Monday, October 24, 2011

October 14th Google Panda Update : The Fatal Blow

By midnight Saturday, October 14th 2011 - umpteens of thousands of website owners didn't know - or didn't know YET what had hit them. But something was terribly, terribly WRONG. Website traffic for many was off, WAAAAAAAAYYYYYY OFF, but no one was sure why...

Google twiddled the knobs on it's mindless Panda algo again. And I can personally attest to traffic losses nearly across the board of 40% or more to my sites just from this search ranking adjustments.

From my observation - this update wasn't primarily about sites being 'Punished' or Google 'Hating' their keywords or on and off-page metrics. (And I think it's unfortunate that far too many SEO's, bloggers and Social Media whores apply such human, emotional terms to purely mathematical algorithmic shifts..) What quickly stood out to me was it was more about what 'Trusted Authority Sites' got SHOVED UP TO THE SWEET SPOT. God bless good ol' consumptive consumerism cuz by golly, (and other greedy for Xmas profits retailers, so let's reward them): Apple, BestBuy, PC/Mac Mall, NewEgg, eBay and many others just floated up to the top of literally any commercially viable product query JUST LIKE THAT...

When the searcher's INTENT is shopping, Googles use of BRAND links and product images above the fold can decimate site traffic, even if you're in the Top 3 positions. This isn't new - nor unique to Panda - but as more and more products and categories are deemed worthy of these, expect your related site to be under a LOT more competition for eyeballs.

If you witnessed and suffered from the change this past week: STOP! Your instinct might be to scramble and start 'fixing', 'updating', 'de-over-optimizing', 'over-analyzing' silly notions like WHAT YOU DID WRONG TO BRING ON GOOG'S WRATH. And well, on some level -- there may be nothing you really CAN DO if you already were doing well somewhere on Page 1 of SERPS. You just got shoved down - or worse, shoved off onto Page 2 to temporarily make room for The Big Box Big Boys of Retail celebrating the blessed words of the Profit$. And you probably aren't going to (ahem) outrank them during Christmas anyways - cuz Google won't let you.

This Oct 14 Panda Slap was a TSUNAMI of pain to many, many product review and affiliate site owners. From what I'm reading across the forum-blog-o-sphere it's swift and deep. And even Google may be realizing it tweaked one of those Panda knobs a bit too far... for Search visitors who don't need, say, Amazon showing up as #1 result for EVERY product known to man... Trust me, we know how to find Amazon, BestBuy, WalMart when we need 'em.

Matt Cutts won't tell you: "Sorry, I RUINED your Christmas - and your website business." Cuz it's probably only temporary. Why I can already feel it -- That predictable 2012 Mid-January Google update that changes the rules and SERPS once again, that helps some and anguishes others. And so it goes.