Say Hello to Panda Update #24

evil panda

Evil Panda is Evil

Google rolled out another Panda update this week, making it update #24 since Panda first hit the SERPs in early 2011.

According to Google’s related tweet, the Panda refresh impacted approximately 1.2 percent of English language search queries.

You can see a handy timeline of all Panda updates on the Search Engine Land site.

Has Panda #24 impacted your site yet? Let us know in the comments.

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Google Gives the Gift of Panda for Xmas

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the web, people noticed their site traffic was at a low ebb.’

Yes, just in time for Christmas, Google has decided to rollout another Panda algorithm update, this one affecting 1.3% of search queries. According to Search Engine Land, this is the 23rd Panda update since the original Panda rolled out in February 2011.

You can see a handy timeline of all Panda updates on the Search Engine Land site.

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Can competitors harm your Google ranking?

My little tribute to the Beastie Boys

A client and I were Skyping this week and the topic inevitably turned to Google Penguin and the impending doom of link building *tactics*.

This particular client has been having issues with rogue affiliates setting up fake link networks in order to boost their sales for my client’s products. Despite repeated warnings and/or promises to clean up their act, some of these affiliates have continued using dodgy practices for years, managing somehow to avoid Panda, Panda II and even Panda III. But their house of cards came tumbling down with the implementation of Penguin and with it went over 30 percent of my client’s traffic.

The problem is that, ultimately, my client has NO CONTROL over the tactics used by persons linking to their site. If they spot dodgy tactics being used, my client can alert or even ban the offending affiliate, but what of all the affiliates spamming under the radar? And these are sites supposedly in favor of my client staying in business. Imagine if they were direct competitors? All the education in the world isn’t going to stop spammers using whatever tactics they can if they are rewarded for those tactics in cold hard cash. And who can blame them?

This is inherently the problem I have with Google at the moment. They still claim it isn’t possible for spammers to hurt innocent sites using SEO spam but guess what? There are many, many examples of exactly that happening. Heck, this guy is offering a $10,000 reward to find the persons responsible for link bombing his site. Do you think he’d offer cash if the issue wasn’t crippling his business? There are even public projects set up encouraging people to use SEO spam in order to influence the Google SERPs in a positive or negative way for political purposes. And what about super competitive industries like the PPCs – porn, pills and casinos? I can assure you that competitor sabotage is alive and well and flying business class.

Now I applaud that Google are concerned enough about the issue to roll out updates like Penguin to try and punish persons using obvious SEO spam. Comment spam is evil! they warn. Artificial backlinks are evil! they say. Use of these tactics is a violation of our guidelines! But then they say don’t fret if others build backlinks to your site. Don’t worry too much. Just concentrate on making your site the best that it can be.

Why oh why do they keep insisting that competitors can’t harm your site using those same methods? Asked the question, Can competitors harm your ranking?, this was Google’s reply:

Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.

I look at these posts and this is what I’m hearing:

“Don’t be evil. Don’t do this, this or this. Doesn’t matter if your competitor tries that, they can’t hurt you. Oh look at these naughty spammers ruining your SERPs. We’ve got an update to fix that. What? Your legitimate site was smacked down? Not our problem. Don’t be evil.”

Well Google may not want to admit it but here it is: Can competitors harm your Google ranking? You bet they can.




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Q and A: Do search engines announce when they make algorithm changes?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’ve been slowly teaching myself SEO for about 2 years now and I think I am finally getting quite good at it. The only time I find myself completely out of my depth is when big algorithm changes like Panda hit my client web sites and they lose ranking. Then I find myself clambering to work out what’s happened and how I can fix it.

I can usually claw things back a little bit, but my clients are understandably confused as to why the drops occur and why I wasn’t prepared for them.

Do search engines like Google announce when they are about to make algorithm changes or provide a list of tweaks and fixes like software companies do after a new version is released?



Hi Galen

It’s not in the interests of search engines like Google to reveal full details of their algorithm adjustments, as this would not only impact the security of their servers, but also affect their shareholder price! Search engines need to keep vital parts of their technical infrastructure private as they form a large chunk of intellectual property. Apart from that, they need to protect the quality of the search results from hackers and black-hat SEO operators who would seek to compromise them for their own benefit.

That said, Google DO provide a monthly blog post on algorithm changes called the Search Quality Highlights Series. The first post in the series was published shortly after the Panda II algorithm tweaks were made last November (which caused a fresh round of frustration and confusion for webmasters). The latest post in the series was made earlier this month and features detail of 17 new quality improvements made to Google’s algorithm in January 2012.

The blog series is part of Google’s ongoing effort to be more transparent about how search works and to share the methodology and process behind their search ranking, evaluation and algorithmic changes.

I’m not sure if other major search engines offer a similar algorithm news service, but if anyone knows of any, please post in the comments.


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