Skip to main content

The second wave of Google’s Panda

It’s back: We’re in the thick of Google’s second wave of its Panda update. And like the first time, it isn’t pretty. The king of search recently reissued the algorithm adjustments for expanded international reach and also included updates as a result of sites users were blocking. “Based on our testing,” the Google web master blog read, “we’ve found the algorithm is very accurate at detecting site quality.” Google also asserted that the second time around would be as severe, affecting about two percent of U.S. queries. Panda originally impacted 12-percent of U.S. searches.

While Google’s algorithm alterations haven’t been as brutal on a large-scale basis, there is no shortage of consequences resulting – and plenty that make just as little sense as the first time around.

Scraper sites persist

We all know the original purpose for Panda was to crackdown on content farms, which at least makes us feel like Google’s heart was in the right place. While Search Metrics recently reported notorious offender eHow had lost significant traffic (despite its protestations), there are far too many examples of the exact opposite. Regardless of any bias, upon searching “Thor movie review” our own review of the movie, which our writer saw at a press-only screening and published at midnight, is buried somewhere in Google’s no man’s land. However, this pops up on page four:

the rpf page four
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The RPF is a community and forum “dedicated to props, costumes, and models.” A member of the site posted a link to Gizmodo’s Thor review – the site itself has no such review and also appears in Google’s results before the actual Gizmodo review. HipHopDx also pops up on page four, and the corresponding article is a short write-up and video of Mc Hammer’s thoughts on the film. We also Googled a specific title – and Yahoo, which hosted our article on its own site–popped up ahead of the original article, something we’ve consistently seen not only with our content but many sites’. Using other search engines has not yielded these types of results.

yahoo-digital trends
Image used with permission by copyright holder

British invasion

Another anomaly is the amount of U.K. sites getting preference in U.S. searches. British and U.S. video games use different rating systems, so if you want a review of Portal 2, U.K. publication The Guardian is probably not going to be your best source, yet it shows up on page one. We’ve seen this with various video game reviews.

portal 2 uk
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When it comes to world news, there are various excellent, international sources: BBC, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, etc. But in some cases only publications based in your country will lead to the desired information.

The Google standards

Google head of search, Amit Singhal, recently revealed some questions webmasters should ask themselves, and while some of them make sense (i.e. “Would you trust the information presented in this article?”) some seem too objective to serve as universal guidelines (i.e. “Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?”).

There’s ample concern that Google’s control over search means that it gets to determine the answers to these questions, many of which can vary widely due to personal opinion. And some sites have questioned the fact that no Google-owned properties have been negatively impacted.

Making the issue even more frustrating is the response – or lack thereof – affected sites are getting. Google is notoriously pro-transparency, until it comes to its search algorithm. Obviously revealing every detail of these practices would result in website-SEO-madness, but various webmasters who have contacted Google asking how they can climb out of the dark hole of search they’ve been banished to have received little to no assistance. Of course there are exceptions, including Overlook, which recently announced Google has finally restored its former rankings.

But paranoia and concern aren’t quite relieved – and they shouldn’t be, considering the amount of control Google has over the world of search.

Editors' Recommendations

Molly McHugh
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before coming to Digital Trends, Molly worked as a freelance writer, occasional photographer, and general technical lackey…
Google just revealed what you found most fascinating in 2022
A Google search page for most popular movie of 2022 is shown falling into a vortex.

Google shared one of the most interesting end-of-year wrap-ups you'll read, revealing the searches that you, and everyone else in the U.S., found most fascinating in 2022.

Topping the list, the simple yet challenging five-letter, word-guessing game Wordle is the most searched-for term of the year. If you want to know more about how to play Wordle, check out our guide to satisfy all of those questions.

Read more
Google Chrome gets one of Microsoft Edge’s best features
Google Chrome has been updated with a new sidebar feature.

Google Chrome has announced new updates for its browser to make searching more effective without having to open a new tab or return to a previous page after inputting a new search.

The Chrome sidebar feature comes just months after Microsoft introduced a similar feature to its own browser, Edge.

Read more
Google’s new privacy tool lets you know if your personal info was leaked
A Google presenter announcing alerts for personal info.

Google has just announced the expansion of its upcoming privacy tool. Made to protect your personally identifiable information (PII) from being too easy to find, the "Results About You" tool was first announced in May 2022. It will soon begin rolling out to a wider audience, and once it's out, you'll be able to easily request the removal of your personal data.

Now, at Search On 22, Google shared that it will be expanding this tool with an additional useful feature -- the ability to set up alerts if, and when, your PII appears on the web.

Read more