How I Recovered from Google’s Panda Update – You Won’t Believe it!
A panda might by a a cute animal but for most people who have a website and get traffic from search or rather mostly from Google it’s worse than a zombie.
Websites hit by one of the numerous so called Panda updates lose often a large percentage of their visitors and in many cases the businesses who own such websites go bankrupt.
This blog here has been among the highest ranked SEO blogs for years until one day in November of 2011 Google penalized it.
It was during the Google Panda 2.8 update as far as I remember. This is not a real business blog I must admit. It’s rather a side-project just for fun. It doesn’t earn money directly.
I use it for testing and as a proof of concept. Thus I do not have time to care too much about it. I have to make money with client projects.
My Google Panda Update Story
After the Panda update hit I was convinced that it was a false positive! My blog was always high quality so from one day to another it wasn’t anymore? Nonsense.
Google changed its ranking algorithm and my blog was collateral damage. Completely new and spammy blogs have ranked well instead of mine.
I thought I will check for duplicate content and similar common SEO issues with Google and fix them. I did. Nothing happened!
My organic Google search traffic was still almost non-existent. I got mostly off topic visits from people wanting to steal my images or to leave manual comment spam on my blog.
Thus I decided not to waste my time with rebuilding my blog from scratch to please the new Google algorithm. You probably won’t believe what I did and what happened next.
An Eye for an Eye
Instead I decided to ban Google search altogether and to focus on my writing again, the people I really care about in the SEO community plus elsewhere on the Web.
I added a meta tag telling Google (and other search engines) not to index my blog at all. It was really liberating! My writing style improved significantly and I was much more enthusiastic about blogging again.
I didn’t have as much time as in the early days of my blog where it got hugely popular all over the world but I still managed to write two posts a week in most cases.
A year later I noticed my blog ranking again at #13 in Google.com for [seo blog].
It did show up on Google despite the noindex meta tag! I thought it was just a short hiccup but it wasn’t. Google indexed my blog again and ranked me on my old position for a day.
Many other people noticed it as as well. I did not as good from the US. There I was only at #23 but it was still better than the below top 100 I got when Panda hit me.
I was in the Google index anymore while writing this so do not check whether you can find me. The noindex meta tag worked again. I made a screen shot though.
What apparently happened was that the Google Panda penalty got lifted.
Why? There are a few possible reasons:
1. After numerous additional Panda updates they may have fixed their algo to root out false positives. That sounds logical but it’s difficult to find out as my site wasn’t indexed most of the time.
Thus we do not know when the actual change took place and whether a Panda update has been released at that time.
2. An embarrassed Google engineer finally looked up what happened and improved the algorithm to reinstate my authority. This is very unlikely.
I’m not an SEO VIP and I doubt that Google engineers care for my blog. I do not read their blogs either. I haven’t since 2007.
3. As I have written many postings and also engaged more on social media with my peers and beyond plus got a few topical and authority links along the way these new signals may have outweighed the negative Panda red flags.
It could be but I am not sure I got that many more shares and links than previously. I do not count them very meticulously.
The Irony of it All
What’s the point of this post then? This question probably: isn’t it ironic? Other people have spent months to please Google working on their sites for countless hours.
Why fix something that is not broken? I have used that time for actually blogging, hanging out with people online, and implementing old and new ideas I had.
For example I was able to finally declare my blog articles to be Creative Commons licensed.
Google does not allow to publish the same content on more than one URL. All the others get deleted from the index in the worst case as duplicates.
After a year I was back where I belonged in Google search, having the rankings I deserved, even when only my homepage got indexed.
Did I remove the “noindex” meta tag? Nope (I did 3 years later in 2015). I haven’t fully recovered from the days of Google enslavement yet. My headlines still sounded a bit over-optimized to please the Google overlords.
I still haven’t found the traffic sources that will allow me to become independent from the search monopolist. I didn’t have the time yet to optimize my blog for people.
My social media integration was not optimal, my blog themes wasn’t optimized for mobile use.
I still cater mainly to the relatively small SEO audience instead of the large ones I did in the early days. Google made me fat and lazy!
How to Detox Your Site
Like in real life I want to become fit and active again. Maybe then I will be strong enough to deal with the Google bully and be able to say “no” when he tries to force me change my site or writing style for him.
Google wants your content as their business model is to get it for free to put ads around it
They literally pose as a search engine while in reality they are just the biggest ad agency in the world. I hate ads like most people do. I blocked them.
Why should I give away my content for free to Google to pollute the space around it with their text ads?
My miraculous Panda recovery didn’t make me overtly happy. Maybe I am not thankful. After all almighty Google has forgiven me! Still I wanted to tell you about it.
Take note: it was just a glitch and my site vanished again from Google results a few days later. Yet this ironic experience was insightful nonetheless.
Letting go of your Google may result in the disappearance of the problems created by Google. To paraphrase Bob Marley: no Google no cry!
You can detox your site by removing access to Google bots anytime. Then the flow of creativity is unhindered again.
I have the same thoughts about Google and wondering why Google has no competition at all for now. I think that this situation will change and it’s already changing. And yes, I don’t like “big advertising agency” which is going too far in regulating what and how I should write in my blog while making money on my content.
I am still yet to recover from the panda issue. its sad because most of my visitors were from google, thus enabling me make sales for my products. I really do not understand why my rankings became so low, i know i do not have duplicate content. Infact, i do not understand google. But i guess, they think they are the LORDS! After my ban from Adsense, i had to look for alternative means of making money. Sad though, but i guess life goes on.
This is inspiring but oh so perplexing.
On your possible reasons for recovery, do you think the the de-indexing itself could have triggered some kind of algorithmic curiousity? Like an ex girlfriend wanting to know who you’re going out with now perhaps.
Scrapers have been outranking my 15 year old white hat content site after Panda so I’m thinking of following your lead… not sure if I have the nerve for it, though.
I thought about that possibility. It would imply alleged wrongdoing on my part though in my opinion. Something like “he was cheating us to get ranked higher” would be the case. Then the next step would be “he doesn’t want to get indexed at all so apparently he doesn’t want to manipulate the algo, let him back in”.
There is also a slight chance that I still had some duplicate content issues and once my content was off the radar I got judged solely by my domain authority or something. Still I’d expect to return immediately after removing myself from the index not several months later.
To me SEO was always about trail and error. Try it yourself and in case it really works it might be a pattern not sheer coincidence.
I had one site on the first page of Google for a while, until one day, the site was no longer found! I went to the 25th page and still my site was not there. I finally gave up searching and still to this day – wondering what I did wrong (if in fact it was my mistake).
Sure, I love Google with all of it’s products, but, hate them as well, if it was the dreadful Panda that killed my website.
[…] Ironically that brought back my ranking a few months later despite using “noindex”. You can read the story here. […]
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