Panda Update: Ecommerce sites at risk & an Analytics report to show how it’s hitting your US traffic today

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  • March 28, 2011
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

The Panda Farmer update has not hit the UK yet but when it does the effect it will have on everyday websites could be huge. Ecommerce sites are particularly at risk.

We’ve been analysing quite few sites by looking at their Google Organic non-brand traffic from the US via the Custom Report below (click here to use) and there are some very worrying signs.

The image below is via SEObooks Panda preparation post – we have seen much bigger drops using the method above for certain sites.

What we have been doing is taking all the search traffic from the before and after the update (which was on 24th Feb) and looking to see which keywords and pages have dropped the most. To do this you need to download the data for the 4 weeks before and then compare to the 4 weeks after using the magic of vlookup in Excel. This gives you a view on your biggest problem pages.

One interesting thing we found is that the update is definitely not sitewide – there are a number of sites we looked at where the update had only hit pages of a certain type. For example ecommerce sites where the category pages were fine but product pages were hit hard.

Since this algorithm is US only we can easily compare the results before and after – simply search for the keyword on google.com and then add the &gl=us paramter to the end – click here and then here to see an example for “how to paint a wine glass”. Note that to get a fair test you need to use queries where Google is unlikely to favour UK sites.

Problems for ecommerce sites

So the first line of this post mentioned ecommerce sites. This update is going to cause major issues for anybody that has a large site with product descriptions that are duplicated across lots of other sites. If you have a few of these it’s not an issue to rewrite them but a lot of big ecommerce sites have 10,000+ products and to rewrite those is going to be a major headache.

When the update hit the US bloggers and the press were mainly quite pleased about the update as nobody likes the idea of content farms ranking. When the update hits the UK, where there are very few content farms, a lot of legitimate ecommerce sites are going to suddenly find themselves labelled as a content farm with 50% of Google Organic traffic disappearing overnight.

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