Blog Post

Panda - Farmer Update: The gift that keeps on giving


I've been writing about Google's Panda Update (also called the Farmer Update) for a few months now (see here). And the interest in this update from our SEO reseller community has been strong. Officially launched around February 24th of this year, this is one of hundreds of algorithm tweaks Google will implement in any given year. After all, Google's search quality is at the heart of their business model. The better their search results, the more users they have on a daily basis. More eyeballs means more revenue in an advertising business model. So you bet they take quality in their massive search index VERY VERY seriously. If you read their K-1's you will see this issue mentioned.

Unlike the minor tweaks they make all the time, the Panda / Farmer update was a MAJOR update, impacting an estimated 12% of Google's search results. We've seen updates of these magnitudes in years past - though there weren't any in 2010. The panda update seemed to be geared at spammy websites with low quality content, particularly those that scrape. While there was a media frenzy around the farmer update, with wild speculation that this was Google's attempt to take Demand Media down a few notches - that turned out to be conjecture as most of Demand Media's properties (including eHow.com) actually moved up the rankings as the clutter was removed.

Still this morning there was coverage of this two-month-old update. See this piece on NPR. As usual, they hype up the story to make it really engaging. They emphasize the risks and put the fear in every small business website owner who depends on the Internet for their livelihood. But is all this voodoo scariness really necessary? It has many members of our SEO reseller program on-edge, worried for their customers and their businesses.

Did Panda Impact HubShout.com?

With so many websites publicly sharing data on the winners and losers from the Farmer update, you can easily do your own analysis on your own website. There are many tools out there that will help you dig through the pre / post data. We, of course, use the same tools we give our SEO reseller clients. And here is the graph from our HubShout home page:

As you can see, the Panda Update was a great source of traffic for HubShout. In the top graph, the blue represents non-paid organic traffic, shown as a percentage of overall traffic to the website. Notice that our overall organic search engine traffic (blue bar) spiked right at 3/1/11. Also notice, perhaps more importantly, in the bottom graph, that our non-branded organic traffic showed a MASSIVE spike at 3/1/11 also. For those resellers who are not familiar with the term "non-branded organic traffic," you should watch our webinar and learn how our SEO reseller portal calculates that statistic for you automatically. In a nutshell, it's all organic search engine traffic (non-paided) that does not include any form of your company name. Chad wrote a great piece on this over at DailySEOTips a few weeks ago.

Conclusions

I'm sure the phone will continue to ring as the mainstream media continues to be fascinated with Google's latest algorithm update. And that is just fine with us here at HubShout. As the data above shows, this update favors REAL companies with a REAL presence and commitment to high-quality content for their visitors. Furthermore, it confirms once again that you CAN be aggressive with your web marketing and link building, as long as you follow Google's rules: Unique content. High-quality content. No spinning. No spamming. You know the drill. The members of our SEO reseller program know it well - which is why they should actually welcome the Farmer / Panda Update as it will only serve to help their customers in the same fashion that it has helped HubShout's reseller program.