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Google's Panda Update Hits the UK: Early Winners & Losers

Danny Goodwin
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Many websites in the UK today are feeling the impact of Google's Panda update, one day after it was officially rolled out to all English-language Google users. Much like the devastation unleashed on unsuspecting sites in the U.S. in February, today price comparison sites and many content sites (e.g., news, reviews, blogs) Google has deemed "shallow" have been hammered in the UK search results, according to preliminary data released today by Searchmetrics.

Searchmetrics bases their data on what they call an Organic Performance Index (OPI), which is calculated by looking at keyword search volume, position, and statistical value of traffic distribution. Their previous analysis in March analyzed data from 55 million domains, focusing on what they called "content farms" and "content heavy sites" sites.

This analysis looked at 300,000 domains and millions of short- and long-tail keywords between April 5 and 12.

Losers

Obviously, Google doesn't reveal the secrets of their algorithm or what they're looking for on a website beyond "high-quality content." So let's take a brief look at the top 10 sites most hurt in the UK search results (by Searchmetrics' percentages):

  1. pricedash.com (-99.77 percent). This is a discount code/coupon site where just about every link on their main page takes you off site, so it's almost acting more like a search engine than a website. I assume Google's algorithm can't see any actual PriceDash content on here. Also in just a couple minutes of exploring the website, I found several broken links.

  2. discountshoppinguk.co.uk (-99.26 percent). Another discount code/price comparison site. Big issue I see right off the bat here is that on many pages you click on there are either no current codes/deals or voucher codes are expired.

  3. webdevelopersnotes.com (-98.94 percent). This is a web programming tutorial site. This site could be suffering in part due to having too many ads "above the fold" on their content pages. Their meta description could also use some help.

  4. netvouchercodes.co.uk (-98.73 percent). Another discount/voucher site. This is probably another case of sending people off site, little original content, plus perhaps too much internal linking.

  5. pocket-lint.com (-98.72 percent). This is a gadget news and reviews site. Tech is a highly competitive industry, so I'm wondering if article length or lack of little original content may be the issue here (among the winners were tech giants TechCrunch and Mashable).

  6. killerstartups.com (-98.35 percent). A review site that promising reviews of "30+ startups per working day" in their description and 15 on their homepage. Some of the writing on this site is suspect, and it looks like this site has major scraping issues.

  7. wakoopa.com (-98.13 percent) This is a monitoring site the "creates digital DNA of today's consumers." Not much content to it and have a look at site:wakoopa.com for some repetition.

  8. aceshowbiz.com (-98.04 percent). This is a celebrity gossip site. Plenty of content here that this site is being outranked for elsewhere.

  9. everydaysale.co.uk (-97.83 percent). More voucher codes means more trouble in Google.

  10. electricpig.co.uk (-97.24 percent). Another gadget news website down.

SearchMetrics noted that ehow.co.uk and ehow.com have lost more than 50 percent in visibility -- whereas in the U.S. eHow made big gains thanks to Panda. One also has to wonder how Google's comparison site BeatThatQuote will rank once its penalty is up.

Here is the full list:

uk-panda-losers1.png
uk-panda-losers2.png

Winners

All Google results are a zero sum game, so there were also several winners, including Google-owned YouTube and Blogger. Searchmetrics reports these were the top 10 sites in the UK that gained the most from the Panda algorithm update:

  1. ebay.co.uk (+42.06 percent)
  2. techcrunch.com (+40.72 percent)
  3. national-lottery.co.uk (+39.50 percent)
  4. econsultancy.com (+37.09 percent)
  5. thisismoney.co.uk (30.13 percent)
  6. siteslike.com (+25.37 percent)
  7. mirror.co.uk (24.87 percent)
  8. blogspot.com (22.80 percent)
  9. mashable.com (22.61 percent)
  10. itv.com (22.38 percent)

Here is the full list:

uk-panda-winners.png

This is the first analysis we've seen so we'll be watching for more data is it becomes available.

Has this update helped or hurt you in the UK? Let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: Regarding pocket-lint, I asked Miranda Miller (@mirandam_ecomm) to have a quick look at the site. I watched her diagnose several issues on a website for a gentleman attending SES New York who had been crushed by Panda in the U.S. Here are four things she quickly spotted on pocket-lint as potential issues for getting flagged by Google's Panda algorithm:

  • Too much advertising: Banner ads, skyscrapers, plus AdSense on the home page. Back when Panda came out we learned trust was an issue, with Google specifically mentioning that human raters were asked questions such as "Does this site have excessive ads?"
  • Check for old, not so good content: Remember, Google said individual pages can bring down a site's overall score. While it isn't clear if that's the case here, this is something for the website's owner to look into -- and anyone running an old website with a lot of older/dated content.
  • Confusing navigation: Says Miller: "When I go to Cameras, I see there are over 4000 articles categorized by Most Read, Popular, Must Read, and Latest. I think they need to break it down into subcategories according to manufacturer. Imagine being a first-time visitor to the site and trying to find info on a specific camera model. There's a search bar, but they have to spell it out for Google."
  • Broken RSS feed: Latest news is broken. Google always says that it rewards sites that provide a good user experience. Anything broken could be viewed by Google as an indication of low quality.

Also, see "New Google Panda UK Stats: Article, Price Comparison Sites Slammed Hard," which has more data on Panda's impact on the UK from SISTRIX.


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