Being Rescued From The Google Panda / Farmer Update

Mar 18, 2011 • 9:07 am | comments (30) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Panda Man RescueI feel like I have talked and written about the Google Farmer/Panda update way too much, but the truth is, about 40% of you were impacted by this update in a bad bad way and even though you are making changes none of you are really seeing any improvement in your rankings.

I have been monitoring the forums on a daily basis, looking for anyone claiming to have been rescued from the Farmer/Panda update. So far, not one person in the forums I track claimed they are back to seeing the same levels of traffic.

Only two publishers that I know of claimed they are back after being hit by Google's update. One is Cult Of Mac and the other is Digital Inspiration. Google's Matt Cutts specifically said Cult Of Mac was not impacted by the Farmer / Panda update because if they were, they would still not be ranking. So whatever hit Cult Of Mac, it was not this update and they are back in Google for other reasons.

But Digital Inspiration may be different. Amit Agarwal posted traffic data and what he did and when get started to see his rankings improve. It is just a bit shocking to see one site come out and no one else, especially since this is an algorithmic penalty.

But look at the stats he published:

click for full size

As you can see, the site's traffic is back to normal.

Why? Three possible reasons:

(1) Google updated the Farmer/Panda algorithm and other sites are coming out as well but just not reporting it yet.

(2) His site was not hit by the Farmer/Panda update but rather something else at the same time of this update. This is very possible.

(3) Google added a whitelist for the Farmer/Panda update and they were included.

I am not sure what to believe, but I am thinking it was number two - since I do not see any larger signs of other sites reporting being rescued yet.

Our ongoing coverage and stories on the Content Farmer/Panda update:

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help and WebmasterWorld.

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03/18/2011 02:26 pm

We made a ton of changes and "No Indexed" a ton of pages of user generated content (lower quality) on March 4. On March 11 we took another big SERP dive which we can only assume was a result of no indexing all those pages. Come on Google either you don't like thin content or you do, make up your mind!

Nick Stamoulis

03/18/2011 02:28 pm

I'd be interested to see more stats from sites that claim to have been adversely affected by the Panda update when they didn't deserve to be. Do these sites have something in common and that is why they were targeted? What kind of changes have they made to their site since the update? Maybe their traffic isn't back where it used to be, but is it on its way up?

Barry Schwartz

03/18/2011 02:30 pm

Yep, I hope to find more examples...


03/18/2011 02:52 pm

In my case we found about 20,000 pages of user generated content on our site that went unmoderated. About 1,000 pages were just the letter "A" over and over: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA A big no-no on our part. A programmer who left our project built a user content script and never past off his responsibilities. So 50% of our total site was garbage. Before when google use to rank at the page level, we did great. Then we got Pandalized and lost 50% of our traffic. To fix we blocked via robot.txt that directory. Also added "NoFollow,NoIndex" to all of those pages until we moderate it all. We did that exactly 2 weeks ago. We noticed on March 11th our traffic dropped a total of 70% of the map, probably because 50% were now invisible to Google. Even though most of that content is garbage. We are now moderating the user content about 15% of what is there is truly stellar stuff that is helpful for our users. We just have to clean up the remaining 85%.

Michael Martinez

03/18/2011 04:53 pm

"I am not sure what to believe, but I am thinking it was number two - since I do not see any larger signs of other sites reporting being rescued yet." Someone has to be first back into the playpen, Barry. I know of two other sites that may have recovered from Panda. I don't think these sites were all downgraded for the same reasons, so each of them will have to find their way home by their own means.


03/18/2011 05:51 pm

Barry, checking stats for and they also came back (universe Today admitted it). They made their case on Google forums so Google does whitelists sites, no matter how they label it.


03/18/2011 05:56 pm

M Martinez, you cannot name the people, I understand. But their ranking came long after the changed things ? I think Google has to index AND redo the site calculations, it's a lot more than an on page thing and google doesn't do it every day.

Michael Martinez

03/18/2011 06:56 pm

As I understand it, the rankings returned fairly quickly but each site is different. I'm starting to feel like people are overthinking the whole process.

Michael Martinez

03/18/2011 06:58 pm

" They made their case on Google forums so Google does whitelists sites, no matter how they label it." That type of conclusion is absolute nonsense. Just because someone posts on a Google forum and appears to recover from an algorithmic update DOES NOT mean that they got whitelisted. I've seen people posting these ridiculous conclusions elsewhere. This is NOT how you move the discussion forward. There is no clear and obvious reason for Google to have a Panda-specific exception list so to insist they must have one strips you of all credibility.


03/18/2011 07:45 pm

"There is no clear and obvious reason for Google to have a Panda-specific exception list so to insist they must have one strips you of all credibility. " Hmmmmm....Google this "Like other search engines (including Microsoft's Bing), we also use exception lists when specific algorithms inadvertently impact websites, and when we believe an exception list will significantly improve search quality. We don't keep a master list protecting certain sites from all changes to our algorithms. " Call it a different name but it does the same job


03/18/2011 07:48 pm

How fast can Google index and recalculate a decent size site? I know it depends on PR but... How fast did they come back? What's 'rather quickly' ;)


03/18/2011 11:55 pm

But Google is still denying there is a "whitelist" since supposedly the new algo still can't accept manual changes!

AJ Kohn

03/19/2011 03:04 am

I tend to think Digital Inspiration was either a) included in an exception list for Panda specifically or b) benefited from the algorithmic tweak that seems to have occurred on March 10-11. While Amit did detail some steps he took to recover, they didn't strike me as ones that would cause this type of response. But ... we are in somewhat uncharted waters. From working with a number of clients and speaking with others it looks like there was a fairly substantial update to Panda in the March 10-11 time frame. At first I thought it might be Earthquake/Tsunami related, but the traffic trends remained after the initial tragedy coverage waned. The other thing that is confusing is that some of those on reported 'loser' lists weren't actual losers. And a large number of losers aren't going to go public with that information. So we're left to look at self-reporting and mining toolsets of varying levels of confidence. Either way, I'm very glad to see Amit get his well-deserved traffic back. -- Search, it's never boring. --


03/19/2011 11:14 am

Many more sites are also hit by the Google changes just to make notice of it and they recover their reputation over Google again.

Michael Martinez

03/19/2011 04:17 pm

Rather quickly as in a matter of a few days.

Codrut Turcanu

03/20/2011 01:34 pm

as per today's post, I think this update is just going to scare the most of the guys out there who are in for short gains. What I've seen is that my rankings are low and high like on a roller coaster from day to day. Yesterday I was on #8 first page Google, today I'm on 11. And tomorrow I might be back on 8, 9, or whatever. It's the Google dance we have to be are of and accustomed with. No tricks, no gimmicks.


03/20/2011 07:07 pm

What makes me wondering is that Google says approx. 12 percent of search queries are affected. If that is the case why are 40 percent of pro´s/experts and the sites they take care off affected? Maybe a hint to have a bit less SEO in mind and more real value for human visitors? Rethinking strategy of how to accomplish long term value for clients? Or maybe did the other 60 percent who are not affected by Panda a better job? Or do the other 60 percent just not report in? Is it simply the way as in any other business, that many service providers are average by the very nature of average, some are above average, even fewer outstanding, some are worst than average and a very few worse than that. Or are the sites not affected just not SEOing?

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03/21/2011 07:54 am

Interesting Article Barry!! Seems that Digital Inspiration Not Hit by the Farmer Algorithm. Something Happens that DI lost his traffic for certain period of Time.. One think that i have noticed in Both Blogs you have mentioned in the Article that both have numbering after the end of their URLs will this main reason of losing Traffic?

SDP Labs

03/21/2011 11:12 am

With the changing method or algorithm, we need to do more quality work. It totally changes the method of working and analyzing. Companies have to maintain its position and give best to users.

Morris Rosenthal

03/27/2011 11:44 pm

Barry, I've been stepping out of my role as an interviewee for Panda stories and wrote one of my own: I included a video showing how Google is pushing copyright infringements for my most popular eBook, and I'm nt even sure that's a Panda thing:-) I'm happy you are continuing to cover the story, I know that Google could give a damn, but the major media outlets stopped publishing stories since it's no longer "news" so at least somebody is holding up a lantern. Morris Rosenthal

Barry Schwartz

03/28/2011 12:22 am

Thanks Morris!


03/28/2011 02:11 pm

I'd be surprised if it hasn't happened already as I've seen some strange movements of rankings for my clients in the last few days!


03/28/2011 11:31 pm

Also, as time passes and waters settle, it may be revealed that the Panda/Farmer update mostly only impacted sites that saw relatively high amounts of traffic already and/or had been authorities in their niche for a number of years. The algorithm seems to have not harmed many young or lower traffic-yielding sites' ranks. Once this algo update rolls into the UK, this will become more apparent as more market data will be assessed.

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03/30/2011 05:17 am

my site is 100% unique and content is good but , as many people got their keyword back on very far pages, my situation is a bit different. My site's main keyword was on 2nd page and it disappeared , and now its not even in top 1000...what can be my situation ? and what should i do ?


04/04/2011 07:15 am

Indeed nice info, I tried to explain myself kind of the same thing on and also to show them that the algorithm is different for, and I hope it helps if someone wants to read in another language.

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04/13/2011 04:01 am

none of my sites were droped Some of my competitors have dropped I am going to see if I can find them and see why the dropped I think google is filtering out the auto generated spam machines that create massive useless pages changing only a few words on each page to try to get listed for long tale keywords and filtering out more comment type spam links just think about what you would do if you were a google search engineer I bet one of the biggest parts of the change is devaluing comment links


04/17/2011 03:10 pm

If your business was hurt by Google's panda update, maybe you need to rethink your business model.


04/18/2011 08:37 am

First time an update has hurt me in 3 years since we produce high quality content, with organic link building but Panda has removed half the traffic to our travel guides, despite an expensive recent overhaul to take the quality up another level. Of the 7 sites, one took a hit when the US roll out began (though our traffic is universal), but seems to have recovered. Perhaps the new look to our sites is too aggressive on ads, though the number hasn't changed, they've just be positioned more inside the content. Most likely reason for our busiest site, on Bangkok, is that there is a fair amount of content on sex tourism, it's all original and useful but probably seen by google as inappropriate on a travel site (even though it's very relevant to a large chunk of tourists to that city). It's pulled the whole site down.


05/31/2011 11:10 pm

My main, biggest site improved in the February Panda update.  I was sailing right along then when April 12 came I lost 75% of my traffic AND my income.  Devastating to say the least.  My site had over 100 pages - all unique content written by me.  Very nichy topic. I contacted Google about it - they told me my site was "fine" - and that I was doing everything right.  The odd thing, the sites that knocked me off my number one spots are any better than mine, in fact most are more generalized, so that really confused me. My traffic at its height was over 4,000 visits a day - knocked back to 600-800 a day.  I did some tweaking on the pages, adding more content to it - linking it better.  Now it's up to 1100-1400 visits a day - but still no where near what it was.  And my income has not improved. 

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07/08/2011 12:19 pm

Thanks for the article, Barry. Those who have been hit should do something about it now.

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