Google Panda – How Many Actually Recover?

Dan Sharp

Posted 5 February, 2013 by in SEO

Google Panda – How Many Actually Recover?

The original Google Panda algorithm was introduced on the 23rd of February 2011 on Google.com to reduce the visibility of ‘low quality’ sites with content identified to be a poor user experience, thin and often partially duplicated in nature. The Google Panda algorithm was then pushed out to all English language users on the 11th of April, which of course included Google UK.

google panda

Marcus Tober, founder of Search Metrics covered the full list of Panda losers (that link will be followed when they clean up the followed comment spam on the page :P) from the update over on their blog on the 14th of April. If you haven’t heard of Search Metrics, it’s a fantastic tool for gauging organic visibility of a site and landscape.

Example of a well known site hit by Panda with the now standard way of viewing it via Search Metrics –

google-panda

As we are not far from two years down the line after the original release, we wanted to run an updated analysis of the losers to see how many have actually recovered and to what extent on average in reality. You can find our analysis below in the embedded Google docs spread sheet –

A few things to note, before we dig into the data –

  • The original Search Metrics analysis used their old OPI score to measure visibility. After speaking directly with them, we had to update the original metrics from their post (both pre and post Panda) to their current SEO visibility metric, so we are obviously comparing like for like.
  • The column headings in bold are those that we have added as part of our analysis.
  • I am not convinced play.com or passport.net were hit by Google Panda.
  • Moneypage.com is the only website we couldn’t get current SEO visibility data for (as it’s dead).

So What Does The Analysis Above Tell Us?

  • Just 7 sites out of the 98 have experienced 100% recovery (or more) which represents just 7.14%. If you remove passport.net and play.com completely, this would be 6 out of 96 (6.25%).
  • 12 sites out of 98 analysed have recovered 70% of their original visibility (or more) which represents just 12.24%. If you remove passport.net and play.com completely, this would be 10 out of 96 (10.42%).
  • 82 sites out of 98 analysed have under half of their original visibility (or less) which represents a massive 83.67%. If you remove passport.net and play.com completely, this would be 82 out of 96 (85.42%).
  • On average sites are currently down by 69% of their original pre-panda visibility. This means on average sites have experienced a 31% recovery of their original pre-Panda visibility.
  • Sites have on average increased visibility by 10% from when they were hit by Panda to today.

Please take the data above with a pinch of salt, but the analysis does highlight just how difficult it has been and still is for websites to experience recovery from Google Panda. In many cases, Google questioned the fundamental business model of a website or at the very least, made most think again about what USP and value they provide to users (that Google hasn’t decided to offer themselves of course…).

Dan Sharp is founder & Director of Screaming Frog. He has developed search strategies for a variety of clients from international brands to small and medium-sized businesses and designed and managed the build of the innovative SEO Spider software.

44 Comments

  • Graham Miller 11 years ago

    Can you let us know which sites have recovered, and even better, how they did it? We’re still one of the 95% that hasn’t yet….

    Thanks

    Reply
    • screamingfrog 11 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Graham.

      Take a look at the analysis in the embedded Google docs spread sheet – essentially, any site with 100%+ recovery has ‘fully recovered’. They include –

      money.co.uk
      trustpilot.co.uk
      pcadvisor.co.uk
      techradar.com
      softonic.com
      londontown.com

      Although I don’t believe either passport.net or play.com were really hit looking back at the statistics.

      Looking closer at your site (purely from the data above), your organic visibility is actually lower now, than it was immediately after Panda.

      I would go as far as saying Google doesn’t like your business model unfortunately. You’re an affiliate, what value do you provide that the retailers or they themselves don’t already through their own products? (Playing devils advocate, aka Google).

      Google would hate some of these pages, where’s the content? –

      http://www.shopsafe.co.uk/buy_ipods.asp
      http://www.shopsafe.co.uk/best-selling-cds.asp
      http://www.shopsafe.co.uk/buy-electric-guitar.asp

      Although I am sure they don’t mind the adsense revenue ;-)

      Reply
  • Andy Willis 11 years ago

    Hi

    Very interesting. I know a few website owners that had to go and get jobs after the Penguin & Panda algorithm updates. Luckily I wasn’t one of them.

    Is it possible to post a link to the data in a downloadable format? At first read through I didn’t even spot the extra columns of data that weren’t in view – and it would make it easier to look through it in more detail.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • screamingfrog 11 years ago

      You can literally just copy and paste the data directly from the embed above into a new Google doc / Excel spread sheet.

      It’s difficult to fit a spread sheet as wide as that into 685 of width unfortunately! :-)

      Reply
      • Wade 10 years ago

        It would be much better for everyone if Google simply stopped playing policeman by penalising. If they stopped counting the bad links as a negative value and instead give them a neutral value then: a)Website owners wont get penalised buy hiring incompetent people and b)SEO professionals can concentrate of actually serving their clients instead of spending all there time on blogs and watching Mr Cuts latest rant on youtube.

        Reply
    • Asher Elran 11 years ago

      It is amazing how a few changes in search engine algorithm can get a person to loose business and face a prospect of being someones’ employee.

      Reply
  • Raymond 11 years ago

    Hey there,

    Thanks for the analysis. Scary to know that so few “big” sites actually recovers from Panda.

    My site got hit by Panda as well, and is trying very hard to recover by improving every article.

    Reply
  • Nico Pirnazari 11 years ago

    Still trying hard to get rid of this Panda… but no success

    Reply
  • Andres 11 years ago

    And my site was hit by Panda horrible, so I did not see how it will be sold free site, for now I’m satisfied, best regards from Serbia

    Reply
  • Steve Sims 11 years ago

    Panda is a pain – No sooner do you start to understand it and work out what are the new best practices then another algorithm change comes out.

    – In a way it’s comforting to know that the bigger sites have been hit as well as some of the smaller businesses out there, you kind of always assume that they are perhaps unaffected by these changes…

    Reply
  • Gerry White 11 years ago

    Hacking the data out and playing with it in Excel – one thing i hate about Gdocs is the not so good colouring … !

    I would love to interview all the >100% recoverers – great post and I have already favourited it …

    Reply
  • David 11 years ago

    As Gerry said, it would be interesting to talk to the owners of the 100% recover sites and learn what did to get back to where they were.

    For the sites that never recovered, maybe they are doing the same things that caused them to be penalized in the first place? Some of the sites on the list look as though they’d have thin content at the best of times.

    Reply
  • Sam 11 years ago

    Google’s raison d’etre is giving good search results so the algorithm is constantly being altered to prevent “SEO” tactics and to force website owners to make good websites. The only way to recover from Panda is to make your website better, faster and clearer to both the bots and to Google – that way Google will trust you againm and trust delivering you as a result in ths SERPS

    Reply
  • Tothemobile 11 years ago

    There is not shortcut to recover from Google panda. All you can do is write unique contents, Titles and remove old and useless content from your blog.

    Reply
  • Steven 11 years ago

    Hey guys, I’ve been recovering websites for just over a year now, well over 300 at this stage. The one thing I find happening time and time again, is discovering that the site has in fact been hit by Penguin penalty or Manual penalty and not Panda. Panda is quite easy to recover from, the main three things to look at are duplication of content (this can happen in a variety of ways so look it up if you think you have already covered everything in this aspect), thin content (ensure you use unique product names and plenty of descriptive text) and finally, technical server related issues. For the most part, the sites suffering from Panda issues usually pertain to duplicated content on a mass scale, or lack of any real content. The Penguin issue is much more laborious, but any site can come back from manual or algorithmic penalties, just make sure you know which it is before wasting hours looking at the wrong things. I’ve listed my site coz I have quite a few articles on link profile cleaning and reconsideration requests that might be useful to some of you. All the best.

    Reply
    • Johan 9 years ago

      I have done much research now and Steven your comments are spot on.

      Reply
  • David Schneider 11 years ago

    Could someone refer me to a study that shows what percentage of sites were affected by Panda and/or Penguin? Generally, the only ones we here about were the ones that were hurt… which may have been less than 1%.

    Reply
  • Kris Dietz 11 years ago

    Nice to see some actual statistics behind this post. Those hit hardest will not come back to full strength shy of tremendous amounts of time.

    I would also love to dive deeper into those that have recovered and the tactics behind that.

    Reply
  • local seo 11 years ago

    hi Dan,

    Interesting post, I think patience is a virtue with this one, be prepared to wait a long time it can be disheartening but its is possible to recover from a Google slap but I do think its depends on the extent of the penalty and how much crap you had associated with you domain pre-penalty, thanks.

    Adam

    Reply
  • Paradigma 11 years ago

    Thanks great recovery example

    Reply
  • SixtyMarketing 11 years ago

    Would you be able to re-release these stats after Penguin 2.0 is released? Would like to see how many websites get hit from this update. There is still a lot of poor, spammy websites about. Would be nice to get rid of them ALL!

    Thanks Dan. Kev from SixtyMarketing.

    Reply
  • Shruti 11 years ago

    Very interesting post. The basic idea behind the change of panda algorithm is to lower the ranking of low quality sites and mark the high quality sites in the top search results.

    Reply
  • Haroon Gul 11 years ago

    my site is also hot bu panda update i loss my 90% of search traffic and unable to recover it

    Reply
  • ravi 11 years ago

    Our all blog networks site deindexed after google panda update. And my main site got recovered after 13th july it has more traffic and it really jumped.

    Reply
  • Hi guys.
    Does someone knows how Panda penalize the low content sites?
    I know that the main factor is “Duplicate content”. The others?

    Reply
  • St Louis SEO 10 years ago

    I don’t really think it is that hard to recover, given that you replace what was causing the slap from Panda to begin with.

    Reply
  • Si Parker 10 years ago

    We lost a good few links on some client sites but as a few people above have said good blog networks with diverse footprints are always useful even if some of them lose PR. Quality counts!!

    Reply
  • Google 10 years ago

    First, I absolutely love your Screaming Frog SEO Spyder tool (it’s amazing for doing site analysis and provides a great, quick overview of what’s wrong with a site (so often you end up seeing the same H1 or H2’s across the entire site…. or worse, you end up missing titles or h1s!)

    Anyhow, back to panda. I have seen a TON of Panda recoveries (and I see them nearly every week) but it’s true that most people never recovery because the nature of their site is exactly what Google is trying to penalize.

    For example, I see a bunch of people running robot generated sites with next-to-no original content that were previously ranking in 2010… but since have been completely shut down. Panda is really after higher quality content and they want to deliver results that users are searching for. (Hence why it’s so important to make your users want to return to your site!)

    I just wish there was more transparency at Google.

    Reply
  • Atinder 9 years ago

    Well, First of all, it’s not an easy task to get to know, whether our blog is penalized or not, unless, we are experience. I faced the same problem, when i started my career, that time, one of my blog got penalized due to low quality content, but I continued working on it, without knowing that it was penalized, but with experience, I recovered that blog perfect and it started ranking well on Google after the recent Panda Refresh. But, One thing I should say, recovering from Panda or Penguin can take some time, considering how much low quality content we have on our site, so it took few months for me. So, I will advice to all those who are looking recover their blog Google penalty, work smartly and keep patience. It’s the best way to do so. Btw, a very well written Post. Cheers.

    Reply
  • Steve 9 years ago

    Nowadays google panda is getting more cunning and wise too. In last week I have noticed , there is some update rolling out. I have seen so much fluctuations in SERPs too. It’s been no rocket science to judge Google Panda anymore than following google T&C.

    Reply
  • James Reynolds 9 years ago

    Good google panda recovery case! Do you have solution how to runaway from it?

    Reply
  • Tauseef 9 years ago

    The only solution to get rid of Panda update is to write lengthy content, preferably 2000+ words long.

    Reply
  • Sticking to creating great content that is actually useful to your users is the way to go when it comes to avoiding these updates and penalties. Stick to them, and you won’t have to worry.

    Reply
  • Priya Singh 8 years ago

    well i have positive impact from Google panda update and my Blogspot traffic also increased, right now deleting old content posts which is not useful for people.

    Reply
  • raja babu 8 years ago

    i tried too many times to recover my site but failed all time :(

    Reply
  • Shashank 8 years ago

    I have bought a domain (directorylist.us) it also have a good DA. but I think it is penalized by google. Please can you help me in any way possible in making this domain useful.

    Reply
  • marksmith 8 years ago

    Good post !! I have positive opinion for Google Panda’s Algorithm. Because it will be very helpful for the users they would get good content. All the worst and poor sites wont be indexed in google searching platform.

    Reply
  • Adam Barton 7 years ago

    I have bought a domain (directorylist.us) it also have a good DA. but I think it is penalized by google. Please can you help me in any way possible in making this domain useful.

    Reply
  • Mike 7 years ago

    I tried too many times to recover my site but failed all time, Can you give me any suggestion ?
    Thanx

    Reply
  • I am owner of few website. My site traffic droped about 98% in last 3 months. Can you explain more about traffic recovery duration.
    Thanks

    Reply

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