Google Panda 4.0 | Complete Detail about Panda 4.0

Is eBay A Big Loser In Google’s Panda 4.0 Update? — Winners & Losers Data

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Yesterday, Google began rolling out their Panda 4.0 update designed to punch low-quality content. That’s generated both “winners” who have moved up in rankings as “losers” have dropped down — and eBay might be one of the big losers.

Searchmetrics gave us their initial winners and loser charts, based on rankings they continually monitor. These show that one of the biggest losers was eBay. According to the data, eBay lost a tremendous amount of traffic from Google, much of it from the ebay.com/bhp/ area of its site.

Another huge loser was Ask.com, yes, the search engine, that lost a tremendous amount of traffic in their Questions section at ask.com/question/.

The Losers: Ask.com, eBay, Biography.com & Google-Backed RetailMeNot

Among the top losers include Ask.com, ebay.com, biography.com and retailmenot.com. I should note, retailmenot.com is venture backed by Google’s venture arm. Here is the top list of losers from the Searchmetrics initial analysis:

panda-4-loser

Here is a chart showing eBay’s UK drop by their main root domain versus the directory from Searchmetrics:

ebay.co.uk in Google UK

Dr. Peter Meyers from Moz also documented with their analytics how much eBay lost with this update. Pete said, “over the course of about three days, eBay fell from #6 in our Big 10 to #25.” Meyers digs deep into the analysis on the Moz blog.

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Refugeeks looked at early SEM Rush data, which also showed a steep decline for ebay’s web site in Google. Note, SEMRush will be sending me more data as they work it up at their office. Here is a chart from the UK data:

ebay-dot-com-keywords-lost-UK

The Winners

With all algorithm updates, there are also those who win and gain rankings. The big winners seem to be glassdoor.com, emedicinehealth.com, medterms.com, yourdictionary.com and shopstyle.com.

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The SearchMetrics data is sorted by increase in SEO visibility in absolute numbers, but sorted by percentage (relative).

Only Losers Really Know If They Lost

As we said with the Panda 3.5 Winners & Losers report, lists like this aren’t perfect. The sites above may have had gains and drops for other reasons; less visibility this week because last week they were visible for different news stories, for example.

It’s also worth remembering that this is a sample of search terms. The only way to really know if any update has hurt or helped you is to look at your search-driven traffic from Google, rather than particular rankings or lists like this, which have become popular after Google updates. If you’ve seen a significant increase, you’ve probably been rewarded by it. A big decrease? Then you were probably hit.

More About Panda 4.0

Google Begins Rolling Out Panda 4.0 Now

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Google’s Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that they have released version 4.0 of the Google Panda algorithm.

Google’s Panda algorithm is designed to prevent sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results.

But didn’t Google stop updating us on Panda refreshes and updates since they are monthly rolling updates? Yes, but this is a bigger update.

Panda 4.0 must be a major update to the actual algorithm versus just a data refresh. Meaning, Google has made changes to how Panda identifies sites and has released a new version of the algorithm today.

Is this the softer and gentler Panda algorithm? From talking to Google, it sounds like this update will be gentler for some sites, and lay the groundwork for future changes in that direction.

Google told us that Panda 4.0 affects different languages to different degrees. In English for example, the impact is ~7.5% of queries that are affected to a degree that a regular user might notice.

Here are the previous confirmed Panda updates, note, that we named them by each refresh and update, but 4.0 is how Google named this specific update:

Panda Update 1, Feb. 24, 2011 (11.8% of queries; announced; English in US only)
Panda Update 2, April 11, 2011 (2% of queries; announced; rolled out in English internationally)
Panda Update 3, May 10, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 4, June 16, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 5, July 23, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 6, Aug. 12, 2011 (6-9% of queries in many non-English languages; announced)
Panda Update 7, Sept. 28, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 8, Oct. 19, 2011 (about 2% of queries; belatedly confirmed)
Panda Update 9, Nov. 18, 2011: (less than 1% of queries; announced)
Panda Update 10, Jan. 18, 2012 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 11, Feb. 27, 2012 (no change given; announced)
Panda Update 12, March 23, 2012 (about 1.6% of queries impacted; announced)
Panda Update 13, April 19, 2012 (no change given; belatedly revealed)
Panda Update 14, April 27, 2012: (no change given; confirmed; first update within days of another)
Panda Update 15, June 9, 2012: (1% of queries; belatedly announced)
Panda Update 16, June 25, 2012: (about 1% of queries; announced)
Panda Update 17, July 24, 2012:(about 1% of queries; announced)
Panda Update 18, Aug. 20, 2012: (about 1% of queries; belatedly announced)
Panda Update 19, Sept. 18, 2012: (less than 0.7% of queries; announced)
Panda Update 20 , Sept. 27, 2012 (2.4% English queries, impacted, belatedly announced
Panda Update 21, Nov. 5, 2012 (1.1% of English-language queries in US; 0.4% worldwide; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 22, Nov. 21, 2012 (0.8% of English queries were affected; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 23, Dec. 21, 2012 (1.3% of English queries were affected; confirmed, announced)
Panda Update 24, Jan. 22, 2013 (1.2% of English queries were affected; confirmed, announced)
Panda Update 25, March 15, 2013 (confirmed as coming; not confirmed as having happened)

 

Google Ranking Products By Reviews And Ratings

Google Ranking Products By Reviews And Ratings

The team at CPC Strategy spotted a new test in the Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) last night. In a search for coffee grinders that was qualified with “best”, the PLAs were shown in order of a  numerical rankings system that appears to be factoring in the quality and quantity of each item’s ratings.

In the screenshot above, notice that #2 ranked Cuisinart Supreme has by far the most reviews at 312, but with a rating of 4 stars it loses out to 5-star rated Capresso Infinity which has 169 reviews. However, the Cuisinart Supreme is still able to outrank three items with 4.5 stars (De Longhi, Breville and Baratza Encore) which each have significantly fewer ratings than the Cuisinart with the Breville and Baratza with fewer than 50 each.

Similarly, looking at the Baratza Encore and Breville Smart, which rank 5th and 6th respectively, each has a rating of 4.5 stars, yet Baratza with 48 reviews ranks ahead of the Breveille with just 30 reviews.

CPC Strategy also noted that the test worked with the qualifier “top” as well and pointed out that the link to the Google Shopping portal says “Shop for top rated coffee grinders on Google” in the results for “best coffee grinders”.

I haven’t been able to replicate the test, yet, but Roman Fitch a retail specialist at CPC Strategy notes that the test seemed to be running on electronics and appliances. So keep your eyes out. We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will provide any update here.

You Should Never Know In Advance Where A Link Is Coming From

You Should Never Know In Advance Where A Link Is Coming From

You Should Never Know In Advance Where A Link Is Coming From

Duane Forrester from Microsoft’s Bing team wrote a blog post today on the official Bing Search blog named 10 SEO myths reviewed. There are many good and obvious points Duane makes in the post but one point he makes about links is very revealing.

Duane wrote:

You should never know in advance a link is coming, or where it’s coming from. If you do, that’s the wrong path.

That obviously means you should not buy links, but it also goes as far as saying that you shouldn’t ask other webmasters to link to you. You shouldn’t do any action at all, that you know, for a fact, will lead to you getting a link from a source.

Technically, if you know that emailing me a story about search topics will lead to you getting a link in our daily SearchCap, that seems like it would be going against what Bing’s Senior Product Manager is saying is allowed.

Or maybe I am looking to much into what Bing wrote?

Build a Social Media Marketing Funnel

Who says social media doesn’t convert? Seth Godin noted: “You can use social media to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers, and customers into salespeople.”

You already know that everyone is on these social sites, so I’m not going to bore you with stats on the number of users each social site has. But did you know that you are 51% more likely to buy a product if you hear good things about it on Facebook? Or, better yet, you are 68% more likely to buy a product if you read about it on Twitter?

Now that you know social media can convert strangers into customers, the next step for you to take is to build a social media marketing funnel. To explain how you can do that, I’ve created an infographic that breaks down the necessary steps.

Social Media Funnels

Build a Social Media Marketing Funnel

Does Google Want to Cut Out AdWords Middlemen?

The launch of Google AdWords and its subsequent rapid growth in the early 2000s helped spawn an entire industry around paid search advertising. The ecosystem that arose includes Google and its advertisers, as well as a slew of agencies, consultants, software platforms, data providers, third party tools and various combinations thereof in between them.google-adwords-featured1

Almost every change or announcement that Google makes seems to raise the question of which of these middlemen Google may be trying to disintermediate.

Is Google Threatening Paid Search Providers?

When it was recently announced that Google would stop passing search query data via referring URL for paid search clicks, Marin Software was prompted to address whether this posed a serious threat to their management platform business.

They rightly responded that it “would not be that big a deal,” a sentiment RKG’s George Michie also expressed in saying, “This is an annoyance, but in the great scheme of things, it’s not a major problem.”

Just last week, Google’s “Step Inside AdWords” presentation announced a number of new features, including a set of “enterprise-class” reporting, bidding and management tools. This raised similar questions, but unless you were already losing sleep thinking about Google cutting you out of the loop, you’re probably not going to start waking up in cold sweats over this one.

Focusing on digital agencies and bid management platform providers, let’s examine some of the reasons why Google isn’t likely to put us all out jobs soon.

Paid Search Done Well Is Complex & Complexity Is Only Increasing

Too Many Steps (Less is More)

When Enhanced Campaigns was first announced, it was touted as simplifying the management of AdWords campaigns across devices.

While it may have done that (particularly for less-sophisticated advertisers), it also opened up a range of new possibilities for how advanced marketers could take advantage of existing segmentation options such as geography, device, audience lists and time-of-day, and it created a framework upon which additional levels and layers of complexity could be added in the future.

Under the legacy AdWords model, segmenting bids for facets of user context like device and geography meant duplicating campaigns with different settings. If we wanted to set different bids based on mobile vs. desktop, the US state the searcher is in and whether or not the searcher is a returning customer, we would have quickly multiplied the number of necessary campaigns by 200 times.

If we wanted to account for more granular geographies like city or zip code level, or even a radius around a set of locations, the number of campaigns we would need under the old AdWords model could increase by orders of magnitude. This was not manageable, so advertisers had to pick and choose a limited number of high-priority aspects of user context to account for.

More Complexity & More Control

With Enhanced Campaigns, advertisers can now act upon much more of the information we have at our disposal. If we want to adjust bids for a thousand different locations and multiple devices, we can easily add those as modifiers. But, this also introduces the complexity of calculating how all of those modifiers should be set when our performance data is spread so thinly.

This is a problem that agencies and bid management platforms have been working on and solving for over a decade, particularly with respect to predicting the performance of low-traffic keywords, an area with many parallels to predicting the importance of pieces of user context.

Google’s free AdWords bidding tools have only recently even allowed for adjustments based on the value of conversions, and they do not approach the sophistication of the better bid platforms out there, which incorporate many data signals that go well beyond account structure.

While Google could task a team of engineers tomorrow with bringing its free bidding tools up to speed with the best enterprise options, they could have done so a year ago, or five years ago. They don’t seem to be in a rush.

Were they to do so, that would just be one piece of the puzzle though, since even the best tools require smart people at the controls.

Paid Search Is Labor-Intensive & Requires Human Insight

Missing piece of puzzle - why people search (image)It seems much more likely that Google could seriously threaten the paid search software business than the management side. Solving problems algorithmically is in Google’s DNA, but a lot of the work that goes into managing paid search well involves the types of problems where human beings still hold the advantage over computers.

At its core, paid search management is about language, whether it is building out keywords, writing succinct ad copy that will stand out and appeal to users, or even tailoring a feed for Product Listing Ads. A software program, like Google’s Keyword Planner, can scan a URL or crawl an entire domain and generate an extensive list of potential keywords. Most will be good, some will be odd but harmless; but almost invariably, a subset will be downright dangerous.

An analyst can scan a web page and see a product such as an “electric guitar with free amp” and wouldn’t think to run the phrase “free guitars” on broad match. An algorithm just might. That’s a blunt example, but the necessity of understanding the nuances and meaning of language (and using that knowledge predictively) crops up time and again in paid search management. It can be very expensive to drop a computer-generated term list into AdWords, sight unseen, and hope our bidding algorithm will quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Even with bidding, human insight and oversight is invaluable. Bidding software is only as good as it’s written, but its effectiveness also depends heavily on the quality of the inputs we feed it.

Does your bidding platform know that Cyber Monday will be December 1st this year, instead of the 2nd like last year? Hopefully, but the paid search analyst sure will. Does your platform know that a product you sell was just touted by a big celebrity and its conversion rate will soar through the roof? Unlikely.

With paid search, or really any marketing technique, we also have to scrutinize the larger strategic questions that no software is going to answer for us. For instance, should we weigh customer lifetime value more heavily, or do we need to see a more immediate return on our investment?  Should we steer our mobile customers to our app even if we take a short-term hit on conversions?

Google may be able to help in this area and the more day-to-day examples above, but it hasn’t been a core strength for them and it would mark a pretty major shift in focus.

Paid Search Isn’t Just Google & It Isn’t An Island Entire Of Itself

Somewhat obviously, even if Google could provide top-notch, free AdWords bidding tools and maybe even manage them as well, advertisers would still need to manage Bing and Yahoo search along with a host of other channels.

Would Google be willing to provide a free tool that worked with Bing Ads? Tough to say. Would advertisers trust Google to allocate spending appropriately across engines? Most probably would, but not all.

Advertisers also use platforms and employ agencies to manage and report on multiple other channels. AdWords may be the single biggest line item in a digital marketer’s expense report, but we also have other display efforts, social, organic search, and CSEs to account for, and typically an attribution scheme that ties them all together.

Concluding Thoughts

Google is a huge company full of smart people; it can do pretty much what it chooses. If they don’t at some point make a big push to cut out some of the middlemen in the AdWords ecosystem, it may speak more to the economics of it all than anything else.

In 2012, the top 233 US search agencies covered by Ad Age’s 2013 Agency Report generated combined revenues of $1.03B. Google generated $21B in US revenues in 2012. Those agencies’ revenues amounted to about 5% of Google’s, which might seem pretty efficient to Google compared to trying to scale up a massive new service delivery business. Rather, they can count on the existing market to produce robust paid search programs and focus instead on their own strengths.

Also, although a reputable agency is not going to push their clients to spend more than they should, the interests of agencies and Google are well-aligned and geared toward seeking out opportunities for growth.

On the management platform side, it’s almost surprising that Google isn’t doing more, but then again, it may just be a tough business. In 2013, Marin Software had revenues of $77.3M dollars, but a net loss of $35.9M. If Google invested more in this space, they would do so to get advertisers to spend more on ads, but Google may again be content to let the market handle it rather than make a large investment themselves.

There’s also no guarantee that advertisers would drop their current tool, thus freeing up budget, even if Google had a comparable free option. Google Analytics is a great tool, but from my experience, most enterprise-level advertisers still use a paid option.

To close, Google’s official headcount stood at a little over 46 thousand in Q1 2014, but the livelihoods of many more are affected by the moves it makes. This includes those of us intermediaries and facilitators in the AdWords ecosystem, as well as the clients we work with. I don’t read recent events as suggesting any tectonic shift is happening soon, but I could be wrong. Thoughts?