A Precocious Panda

Stephen Yagielowicz

It’s a terrible feeling to check your traffic stats and notice an immediate, precipitous decline in your best source of visitors — yet it’s a common feeling among many adult webmasters today.

Google’s recent algorithm and policy updates, collectively known as “Panda,” are continuing to create a problematic level of tumult that is affecting website operators — devastating search engine rankings — and the resulting traffic those high rankings bring.

Its latest incarnation, Panda 2.2, is designed to tackle the increasing problem of original authorship and scraper sites.

Let’s explore this evolving situation and what (if anything) can be done about it.

Panda, which lowered rankings of “low-quality” websites, burst on the scene several months ago with an announcement by Google, and has been revised several times since. While the company claims that less than 12 percent of domestic U.S. search queries are affected by this update, the severity of many adult site’s organic traffic decline is reported to be up to 80 percent — a highly significant drop for already traffic-starved operators.

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are lowvalue add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful,” a Google rep stated. “At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites — sites with original content and information such as research, indepth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

While Google reportedly makes an average of 500 algorithm tweaks each year (more than once per day), Panda seems to be a different beast, aimed at redefining how sites are segregated by importance.

Its latest incarnation, Panda 2.2, is designed to tackle the increasing problem of original authorship and scraper sites — sites that republish other site’s content, often via RSS feeds or other automated mechanisms — sites that may rank much higher than those of the content’s originator. For example, an affiliate program offering FHGs via RSS may find that an affiliate ranks higher for their brand than they do. Panda seeks to correct this.

As for what can be done about it, Google offers advice on how webmasters can boost their site’s quality (googlewebmastercentral. 11/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality.html) — the key to Panda update recovery and improved rankings.

Beyond Google’s advice, the importance of traffic source diversification is evident — but the value of the company’s organic listing traffic is “free” and hard to beat.

Although some adult sites have seen recent rank corrections, raising devalued listings, others continue to see declines, underscoring the lack of predictability involved in Panda and its ongoing tweaks. One thing is certain: Google is keeping webmasters on their toes, improving the web.