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Google's Panda Update: A Look at the Upside

Updated on July 21, 2011

Original Intentions?

There's a lot of noise going on about Google's latest Panda update, which was "quietly" launched earlier this year. As a result of this latest algorithmic change, many sites saw a drastic drop in traffic as well as rankings. By all accounts it appears that Google made these changes in an attempt to "reduce rankings for low-quality sites", and to clean up some of the mess of scraper sites (websites that republish other people's content on their own site, usually making money from Google Adsense in the process). Frank Watson, an SEO guru of sorts, states that "Google created the mechanism that clogs its own data centers and overwhelms its own spam centers". In short, this latest update seems to be Google's way of cleaning out the clutter.

Problem is, there was a lot of collateral damage to many sites that were not among these so-called scraper sites. Even though Google claimed that only 11.8% of U.S. queries were impacted by the update, it was enough to do big damage (organic traffic losses of up to 80% were reported) to many unsuspecting online business owners, webmasters and SEOs. On the flip-side, the update was supposed to improve rankings for quality sites, thereby rewarding those with good, original content and eliminating the WannaBe's in one fell swoop. Whether or not Google's intentions were successful remains to be seen (at this point, anyway).

23 Questions?

Google's head of search, Arnit Singhal, published a blog on Google Webmaster Central, offering a bit of advice for any who cared enough to keep their rankings in good stead (with Google). He suggested you "should ask yourself and consider (these questions) when trying to understand why a site was impacted by this update". Writers who post on HubPages (or anywhere else, for that matter) will benefit from perusing this article. While some of the questions are more directly posed for webmasters and site owners, there are many others that can impact us (writers) as well. It is likely the good folks who run the HubPages show are well aware of these things already. But for those who are not SEO savvy (like me), it is well worth the time to learn more. Unless, of course, you care nothing about honing your craft and gaining a larger audience.

If, however, you are among those who aspire to make a name for yourself as a quality writer, and you plan on using the internet toward that end, it makes sense that you would learn from those who understand the dynamics of this ever-changing platform. On the internet, nothing stays the same for very long. So we either keep up or get spit out. Not a pretty analogy, but true nonetheless.

The Impact on Writers

I would not have learned what I've learned over the past weeks had it not been for the HubPages team. I am in no way an SEO expert, nor do I have any desire to be. But I am eager to learn (always!) about things I know little about that may affect my own aspirations; among them, my ability to expand my audience and hone my craft (skills). So, as I was reading and learning and reading some more, the thought occurred to me that while the fiscal impact of Google's antics have very little affect on me (at the moment, anyway), the affects of Panda on the overall quality of sites does, indeed, affect me.

The "how" of all that is as much about my work ethic as it is my endless desire to be better, to write better, to grow as a writer and a human being. For all the various sites I've written on/for over the past 4 years, many of them were tossed precisely because of the poor quality of the other writers. In other words, I did not want to be in a place where my work would be compared to the work of people who were so obviously not writers. The poor grammar, the appalling misuse of the language, the mindless garbage that was published on some of those sites was enough to make me consider not writing on the net altogether. Happily, I'm not easily dissuaded. My thirst for knowledge, along with my tenacity, led me to better sites with better content.

Back to the Upside

I now have a clearer understanding of why sites like do what they do. At first, it annoyed me that they took so long publishing my articles. But soon enough, I figured out why. The result of their very persnickety procedures is high quality articles with high rankings across the board. They didn't get there by accident. Those people are downright tyrannical when it comes to the editing process. But it's proven to be of great benefit to me because ofthat fact. They simply do not allow garbage on their site. That, in many ways, is precisely what Google was shooting for in the first place.

I believe that there is great value in weeding out the junk. Call me arrogant, but I see no value to the site or the writers when badly written articles are allowed to be published in the name of quantity. And it would appear that Google feels the same way about such sites. I may not know all that much about search engine optimization or why Google does what it does, but I do know quality (writers) when I see them. HubPages would do well to use this latest update to its advantage. And so would those of us who actually have a work ethic. If the work is good, and the site maintains its own integrity, the impact of these latest changes will, in the end, benefit all of us. So I shall leave you with this:

Don't waste time or energy on how Google works or why they do what they do. Instead, use that energy to hone your craft. Check your work. Stay true to your passion(s). If you don't care enough to review and edit your work, it is quite likely that the readers you're fishing for aren't going to take the bait anyway. So why bother?


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    • rembrandz profile image

      Remy Francis 6 years ago from Creative Zone Dubai

      Hey there camsolivia

      Thank you very much for sharing your wise insights. I am not a pro in SEOs and the Google world as far as revenues from it is concerned as a writer. As a relatively new-writer and a new member on Adsense...this was a great Hub for me to learn more.

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great links and a great common sense message to all writers. No one wants to read advertising copy any more than we like commercials so there has to be something on that web page that makes reading any of it worthwhile.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      An excellent point you make about writing for the reader and keeping SEO in the right perspective. Water after all eventually finds its level- occasionally with a little help- just fine. Why shouldn't a decent Hub. Thanks for the write and reminder.

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

      this is all so true, while my hubs didn't suffer too much over time I have learned to pull my own weeds, which has made a huge difference in my own hubs and websites.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this needful explication of what's going on with Google Panda and how this affects our Page Views. I enjoyed your excellent, enlightening article.

    • profile image

      fashion 6 years ago

      Great hub with lots of useful information.. I also agree with everything you've said here.Great work.

    • danfresnourban profile image

      danfresnourban 6 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Great insight. The key take away is to write content that you you would like to read. Panda changed the game. Now the most important tip about search engine optimization is do not write for search engines, write for the reader.

      Google is using bounce rates (how many people click around your site) and view duration (how long a viewer stays on your page) to determine how relevant your page is.

      Great hub

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Good info, thanks.


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Your hub makes a lot of sense. Cream will always rise to the top eventually no matter how much the natural milk from the cow is shaken.

    • camsolivia profile image

      Camille Olivia Strate 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      Thank you ALL! Yes, the whole point of this Hub was to encourage "real" writers to focus on their writing, NOT the antics of any search engines, etc. Glad ya'll found it useful. For my part, it's a whole new world (SEO stuff) and I don't much care. I do enough of my own promoting (of articles) and wouldn't think of "blaming" anyone or anything for a loss in readership. Like I's about passion...and quality. Write on, my beautiful, creative friends!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub with lots of useful info and links. I agree with everything you've said here. Change is never easy, but it is a fact of life and it's best to keep learning and growing rather than moaning! Rated up, useful, interesting and awesome.

    • wychic profile image

      Rebecca Mikulin 6 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Thanks for the hub! The link to the questions is quite helpful, I'm afraid I might have been swamped if I'd gone into the search engine myself looking for more panda information. No real surprises for me there, but it is good to know that they're really putting a stress on quality. I will admit that myself and my husband/editor have been privately cursing the "big bad panda" since the update, but now we've been so happy with the sub-domain traffic that we're telling people we know on other sites who left because of panda to come back :P. I love the emphasis on quality (I wouldn't publish my content if I didn't think it was quality), and I love that they're continuing to hone the mechanisms for actually finding quality wherever it happens to be.

    • profile image

      Ghost32 6 years ago

      Well, this was interesting. In one sense, I've never ever had a problem with Google in that a more than reasonable percentage of my "stuff" has always hit a logical--or even better than logical--position on their pages. Yes, there was a roughly 70% drop in AdSense earnings (but not traffic) after joining the HP ad program, but the HP income more than made up the difference, so what did I care?

      Not much! :)

      Only tonight did I even read about the subdomain thing, via a Team email. Having switched literally hours ago, no comment on any difference from THAT yet. Duh.

      What I learn about these things (Google Pandas or rare Snow Leopards or what on Earth ever) I learn mostly by accident. Hone my craft? Sure. But for the reader, not for the algorithm. If Algo decides she likes my rhythm, that will be a good thing.

      If not...(*yawn*).

      Great Hub, though. Voted Up and a bunch of buttons.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Thanks for including a link to those questions. It is refreshing to read someone writing about this topic from both sides of the issue. As someone who joined Hubpages Post-Panda, I am getting a bit tired of *some*-not all are-hubbers blaming the staff for their drop in traffic. as I pointed out in the forum, if it really is the staff's fault, then everyone should be doing badly even after the subdomain switch. And that simply isn't true.

    • camsolivia profile image

      Camille Olivia Strate 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      Thanks for your read and commentary, "heart". It's one of my faves (the sign); serves as a reminder that not all weeds are "bad" many other things we perceive in such judgement. P.S. Not nearly as hard (to "get rid of them") as you think. Perspective is key.

    • heart4theword profile image

      heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

      Love the sign:) I guess a person could have all the weeds they want, and even the ones they don't seems, we have a hard time getting rid of them!