If there was a surprise waiting when you logged in to check your traffic stats over the weekend there's a good reason for that. Google quietly launched version 2.2 of their Panda (or Farmers) update over the last several days and the reactionary hum has been palpable. People have been reporting traffic drops as early as June 16th and the complaints have been mounting day by day.
In typical Google fashion they have been about as transparent as a brick wall about their new updates and persist in trumpeting vague advice about how to please the new algorithm change.The purpose of the prime Panda update was to purge "low-quality" sites from their index which Google claimed would impact 11.8% of US queries. However, many legit businesses and websites were unexpectedly caught up in the purging.
Google has been dressing down Panda 2.2 by explaining it is one of 500 annual updates to their algorithm. From what we hear, the Panda 2.2 update is geared at removing low quality scraper sites from the index. Scraper sites collect and republish other peoples' content in an effort to outrank them and make money with adsense. However, it seems that quality sites are also getting caught up in the filter.
What Does This Mean For Internet Marketers?
In short, we have to stick as closely to Google's definition of quality as possible and also leverage the power of social media to relieve the dependence on big G. The rule of thumb is to create a site that genuinely improves user experience and adds value. This means your site should be something you want to share with your friends and the online community. With the birth of social media, businesses that can't 't benefit from word of mouth endorsement and social approval will fail.
For tips, see our post on article marketing after panda.
Make Your Site Panda-proof.
We run several affiliate sites in addition to oDigger and our properties were largely untouched. In fact, one site, which we are building a brand around, has seen a noticeable boost in quality traffic since june 17th.
With oDigger our traffic remained unchanged and we saw a tightening in targeting around the terms that are most valuable to us. The results have been noticeably higher page views per session and session duration.
The moral of the story is: build a site that adds value and that you are proud of and you'll be panda proof.