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Posts Tagged ‘google’

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.

Google changes its algorithm – and teaches you how to harm your competitors

I have read today an interesting post from Techcrunch commenting on a recent Google algorithm change. This change was, indeed, announced yesterday on the Google’s official blog: Being bad for your customers is bad for business.

In short,  Google’s engineers have read a story from New York Times that raised some (good) questions: knowing that link popularity is the basis of the Google’s algorithm, is it fair to rank high a website that has a lot of negative reviews?

That’s why they have decided to  perform a sentiment analysis and to position websites according to these results. So, now it’s more difficult to position a website that only enjoys negative reviews.

Unfortunately, in my opinion this approach – sentiment analysis – opens  largely the door to the most unorthodox tactics for search positions manipulation. In fact, to unfair competition.

One of  Google’s most respected principles was that “there’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.” According to the official Google Help Guide,

Can competitors harm ranking?
There’s almost nothing a competitor can do 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.
[source]”

But now, if Google’s takes into consideration the so-called sentiment analysis, it’s clear that anyone wishing to destroy your website can make it very easily, just by posting some negative reviews on review websites.  Let’s look at this page featuring reviews for DecorMyEyes, the online shop that triggered Google’s reaction: it’s really full of negative reviews! And this page too! And this page! The reviews for DecorMyEyes.com are really awful, but, by commenting on this issue, Google simply showed to everyone the way of harming the competition.

I think that we’ll experience in the next months a growing demand for SEO’ers specialized in reviews writing :) !