With very noble intentions in mind Google decided to introduce an update called as the Panda Update to its search algorithm. The idea was very clear, to penalize content farms and scraper sites and improve search results.
For those who don’t know, a scraper site is a website that copies all or part of its content from other blogs or websites. This could be done by manual copy-pasting, using RSS feeds and displaying its feed content on its own or any other web scrapping technique. The objective is clear – encash the content generated by others, manipulate search engine rankings, increase traffic and earn advertising revenue.
Unfortunately something seems to have gone wrong somewhere.
Panda punished the wrong people!
The Google Panda Update broke many a genuine bloggers hearts … and backs too! They found that within a matter of a short time, their carefully cultivated Google search traffic, had come crashing down.
There are several reports on the Internet showing how, in many cases, scraper sites are in fact actually performing better now. We too had earlier blogged on how a blogspot blog who displayed our RSS feed on his site ranked higher than our site.
What in effect has happened is that in several cases many good quality websites and blogs started ranking lower in Google’s search results.
Here let me give you our own example. A particular website syndicates and scraps content from The Windows Club. We are the original content generator and yet it ranks higher than us on Google.com!
Original content on our site:
Syndicated or scrapped content on the other site:
Search results at Google.com.
Google has been rolling out minor updates to Panda and labelling them as improvements. While Google is calling them improvements, I am sure that they are in effect fixes to try to fix these anomalies. The latest update rolled out is Panda 2.4.
While Google may not want to acknowledge it, maybe they have realized that something has gone wrong somewhere and they are trying to fix it.
Google is now seeking help from all to find out what, if anything, did go wrong! It is inviting people to point out examples where scraper sites are ranking higher than the original content sites and urging all to report here.
Google is testing algorithmic changes for scraper sites (especially blog scrapers). We are asking for examples, and may use data you submit to test and improve our algorithms.
If your website or blog has been affected adversely by the Panda Update, you might want to check out some of these generally-good-housekeeping tips to try to recover from the Panda Update.
To a layman like me, who is by default a Google Search user, it sure looks like Google goofed up things a bit and the Panda Update has botched up its search results to a degree. While a common user may not realize the changes, the discerning user will surely realize that something is amiss.
While TWC was ranking pretty decent pre-Panda, today we rank lower than the sites which scrap or syndicate our content. Although we believe our content is good, we also understand and respect Google’s prerogative in forming their own opinion of our site.
But it is sometimes really scary when you realize all your work or its recognition or exposure depends on just one private search engine who is free to create its own search algorithm. Google may not be evil, but they sure can make mistakes. And for whatever little my opinion is worth, I think Google made a mistake with the Panda Update.
UPDATE: 16th Sept 2011 One more example of how another scrapper site who is displaying our RSS feed is ranking higher than our content!
We can only hope that Google fixes and improves upon its search algorithm soon. A lot is at stake here…for all…including Google!