Poll: Can Sites Fully Recover After Google Panda?

Sep 14, 2012 • 8:11 am | comments (13) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

recoveryIt has been a long time since Google unleashed Panda on webmasters, a year and a half long.

There were recoveries but were they full recoveries? One of the best examples and most vocal examples of a site hit by Panda that has been through up and downs is DaniWeb. We've covered and mentioned it from time to time. They have said they've recovered but honestly, they have not.

Dani came to the Google Webmaster Help forums to give us an update. She wrote:

Traffic has been increasing over the past few months, and even more over the past few weeks. We're not quite as high as we were at during our absolute peak post-Panda, but we definitely have fully recovered and have close to the most amount of traffic we've ever had before. Activity is also way up.

I do want to admit that I put the welcome modal back up non-registered members. We had it for many years until it was removed as one of the first things we did as part of our Panda recovery. However, it has always performed so well for us in terms of increasing conversions and lowering the bounce rate, so I decided to put it back.

After thinking about it for awhile, I realized that I've been running around with my head cut off trying to do exactly what Google wants from me, at the sacrifice of community growth, just to please them and get traffic from the SERPs. And what do I have to show for it? ... Unpredictable traffic from the SERPs that I can't rely on. Because I'm sacrificing community growth for increased traffic from the SERPs, that means that if G traffic were to disappear tomorrow, I'd have nothing. At least if I do what it takes to keep the community growing steady, then if we lose G traffic tomorrow, we'd still have a strong community. So that's what I've decided to do. And hopefully Google's algorithms will appreciate that our modal leads to community growth and is there for positive reasons ;)

Regardless, community growth is on the rise. Traffic is strong. Overall, no complaints. Hopefully the upcoming Penguin refresh won't make me changing my tune.

My question to the webmaster and SEO community is did you ever see a site hit with Panda not only fully recover but also get more traffic from Google after being hit by Panda? Take my poll:

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for plant

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Harry Has Hope

09/14/2012 01:53 pm

I am pretty sure our site has fully recovered, we were hit by Panda in April 2011 , and spent over 6 months completly rewriting the entire site. The panda issues that we had on our site was: 2000 + pages of auto generated content, very old, never used and forgotten 500 pages of thin content To fix: Removed the 2000 pages Re wrote the thin pages Updated a further 1200 pages with more content Added images , user comments etc to site Nothing happened and we thought recovery was impossible. In October we saw a mid-range recovery and a couple of weeks later what would appear we thought to be another panda hit. We kept working on the site but still nothing. In May 2012 we made a mistake in WMT and removed our site completely (we were removing some pages from index via WMT) and did a reconsideration request to say ask if the site could be re-indexed: Guess what, well the site came back in the index but the recon reply was that we had a inorganic link penalty, so somewhere in between panda and recovery we received a link penalty but no notice in WMT. We cleaned our links up big time, we think the issue stemmed from a big link exchange we did in 2007 . Some of the links we could not remove we let the page linked to 404. 3 Weeks later after submitting another recon request: Reconsideration request for xxxxxxx Manual spam action revoked :-) Then exactly 4 weeks to the day we had a full recovery in the serps, in fact better rankings than we have ever had. Now we are pretty much number one in our niche, a much better site than we had before and conversion is up 45% So , all in all Panda did a good job me thinks So, yes you can recover ! It would be pretty stupid if you cannot !


09/14/2012 02:28 pm

If what was getting you ranked was also what got you penalized post-Panda and you do nothing to change (i.e. completely rewriting pages and continuing to get links from related sites - preferably authority sites - and eliminating bad links that may have gotten you bitten by a certain Penguin we all know and love so well) no, you will never recover. "Harry Has Hope" shows that if you do the right things, you can recover. Most of the people who got hit hard by Panda were too lazy to write decent, compelling pages to begin with, so one can assume that people like that won't suddenly get a burst of energy and do the hard work to fix things. Therefore, it's no surprise that there are very few success stories. Thanks for sharing your success story, Harry. Now maybe some others can "have hope," too!


09/14/2012 04:31 pm

Your poll question confuses me. Do you mean "can you" or "did you" recover?


09/14/2012 05:03 pm

Hey, it's me, Dani :) You mention, "They have said they've recovered but honestly, they have not." We definitely, completely 150% recovered from Panda, and ended up with more traffic than we had going into it. Let's say we had 7 million pageviews/month pre-Panda, and just under 10 million pageviews/month immediately post-Panda. Completely unrelated to Panda/Penguin, this past March, we rolled out a brand new platform and our entire site navigational structure changed, and we were "sandboxed" for nearly 3 months to the day (back down to 7 million pageviews/month), so essentially we lost our post-Panda boost because all of the great tweaks I made that not only got us recovered, but also put us over the edge, were no longer present in the new system. I've been tweaking the new system and it's now climbing as well. Now we're at about 8.5 million pageviews/month. Still significantly more than we were pre-Panda. Second highest only because there was a couple month long timespan after Panda but immediately before the site makeover where we were at 10.

Codex Meridian

09/14/2012 05:22 pm

What you said Dani is inspiring. Let me you my story. Last year Sept2011, one of my major sites first suffered from Panda. I tweaked the site, add some more content, clean up, etc. then I noticed a big increase of traffic. In fact by April 2012, it peaked more than the pre-Panda. Then Penguin comes, my site lost 65% of the traffic and even got a lower traffic from the pre-Panda period. The traffic drop starts on April 26, 2012 I think, I believe this was Penguin and not Panda. What do you think? It's hard to believe if sites can recover from Panda as what the polls said and based on my experience. Right now, I'm running a Six Sigma project on this website targeting to improve the content quality, user experience, business processes, income, and other important measurable aspects of success. It's a serious one year project. I'll be optimistic as possible, there is always a light at the end of this dark tunnel.


09/14/2012 07:19 pm

Dani, I believe that some of your loss of traffic from your post-Panda recovery peak was because other sites were recovering.

Webstats Art

09/14/2012 07:26 pm

On the poll, most people have not recovered. My friend's best site has less than 1/3 of the traffic it used to get but he is making a ton of money on advertising because some of his clients are paying USD 250,000 a year for adwords in a very competitive space. He only charges the same clients between 5K and 25K a year. He lost his adsense account but does not care anymore because the advertisers can afford to pay a large amount of money for more exposure since adwords pricing has gone through the roof. He can thank the adsense price hikes which enabled him to raise his standard price list. My friend has made 10X more money from his own adverts. I thought some people might be interested to see how much some companies are willing to pay now. My friend does not care about losing traffic and getting penalized by google because the advertisers have loads of cash and now they are thinking twice about paying google and spending more on direct advertising.


09/14/2012 07:36 pm

My site was hit on April 11, 2011 because I had some reformatted IRS pages in a specific directory. After figuring out why my site was penalized, I deleted the directory 2 days later, after the penalty was implemented. Except for the IRS pages, I believe that my website would've excelled under the Panda algorithm, because most of the pages are quite lengthy and, except for the IRS pages, I wrote every article, so I know my own website intimately. I have read everything that I could about the Panda penalty, so I am certain that I was penalized only because of the IRS pages — not for anything else. Nonetheless, I have yet to recover. I did not violate any of Google's quality guidelines, and yet, I feel that I am paying a heavy penalty for the IRS pages, even though Panda-trusted sources are doing the same thing that I did, but, of course, they are not penalized because the Panda algorithm is not applied to them. It is clear to me that the Panda penalty is assessed for a specific amount of time and that a website cannot recover before that time has elapsed, regardless of what improvements have been made on the website. I have a amassed quite a bit of evidence about the Panda algorithm and how it works, and I have presented it on this page: http://goo.gl/b3bv5


09/14/2012 09:06 pm

No, it was a day-and-night difference the day we launched the new platform and forgot to do a handful of 301 redirects for some old URLs that had a lot of backlinks. We ended up with over 500,000 404 errors according to Google Webmaster Tools. Traffic slowly came back as soon as the mess was cleared up. It was totally my fault!!


09/18/2012 04:27 am

It is great to read people sharing their experiences with the Google updates. I have been fighting 5 months so far, since my site was infected with the Panda Virus (no update, Penguin and Panda are viruses for websites created by Google) with no sucsess. On Last April 19th and 24th Google hit hard, very hard.

Content Hut

09/18/2012 05:17 am

I guess yes, provided that they abide by Google Webmaster's Guidelines

Jon Wade

09/18/2012 09:52 pm

A site of mine fully recovered after the UK 11th April 2011 update. Did not recover until Feb 2012. Was doing great for a while, May was the best month so far, but has dropped a bit again - mostly due to better quality sites pushing me down though.

Nithin P

12/11/2012 02:09 pm

Hi I am Nithin Prakash from India. One of my client site got hit by Panda update while handle by an SEO company. After that they consult me. With in 4 months the site got better SERP, Now its better in position and more visitors than pervious month. Its completely rrecovered from Panda hit and now it use panda for more visitors.

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