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BizReport : Search Marketing : April 13, 2011

Is Google's Panda update harming your bottom line?

Just a few weeks ago, Google updated their algorithm to better protect businesses from Black Hat SEM practices. The plan was to block these bad results from appearing on users' search query returns, but there is some collateral damage being felt. In some cases legitimate businesses are now falling in the rankings because of the change.

by Kristina Knight

These Black Hat practices include using a version of a brand's name to capitalize on traffic. According to Google the move was made to protect legitimate businesses from this type of fraud, but the move has also harmed some businesses. First released in the US, the changes now have a global basis and some interesting results are now out.

"We've performed an analysis with millions of different keywords in the short -and longtail of the impact of this update. We analyzed the top 100 domains with the greatest gains and losses in our Organic Performance Index (OPI) from the previous week. The OPI is calculated according to a keyword's search volume, position and the statistical value of traffic distribution," was written on the SearchMetrics blog.

Analysis from SearchMetrics finds that the 'Farmer Update', out in February 2011, has pushed some US brands down in the rankings, especially US companies which also have UK domains. According to the report between April 5 and 12, 2011, brands like and Shopzilla have seen their search rankings fall by more than 50%. More content-heavy hubs such as EHow also saw decreases of as much as 50%. The biggest loser has been which dropped 96% after the update went into effect.

There are winners for the change, as well. So far E-Bay is making out well thanks to the change with a 42% increase in visibility. Content hubs such as EConsultancy, TechCrunch and The Mirror have also seen significant gains in visibility since the change.

Tags: Farmer Update, Google, google algorithm, organic search, search engines, search marketing, SEM practices

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  • Panda update did nothing but help me. If you have a quality site with quality content that offers value to visitors then you will eventually see the benefits of the big bad panada.

  • EzineArticles took a huge hit when Panda first rolled out, and I read this morning that it took another hit when Panda went global. I'm interested to see if sites that were negatively affected when Panda first went into effect where hurt more or helped now that it has gone global.

  • Interesting times ahead. I'd love to have a deeper insight into Google's algorithms and the definition of 'Quality'.

    Too many companies now rely on SEO and there is a lot of money and jobs at stake. Perhaps a little prudence should be incorporated into their algorithms.

  • Great article, thanks for posting. We have not seen and significant difference in traffic or revenue from our clients listed on and Shopzilla, even though the analysis says rankings fell by 50%. Those websites are still valuable marketing channels that online retailers should engage.



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