More Panda Update Fallout

Are you sick of the Panda update yet? Not half as sick as sites and businesses that were negatively affected by Google’s algorithmic change. Many major, well-trafficked sites, such as those owned and operated by Demand Media, experienced a substantial dip in rankings because of “low quality” content, high ad to content ratios, or content that was “scraped” from other sites. But other sites were affected, as well; retailers, for instance, who rely on manufacturers’ product descriptions saw declines as well. You can add yet another group: sites that were the originators of content that was scraped by low quality sites.

Patrick Jordan, who runs is one of the small publishers who was targeted, albeit unintentionally, by the Panda Update. Organic traffic dropped off significantly because, as Google told him, the content on his site was all over the web. It was, therefore, copied or duplicate content. The problem is, though, Jordan himself was the originator of the content. Other sites had “borrowed” it from him – and then ranked higher in the SERPs.

The Panda Update, formerly the Farmer Update, was intended to penalise sites that rely on content from low-quality content farms, those that copy content, and those that are ad-heavy. The problem, though, is that sites like Jordan’s have been caught in the crossfire. The change was designed to improve the quality of search results, but how is that possible when scraper sites consistently rank higher than those who originated the material?

What is Google’s answer for publishers like Patrick Jordan? The search engine often refers upset bloggers and website owners to a Google blog post entitled, “More Guidance on Building High Quality Sites.” This gives good advice for sites that actually do have content problems and need to rework their sites. For those who have solid content that has been stolen, though, there is nothing to grasp to and no help from the search giant and its “scientific” algorithm. What makes it even more frustrating for publishers like Jordan is that scraper sites can profit via Google Adwords while their own original sites suffer from lack of traffic.

What should publishers like Jordan do? Keep complaining – and maybe start looking more closely at Bing, Blekko, and social media avenues for generating and driving traffic.

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