The Scary Panda Makes Webmasters do Google’s Job

It’s been already 3 months since Google began rolling out the Panda algorithm to filter content farms from the search results and they hit literally tens of thousands of unique content websites, while giving an advantage to scrapers and content aggregators. And this is exactly the opposite of what Google’s Panda should have done. It was supposed to filter all low quality and duplicate content from the search results. So either Google is doing it all wrong, aggregators provide higher quality content than the original sources or Google designed this algorithm especially to scare webmasters.

So here’s how I see the whole situation. I don’t believe Google is not able to see who’s the original source and who just scrapes others’ content, because they were able to do it before Panda. Also it’s impossible to consider the scrapers and aggregators deserve to be placed ahead of the original sources. So maybe Google did this to make webmasters clean their websites, remove duplicate pages, quit spamming and improve content quality. They can keep this algorithm up for a few months until most of the websites are cleaned up and increase quality, so after that it will be much easier for Google to filter the results and become more relevant.

If this proves to be true, Google will lose all it’s credibility and it already started to, because legit businesses with quality content who relied on Google’s traffic can go bankrupt just because the search engine is playing with them. And from a company that everyone loved, Google becomes more hated than Microsoft, which surprisingly does a really good job lately. And we can see this in the search engine market share too, Microsoft and Yahoo are growing while Google is at best stalling.

Fortunately Bing is really relevant and at least in the last 3 months it has been much more relevant than Google, the latter being full of spam in the search results. And users don’t like crappy spam sites, which will make them switch sides. And I am pretty sure Google knows that, though they hope people will come back once it becomes more relevant, though some of them will be satisfied with Bing and will stay with them, because Microsoft doesn’t screw them how you do, Google.

If you still haven’t lost your trust in Google, let me give you one more reason to. Panda filters duplicate and low quality content, right ? Here’s an example of a scraper outranking Google’s own blog:

Google's blog

So Google considers that topsy.com is more relevant than their own blog for their own content. And I could continue with examples like this all day long. All of Google’s blogs are in the same situation, which is pretty shameful.

For the last 3 months, every webmaster started looking for solution to please the scary Panda, but there isn’t any good one, unfortunately, because it seems like if you have unique quality content you are not good enough for Google. Most scrapers copy the posts from websites’ RSS feeds, so a lot of webmasters shortened the feed to just 30-50 words with a backlink to the website and guess what. Scrapers who copy just that 30-50 words and also link to the original website still outrank it. It doesn’t matter the original website has a comprehensive 500 – 2000 words article, it’s still not as good as the short excerpt the scrapers copy. So no, there’s nothing you can do about it. The only one who can help you is Google and it will eventually restore the old algorithm, but nobody knows when or what they are going to do further.

If you still don’t believe Google does this on purpose, then please read their latest update on the Panda algorithm. There are some criteria websites must meet in order to please Google’s bot. And I wasn’t able to find a single one that scrapers or aggregators meet, though they still outrank the original sources.

Maybe you think I’m just another idiot that wants to begin a conspiratorial theory and if you do, please read the post again and try to find a better reason for what’s happening right now.

  1. Google I believe, is just whacking independent publishers.

    Why?

    Because independent media is a thorn in big media’s side. Mass media has been trailing indy content for years. This goes for TV, radio type programming (podcasts and streaming shows), and especially for blog/articles.

    The big media is almost always the source of quotes and snippets indy’s use in their work. This limited type quotes and inclusions should be covered under Fair Use doctrine.

    But, big old media money is just being trounced by bloggers. It’s so bad that their original content isn’t being read. Add to their whoas Google scraping their content and putting it wherever they want and the copyscrape pirates fully duplicating the entire pieces. Probably 75% of the readership just went somewhere else.

    This web thing is supposed to just be a value added thing for their print paper, but that print subscription audience keeps getting smaller and smaller. The expectation is free content online and the only financial model for that is ads like Google’s own AdSense.

    These old wealthy media powerhouses still have clout and cash reserves and many have sued Google or are currently. Google wants nothing to do with those folks because they have big audiences especially collectively and could sway influence against Google, not to mention prevail in a huge lawsuit.

    Panda is all about giving big media back their seat on the perch at the cost of all small publishers.

    An organization representing huge media was found to be interacting with Google prior to Panda about this very issue:
    http://www.googlemonopoly.eu/index.php/2011/04/19/breaking-news-google-caught-conspiring-with-the-online-publishers-association-against-websites/

    There are lots of inconsistencies in Google’s search. For instance that outranking by a scraper stealing Google’s content is funny, but there are other places where Google is hogging up 60%+ of a search page itself with geographical domains of the same content.

    • I know about the article from your blog and I’m not pretty sure that’s what Panda intends. It mostly affected ‘how to’ articles and tutorials, which cannot be found on traditional media websites. I know Google tries to

  2. Alex – personally I believe webmasters should, indeed, be responsible for their own content.

    The purpose of the web is not to be never ending duplication.

    Blackhat Seo has been capturing top spots by using duplicate content, doorway pages and other nefarious schemes – including spinning content.

    Especially in the usage of scraping.

    Now – if Google makes webmasters responsible for their own content in order to rank high – then it means that duplicated content will become minimized.

    If you are a store – unless you are a franchise – you don’t want anyone copying you. Why should the web be different? On the web people are scraping or stealing content.

    There is a legal way to stop them – go after them.

    If you can’t afford to go after them – then perhaps you shouldn’t be in business… Yanno?

    I’m very active on the forums – at first I thought Google was the big bad wolf – and followed many naysayers – until I started actually helping other webmasters and I realized that perhaps NOW is the time for people to start taking responsibility for their own content – quality of their websites and the quality of their links.

    Why should Blackhat SEO win. Google can’t always stop them – however – if the owners of the websites put their foot down… and make an effort to control their work – then there will be a massive difference.

    In the studies that I have done – and the sites I have witnessed – it appears that the algo reads the sites and distributes points based on the last copy of the content published date.

    So – say the original content was published today – and tomorrow someone scraped it – and published it… Then tomorrow the points that were originally assigned move to the scraper.

    This means people need to actually control their content.

    Yeah – it’s not easy…

    You have to send emails – and mail – and communicate with ISPs and Hosts and possibly even the domain name registrar… But it can be done… And you may have to hire an attorney or learn how to civilly sue someone… but it CAN be done.

    If you’re in business – this is a business move.

    So in the vision of webmasters taking responsibility for their content – I’m all for it.

    I think it’s time someone stepped up to the plate and said – enough is enough… and if this is the way Google is doing it… then those that want to stay in the top of the search engines Serps – then they will comply.

    Their compliance will make the internet a better place for searchers…

    AND – it will also make their sites better – more authoritative and more quality based.

    As to whether Google did this correctly – or gave enough warning… I don’t know…

    It needed to be done.

    Would I have done it another way – absolutely… I would have probably announced what was going to happen… and then done it – giving website owners a 3 month window to change the content.

    But – hey – it’s not my call to tell Google what to do.

    I will say your writing is good… Sorry if you got hit with the Panda Express… But – I think if you keep up this type of quality writing – then you should be fine…

    I don’t have to agree with you to recognize decent writing.

    Have a splendid day!

    ~Lyrics

  3. To the first person posting about Google and the media and advertising..

    Personally I believe Google KILLED television…

    The Advertising revenue of television went to Google and internet publishing – and TV has literally lost billions of dollars – that went into Google’s pocket… Media is no friend of Google.

    However – I’m of the assumption that all TV will be internet based by 2015 so that will return in spades as people are able to watch shows at their own discretion instead of watching on specific days – time slots – etc.

    Commercials will be integrated within the shows…

    This is my opinion after having dealt with the entertainment industry…

  4. Google certainly contributed to all traditional media advertising decreases.

    Unfortunately, for everyone, Google trivialized advertising, broke the cost way down, devaluing the entire large industry. There are reasons why Google-based advertising is cheaper than traditional media. ROI with Google is very low for many and Google has a revolving door problem with advertisers trying, failing and leaving.

    Print and TV were two Google product offerings. The Google Print (?) ad offer was a failure and was shuttered. The TV ads are likely soon to follow into extinction.

    I agree with LyricsExpress view about TV migrating and changing to on-demand self-programming and that will be done with IP-based networks, not broadcast delivery via networks. Google won’t get that market – networks and others won’t allow it to happen and Google is too cheap to pay fairly so no chance.

    Relating to the intellectual property protection steps over duplicated content – very sad situation there.

    Not at liberty (under NDA) to discuss all details but have a client/partner who has the solution to the duplicate content problem. It’s not legal process to fix stolen content, but rather more software (math) and/or services. We have a working proof of concept and are in the process of doing patent related filing.

    We know a huge something about the dupe problem but not at liberty to disclose it. Someday when we do mention it in public Google is going to have big problems.

    I can say Google is definitely financially benefiting from the stolen content just look at AdSense being on most of those copied sites.

  5. Agreed.

    Good luck with that.

    I do think that it is an impossible task for ONE company to police the billions online.

    As to adsense – those that use it – only make money if the content is clicked through or ROI is in place – so getting those to just click on it isn’t exactly enough these days.

    Kind of like CJ shut down PPC revenue – etc.

    I used to think Google was responsible for everything – now I’m watching people use/blame Google… The business model is successful – and since when did any FREE company (for searchers and to be listed in the search results is free) become responsible for the world?

    I mean – take a look at any other company that gives away things – unless they are unethical (as in killing people on purpose or actually poisoning people) they are given kudos and can make any changes they like… HOwever Google does that – and everyone demands they pay more, do more, give more – and of course – Give each individual top spot…. those individuals having taken a free ride for so long…

    For example – scrapers stole content – used “under the table” tools or practices and bounced into top place – that info got passed on to the regular webmaster – who didn’t know any better – and now they get their hands slapped.

    Now webmasters have to actually WORK at their businesses… Which they don’t understand… No one wants to spend hundreds of hours on a business that used to be automated… but – sadly the days of riding free are over.

    OK – so I’m not so sad about it in all honesty.. I’m kinda glad…

    but it’s going to be awhile before everything settles and people GET that if they want to rank – they have to beat the scrapers – and they have to be quality content.

    I do wish you good luck…

    But I don’t think that Google or the Stolen Content have been benefiting… People do not get paid if they get caught cheating the system…

    Perhaps this Panda is a way to expose the scrapers? (hadn’t thought of that before… But not a bad idea.)

    Anyhow – off to bed I go…
    So y’all have a good night/

  6. >As to adsense – those that use it – only make money if the >content is clicked through or ROI is in place

    Hypothetically if a site is poor design, unusable or lacks content (example: a site posting stolen RSS snips as full page content) then the ads will be more effective and that will lead to better CTR and higher income via an inferior product.

    > take a look at any other company that gives away things

    Companies that give things away are non profits. They are regulated arguably to a higher degree than for profits. Society puts great pressure on non profits and limits what they can and cannot do and audits them for compliance.

    > Now webmasters have to actually WORK at their businesses

    Webmasters (most) are working. They are creating content, supporting their visitors, answering questions, posting elsewhere online, etc. Small content producers have an impossible job with selling direct advertising until they get some volume and even later selling ads later is very time consuming. Add content creation time with sales time and the legal chasing time and I doubt 95%+ of site owners would make even the legal minimum wage. That’s discouraging and will stifle real content creation by independents. What will we be left with? Big media and Twitter-like services posing as content, that’s de-evolution of media.

    > People do not get paid if they get caught cheating the system…

    Yes, while the fake content publisher get stiffed and banned by Google, that results in Google keeping 100% of the money. Have you ever heard of advertisers being refunded because their ads ran on shady illegal stolen sites? I haven’t.

    Have you heard of the legitimate owner of the content being forwarded the money Google illegally made? I haven’t.

    Clearly Google makes out in those transactions.

    Policing content isn’t a webmaster’s job. No other system of any sort I can think of has this self policing concept where people are being told they deserve to be victims and must waste their time and resources dealing with those stealing like this. Maybe we should hold Google accountable for damages on one side and have laws on the other that don’t mandate take downs only, but inflict serious financial penalties for being a thief?

    Clearly the lack of laws and lack of implications for violating copyright, trademark, serial mark, etc. ONLINE has been set up intentionally. Google is no stranger to lobbying and being involved in shaping politics — they spend quite a bit on both.

  7. This is exactly what I and my colleagues are seeing. Scrapers and content thieves are outranking us across the board and is is sick to see google not only claiming that their content is higher quality, but they are actually rewarding copyright theft. If I were an attorney general I would be investigating them as we speak. The flatly refuse to help with DMCA takedowns and de-indexing as well, allowing the copyright thieves to profit from their behavior. It is unconscionable.

  8. I’ve often found my content to be ripped and spread across the web, where it gains far higher rankings than it does on my site, even though that content may have existed on my site and indexed by Google for 6 months+.

    Maybe I’m being far too simplistic here, but why don’t Google timestamp the content when it first indexes it, then this can ultimately be referred to as the ‘master’, then when content is found, indexed and deemed to be duplicate content, it can be marked as a ‘child’. Master and child can then be ranked accordingly.
    Am I being too narrow minded here?

  9. Alex, I tried the same Google search re: the MIT quote from Google’s own blog, and got the Google blog above the scraper – unlike the example you gave. You’re probably getting that result because you’ve visited the site before, so that’s Google giving you the result it thinks you like (‘personalized search results’).

    If you want to see what Google results would look like *without* personalized search, turn it off, or add the query parameter &pws=0 to the URL after searching. You’ll probably get the result you’re looking for.

    Additionally, I don’t think Panda has been an utter failure as you’re implying. Websites with shoddy, thin content have been penalized and lost traffic because of it. Sure, some sites have been hit that probably shouldn’t, but no algorithm update will be 100.00% effective. To imply that Panda was only detrimental to results is assuming far too much.

  10. Wow Alex, you just got owned!

    My Google search also shows the Google blog article as the top hit. You might want to delete this post before 100 Million(!) people realize that you don’t know what you are talking about.

  11. what frustrated me the most is that why they banned .co.cc domain.. really crazy.. not all webmaster a spammer…:-(

  12. That Looks really Scary whats really Happening with Google. Lot of Up’s and downs these days

  13. Alex,

    Seems like you have stopped working on this blog. Where is your new blog? Are you going to revive this blog? You should as it is a great resource.

  14. Alex,

    I certainly enjoyed reading this blog post and the resulting comments. I thought there to be a lot of truth in your post initially, but after reading all of the comments I don’t know what to think.

    I was distracted here from Quick Sprout and that only happens sometimes where I’ll read the entire post and the accompanying comments.

    So at this point all I am certain of is that it’s just darn good writing, and I’m glad I came, and keep up the good work! Back to Neil’s…

    Alice

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