I’m sure many of you by now have seen the short conversation between Matt Cutts and Tom Critchlow regarding the length of time it takes to recover from a Google Panda Penalty. I’m going to offer my comment on this exchange and why I think it’s important. I’ll try to not guess or read into things that may or may not exist. I’ll also attempt to keep to the facts and what I know about Search Engines and how they work, particularly Google.
Here is the conversation between the two of them in-case you missed it:
Tom Critchlow: @mattcutts “assuming a site completely reworks their site/content after panda, how long before they will regain traffic?”
Matt Responds with:
Matt Cutts: @tomcritchlow “short version is that it’s not data that’s updated daily right now. More like when we re-run the algorithms to regen the data“.
Now dissecting Matt’s <140 character response (yes, I’m laughing too) here is my analysis of what was said and the intent behind it: [Assumed important parts are in bold above ^^^]
1. “not data that’s updated daily right now.”
My interpretation: This barely needs an explanation except the part where Matt says “right now”, that could mean anything and the door has been left wide open so they can make changes as and when without pressure of time constraints or criticism. This may mean that Panda is in a sort of “Beta” mode (although it’s not) but I believe there is still a lot more to come from this algorithm change and it maybe being controlled manually until they feel able to let it loose on it’s own. It’s such a significant change that it could create huge problems in many ways if it went wrong, although that’s pure conjecture and only my opinion.
2. “when we re-run the algorithms to regen the data”
My interpretation: This would explain why there are no people shouting about a recovery I think. We don’t know when they re-run the algorithm or if they have yet. I think that Labnol and Cult of the Mac are strange anomalies and shouldn’t be considered in the analysis or thesis of solutions and fixes.
- It appears as though recoveries from the Google Panda Update are possible, this applies to the UK , USA and other English speaking countries.
- There is a delay for whatever reason. I don’t think it matters what that reason is though. I can only assume it’ll be between two and six months.
- Matt has covered his back by using words like “right now” and “when”. This means it could all change without prior warning or notification, hardly a revelation considering Google, especially recently.
Well, I guess that means even more waiting, possibly for a while yet. If you are working on your websites, I suggest you keep a log of what you’ve changed and “improved” and apply different sets of changes to separate websites, if possible. This is to attempt to understand what changes would’ve actually made a difference when Google eventually decide to refresh their data. It should be noted that Google-Bot crawled sites very, very aggressively and deeply a few days before Panda and I’d keep a look out for another huge crawling spike, if you see uncharacteristic crawling patterns (usually massive increases), then you can probably assume a new set of data will be applied to the algo and some changes should follow fairly imminently. Let’s hope they’re positive.
Here is a quote from another Googler by the name of John Mu who made a fairly powerful and factually incorrect statement about Google Panda a couple of months ago. I doubt that he was purposefully spreading misinformation, rather he was misinformed or assumed that the Google Panda portion of the algo worked in a similar fashion to how Google’s algorithm used to rank URL’s:
This is not limited to this particular algorithm update & your site, but I’d like to mention it regardless:
I can assure you that our algorithms are not one-way streets. As a website is updated, recrawled, reindexed, and with that, the site’s signals reassessed, our algorithms will take those changes into account and treat the website accordingly. There are countless examples of that happening here in the forums, I see them regularly.
That process is usually not something that takes place overnight after a webmaster has uploaded a fresh copy of the code for the website. For example, it takes time for us to recrawl the pages, the bigger the site, the longer it will take. The better a site is structured (less duplicate content, no infinite URL spaces, etc), the faster we’ll be able to recrawl parts of a site and take that content into consideration. Sometimes, even after recrawling parts of a site, our algorithms will need a bit of time to confirm that the site has really changed for good.
All of this can and will take time. Personally, I’d recommend not waiting to see if a single, small change will make a difference, our algorithms rarely have a “one-track-mind,” they take many factors into account. Because of that, I’d recommend always continuing to work on your site, to improve it, expand it, to get feedback from your users and to take action on that feedback (happy users come back and recommend your site to their friends!). Even when you start to see changes, don’t stop there — make your site into the best resource of it’s kind.
Hope it helps!
He makes a few very interesting statements though:
1. He assumed correctly there would be a delay in getting your traffic back or knew there would be.
2. He suggests making multiple changes at a time, this is probably to obfuscate what the Panda signals might be. If you want to figure out what caused your website pain before, I don’t suggest you follow his advice.
3. It is suggested that Google uses more than one signal to determine whether you get punished, we assumed this anyway as Google uses hundreds of signals to rank websites as it is, no surprises here.
Anything you read outside of the official Google channels should be treated with a pinch of salt, if it’s not said by Matt, Amit or on the official Google blog, then I’d not take it as something that should be seriously considered. In fact, I wouldn’t take anything as “pure fact” from Google it’s usually very vague and subjective, even from the official channels at the best of times. Use your own channels garnered from multiple authority sources to make your own mind up. I have to say, using your common sense is probably the best advice until there is some concrete evidence of what works and what doesn’t.
Here is to a a good recovery. Cheers, Chris.