From our friends at FreewareGenius today, Samer writes about how a recent change to Google's search algorithm has hurt his site's rankings and traffic.
Google’s belligerent Panda: why the way Google does algorithm updates hurts small sites and gives larger sites an unfair advantage
Google’s last Panda 3.8 update which happened in late June 2012 took away two thirds of my traffic, reducing my readership to the same level it was more than 18 months ago, and making the site essentially unsustainable, a personal cash drain that cannot be maintained in the long run. Mind you, it is not that I disagree with their policy; however, the opaque way they go about it, treating good sites like spammers and changing the entire environment in which we have operated for years without notice, is damaging and unprofessional.
But, more to the point, this article argues that these unexpected, sudden changes in the environment have this unintended consequence: that they greatly harm small sites in particular, giving an unfair advantage to larger sites with more resources.
Here’s a quick table of contents:
Some history: this site and it’s SEO ‘Strategy’ prior to Panda 3.8
Damage control: our initial reaction to the fall from Google’s grace
Figuring it out: identifying the reason(s) for what happened
My relationship with Adsense
Recommendations: how they should have gone about this
Why this hurts small sites more than big ones: and is this really what Google wants?
A rant from me:
I have written many times about what I few is an inherently pernicious conflict of interest
at the core of Google's business model. While Google may be better behaved than many companies, I think they have mastered the art of sleight of hand, having figured out a way to get massive amounts of free publicity while wrapping their greedy tentacles into every corner of every area of the technology world with the single-minded goal of making it impossible for anyone to challenge their advertising delivery network or escape it's reach.
Google is a massive machine that rolls ever forward opaquely. Trying to scream up at the machine that they have done something that has hurt you risks only being caught under the wheels and crushed slowly.
Now, there is never going to be a perfectly "fair" search ranking algorithm -- it's simply not something with an objective definition. There is no way to make everyone happy. The problem from my standpoint is twofold: first that google is incentivized to do bad things to increase their profit -- and in fact does do bad things to increase their profit (and god help us if google profits or free publicity ever starts to drop because then google is going to start tossing their ethics out the window to please the stock holders); second is that google is too big to care -- if you are a small independent writer/coder/whatever, you simply have no one at google who you can get to care about problems you are having with any of their services.
In many ways Google is our new god -- it works in mysterious ways and it does what it wants, controlling the fate of a great many small writers and entrepreneurs. The successful man does not question why google does what it does -- he simply hires a team whose purpose is to play the game of making the google happy through whatever tricks and techniques the google seems to prefer at any given moment..