Panda Changed My Life: The Party Is Over

Mar 2, 2012 • 8:39 am | comments (25) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under

Google Panda RumorsWe know how hard the Google Panda update has hit some site owners.

As much as 87% are still suffering from the Panda update, 10% of you lost your jobs and many more are afraid to, tons of owners let people go and people even lost their homes.

Panda along with the recession and housing slump has not been fun for many.

I spotted this WebmasterWorld thread with someone who was a top top AdSense publisher, with a staff and a great life. His site was hit by Panda and his life changed forever. His story is both sad, uplifting and a bit scary.

Here it is:

A year ago this past Sunday my worst nightmares were realized. (No, not really, my family still has their health and I still have my dignity, but otherwise, yeah.)

I'm surprised no one has written about this. I had hoped to sooner, but I haven't had the time to do the topic justice. This is my feeble attempt.

I started 2011 by telling my family that I had read that Google had announced that they were working on weeding out 'content farms'. I told them that when Google announces they have a great new technology to add to their search algorithm, rarely does it end in website owners being happy, no matter how legitimate their websites are.

Sure enough, on Feb. 26th, 2011 at 6:30 pm CST the traffic on my 10 year old site started into nosedive. Within a week, I had given notice to all of my 10 employees that they were about to lose their jobs. The only ones left were me and my wife.

Within 3 months, my wife took a job working for someone else. After months of hoping that we had seen the bottom, one early October day I decided to find a regular job myself.

I'm now working full-time for the guy who hosts my website. I do love my job, and I'm learning new technologies at a rate I thought I was too old to learn at (I'm now 45 years old.)

My life has settled down from the roller coaster ride that I've been on since AdSense was introduced in 2004. I've been featured as a Google success story numerous times, been to the 'plex a half-dozen times as an honored guest, but that wasn't enough to maintain the ride of a lifetime.

After nearly 4 months, on Feb. 1st, my benefits kicked in at my new job. I now have legitimate health insurance for the first time in 9 years. I also get 3 weeks of vacation per year and a funds-matched 401k. I sure sleep better at night, now.

My two oldest kids are working to help pay for their college education. Not really a bad thing. Google has paid for a lot of toys, a house and some great vacations over the years. The party's over now.

There is more to the story, plus a lot of discussion around it.

For more on Panda, see our Panda category.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Ionut Popa (JP)

03/02/2012 01:52 pm

I like that things worked out fine in the end, but also I hate to see that someone with a completely legitimate website (he went to Google on a visit several time...) can be hit by what we all know is an algorithm change to make us spend more on Adwords.  This happens because right now Internet = Google + Facebook. And I don't know just yet how to make money with Facebook....

Jon Wade

03/02/2012 01:57 pm

For what its worth Google invited me to their office too, and I was also hit by Panda. But I managed to recover. It is possible. My site was almost 5 years old and it took me 10 months to finally fix (most) of the problems). I am still living on a knife edge though, waiting for the next update to send me spiralling down again!

Kai Spriestersbach

03/02/2012 02:11 pm

I have recovered within 3 month and now provide panda recovery consulting myself :)


03/02/2012 03:05 pm

honestly you guys, you are building your life on sand, Google is a public traded corporation and only interested in maximizing their own profits and positions, they will use anybody and everybody to do that (the historical facts show that) everyone will get thrown under the bus in time, it may be good business on your part to use them while you can but any savvy biz adviser would recommend you always have 2 or 3 other revenue streams in process so you don't get hurt too bad when the day comes for you.  Isn't the real problem with the corp system paradigm where the CEO's answer to the board and the board to the shareholders and all they care about is making a bigger return - not how they got that return - it creates all kinds of uncertainty, disloyalty, unethical to criminal behaviors and human anguish - someday we might grow up and move to a better system based on the dignity of all humans labor, their equality of value and worth to the society system as a whole - it may be couple hundred years and lots of greed, wars, pain and grief later after the whole thing hits rock bottom ... I always admired the underlying Star Trek model where everyone contributed with their identified best skills and shared as equals in the advancement of the group.

Jonathan Morales

03/02/2012 03:57 pm

That really is a sad story but glad it all worked out.....Google is definitely about fresh content these days and my websites haven't really been hurt by 4th year old forum site went from 7k visits in January of 2011 to over 30k visits by December 2011 and continues to grow. I've also started 4 other sites since then and they are all seeing an upward curve. I'm definitely late to the adsense market but hopefully in a few years, it will become the back-bone funder for my other entrepreneur ideas. I wish you all the best of luck and I hope it turns around for anyone that was hit hard! Remember Fresh Content is key, lots of it and if you "SEO" it in a read-able manner, you are golden!

Tauseef Muhammad

03/02/2012 04:02 pm

I got hit big time last year after Panda First update. It took me 10 months to recover and now last week, I got hit again. This is completely insane. You work on something for that long and overnight you disappear from search. There got to be some reason. No clue what to do. My site is 

Mark South

03/02/2012 04:48 pm

I Remember using the rustybrick Site many many years back  (think it was to check my SE rankings)  It is a shame to see so much power with each decision... I hope they are able to make sure to think things through thoroughly Before making changes.  (I saw about a 90 percent reduction in ad revenue)

Jacob Puhl

03/02/2012 05:05 pm

@    Nazhiker Amen Brother  Situations like this are all the same. Savvy business owners learn to exploit inefficiencies in a system and the smartest are able to profit, sometimes handsomely. More power to them - heck yeah. See: real estate boom as mentioned, stock market plummets, day trading, etc. The key is to KNOW the whole time that it's temporary and save, save, save and diversify risk, diversify risk & diversify risk. Thus is life. The end is very sad, but during it, elation. Unfortunately the same situation will likely happen again in the next boom whatever that may be. Or... FORTUNATELY for the savvy...

Herold A

03/02/2012 06:17 pm

The biggest mistake is trusting or listening to frauds like Matt Cutts, Amit Singhal, Susan Moskwa and other snake oil salesman; they are not on your side. I look at Matt Cutts and I think Bernie Maddoff in every sense of the way. Seems like a folksy nice guy that's on your side while he's ripping you off. Google hacked people's computers to serve more ad$, imagine the manipulation that goes on with SERPs by degenerates like Amit Singhal. When you get the chance, look at his face during an interview and you see how bad of a liar he is. Matt Cutts is a pathological liar, thus shows less emotions when he lies, as lying is the normal state. Having seen them speak live twice, it's very obvious to me. Google is squeezing out everyone, newspapers, webmasters, domainers, advertisers and everyone else to increase their earnings. Never forget: Google's business model is to get sites to advertise and to get users to click on ads. That's why Panda was a success for their bottom line and horrible for site owners.


03/02/2012 06:18 pm

 Tauseef ... first check out what w3 has to say about your code, without a solid clean code foundation you will not know how to interpret other signals and issues you have some sort of major issue with your head and body tags, your site: returns well so you are being indexed and even get the section listings with google so they have not removed you


03/03/2012 12:55 am

The guy had ten employees, was at the top of Adsense for 9 years and had to go back to a real job. Obviously he managed his money well.

Steve Johnson

03/03/2012 03:38 am

"Stagnancy" is death.  Any one who believes that what ever he or she has achieved will not change is path to disaster. One needs to be innovative (keep changing) if wants to be always in the race.


03/04/2012 06:51 pm

I wish I could say that Bing is providing better results than Google. It doesn't. Both SE are very poor. Any search engine including Google doesn't have the ability to recognize  quality content.

Webstats Art

03/04/2012 08:04 pm

Ok I must admit I lost a ton of money on Panda but I never trusted Google anyway so I prepared for it way before it happened. Google cannot be trusted because they never started off with quality content. Google know nothing about creativity, quality, art or music. They are a just a bunch of black hat seo geeks who managed to put a website scraper together and a searchable database for it. It just goes to show that you can become a billionaire if you copy other people's material first and put it on a website. That is what Google have done and when you get very popular you can squish other people who are trying to do the same as you. Haha! The moral of the story is that copying is extremely profitable but just make sure you condemn everyone else who copies later on and try to look as innocent as possible.

Webstats Art

03/04/2012 08:11 pm

Google is and will always be a scraper site.

Nathaniel Bailey

03/05/2012 09:17 am

He exploited google adsense and now that google have noticed his site and other sites like it are not the most relevant sites to display he has lost rankings to sites that serve better content, thats what the Panda update is all about because google wants to rank the right sites, not those that just slap up rubbish to earn money. I feel for the guy and those in the same situation, but if your not going to give the best site you can for what people look for why should you be listed on google, or any other SE for that fact? My comments may come across a bit harsh, but the web is full of people trying to making a living, and those that do the better job deserve to win and rank well over those that clearly dont!

Jon Wade

03/05/2012 09:43 am

Really there are 2 considerations if you have been affected by Panda: 1. If you ranked well before you can rank well again - you have the SEO backing, you just need to fix the content. 2. It is an automated penalty based on the content of the pages on your website. Fix those pages and you remove the penalty. It is my belief that many of those that do not recover their sites from Panda just need to take a very long, hard and critical look at their website. If that means listing every single URL / page title  and going through each page with a fine toothed comb, so be it.  Don't blame Google, Google is still returning A LOT of good sites, really good sites. Any suggestion that Google is doing anything other than improving the quality of search results is really a sign that people are living in denial. It does go a little beyond "good content", you have to look at the bigger picture really. But recovery is possible in most cases, I think!

Scott Boyd

03/05/2012 11:00 am

 Your issue is the way the site is produced - lot's of overlapping content and duplication.  See: You have 1k pages indexed, which I assume are mostly product pages.  That's over a thousand pages with content about stickers. Personally, I think that's way too much.  I'd consider reducing it to a selection of key pages that cover the main product types and offer different options on the page (types, sizes, etc) rather than a single page for each.


03/06/2012 05:42 am

Sounds logical. I agree. However,  there is no machine in the world including Google that can differentiate between good sites and bad sites. It is just that Google engineers "think" they know where the quality content is placed. And the problem is that we, good webmasters, are on the mercy hands of this SE.

Jon Wade

03/06/2012 08:53 am

I partly disagree with this. Bad sites give of various signals that are easy to spot, and it is these that the Panda updates are looking at. Yes, some good sites get caught up, and yes, some really bad sites are not caught, but then that just means you need to ask the question - what is Google doing to move some sites into the bad pile and keep some on the good pile? It is not rocket science. The main signal IMO is duplication - not exact duplication like tag pages and category pages having the same content (they already had this issue before Panda) but similar content that may only be there to try to win more keyword searches. Remember, Google employs a lot of people who have been working in and researching AI - their systems can pretty much think like a user now (in terms of searching for websites).

seo expert india

03/15/2012 04:56 pm

Google panda has messed up all the way for almost 35% of results in Index. Even apple and amazone were affected from it.

SEO Orange County

03/18/2012 11:37 am

Panda makes me angry sometimes- I feel like some of my sites are great and offer a lot yet were hit by it.

Raymond Nester

05/10/2012 01:25 am

Never use "consistency and Google " in the same sentence, these two young men are psycho freaks for profits, they're destroying their own company. They could care less about you little people. Never rely on 1 company to make your business profitable, Google is a cut throat, company that has broken the law many times. Make your own traffic elsewhere, on a reliable source. I can't find "anything" in Google that it has forced me to search with other search engines, they're returning "crap" on page one. Hope they lose major search traffic, and I believe they have already dropped -Google is unreliable.


06/02/2012 09:40 am

But he's not a "success story" -- he's a lucky bastard that just happened to luck out and make a transition. Tell this shit story to the hundreds/thousands of people that lost their jobs and have to go on welfare or sell cars now. For the rest of us: Google destroyed companies in a single blow. Period. They did as much to damage an already destroyed economy without blinking an eye (start American Heartland Music). What do they care. They'll still make their (b)millions whether my little site lives or dies. But my little site paid my rent and my partner's rent, and his wife's, and his new born son. Google destroys lives. I'm not being dramatic. Lives have been cut because of one dramatic drop in serp rankings. Thanks Google. Thanks for looking out for the little guy. You'll always be king in my book (the sarcasm is literally killing me).


06/02/2012 09:45 am

Bullshit. I see at least 5 sites ranked above mine that are obvious spam and worthless. My site has real value -- real content that I wrote myself on real topics that really matter. Those sites above me have none. Some even have ripped-off content from other sites. I checked. Google cast too wide a net and devalued sites that had true value and raised sites that don't matter to anyone. Just do a search for "panda recovery" -- your top results are for "Pandora file recovery." If you're still telling me Google has an accurate algo when they can't even list an obviously relevant term, then you're living in denial.

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