is there way to find if it effect my site?

    • The best way to know for sure is if your web site ranking dropped after an update.

  22. I would like to appreciate your efforts that bring really nice work and also engage all people here to take opportunity for share their views

  23. Fantastic site you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Appreciate it!

  24. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.


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