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Archive for October, 2011

Is October 26 the day of Panda 2.6 update?

Are we in the middle of the Panda 2.6 update? Ironically, today is October 26.

‘Cause I’m seeing right now a huge improvement on one website that was quite severely penalized by Panda 2.5.

The only change that I made on it was to improve the bounce rate, as I was counselling here (yup, with some simple design tricks anyone can improve this parameter). Before the Panda 2.5 the bounce rate was constantly around 85%, now it is constantly around 75%. Of course, by improving the bounce rate automatically I improved the page views stats, too.

Now, since this morning, I’m seeing on this website some 25-30% extra traffic, which is very encouraging. In fact, taking into account that Panda updates are coming approximately once per month, it is about time for Google to rollout the Panda 2.6 update.

In the next hours and days we’ll find out more about this.

Google Panda 2.5: how to recover?

Trying to find out some valuable advice regarding the recovery after Panda 2.5, one will find a lot of bullshit advices on the lot of blogs of the so-called SEO experts: have quality content, don’t spam Google, don’t enter in spammy link schemes etc.

The usual bullshit. Blah blah.

Unfortunately, the Panda update is much more difficult to deal with, because, as I said here, Google started to consider into its algorithm some usage factors that normally aren’t under the webmaster’s direct influence. Technically, to recover from Panda you should:

  • try to keep the users more time on your website; try to engage them somehow (maybe with movies?… online games?… p%rn pictures?…);
  • try to make the users to visualise more pages; more page-views / user is better (you should split the content into several sub-pages – I know this sounds totally anti-Panda 1.0, but it seems that Google now has a different view than 1 year ago);
  • try to make the user to return to your website several times after the initial visit coming from a search; with every search visit, Google places cookies in the user’s browser and then tracks the returning rate, which then uses as an indicator of a website’s value;
  • try to lower the bounce-rate.

Don’t forget: Google has a lot of usage tracking mechanisms. Analytics, Chrome browser, search cookies, social media sharing monitoring etc. … you really can’t trick Google into thinking that your website is more beloved by the users than it really does.

Good luck with your Panda 2.5 recovery!

Google Panda Update 2.5: my explanation

Some webmasters (me included) were hit by a latest Panda update, which has the code name “Panda Update 2.5″. This update come out of nowhere on September 28th, and for me it was clear that it was (yet) another Google update, but I needed some days in order to guess the factors that were triggering this update.

Well, after carefully reading a lot of personal experiences and industry reports (such as this one from SearchMetrics) I think that I’ve found a pattern of the affected websites, and this is usability-related.

More affected were the following websites:

  • websites with a low pageviews per user average;
  • websites with a high bounce rate;
  • websites with a short time-on-site metrics.

More favoured were the following websites:

  • websites with a high number of pageviews;
  • websites with low bounce rate;
  • websites with nice time-on-site metrics.

If you scan the Alexa data related to the websites listed by SearchMetrics blog, you can see that the affected websites are all struggling with these parameters: bounce rate, pageviews per user and time-on-site, while the most favoured websites are displaying, all, strong data. However, some losers display good numbers.

For example ActressArchives.com is cited with 62% positions loss after Panda 2.5. In Alexa, the usage parameters are quite good: ~6 pageviews per user, ~50% bounce rate and ~29 minutes on site. This is much better than PerezHilton.com or TMZ.com, but PerezHilton has a very nice bounce rate: 39%. And PerezHilton is cited on the winners’ list. So, it seems that the bounce rate was the essential metrics to be taking into account.

[However, I suspect that Alexa's data on ActressArchives.com are erroneous. On Google AdPlanner they are much different: 3,9 pageviews per user and only 3 minutes time on site.]

If confirmed, it is a clear sign that Google started to melt the search data with data gathered from its other products: Analytics, Chrome, Plus etc. Since not all the webmasters are using Google Analytics, I suspect that the Chrome browser’s usage statistics are the main factor that triggered this Panda 2.5 update. But I am also sure that Google will release very soon an update to this update, simply because it’s quite stupid to link the relevance of a search with the users’ behaviour. That’s why we are seeing now a lot of excellent, unique websites that are hit by this … failed Panda Update 2.5, so don’t despair. I’m very confident that the Panda 2.6 update will come in 3-4 weeks and will repair the damage.