Not too long ago all of the affiliate chat forums were alive with horror stories about an adjustment to the Panda algorithm made around the middle of October. Some were saying their business was destroyed while others complained of a drop in the SERP and almost all were steamed at Google.
I’ve been through a dozen of these “adjustments” that Google periodically releases and the initial response by affiliate marketers is almost always the same. Kneejerk reactions and singing the blues and pointing blame do nothing to resolve problems. My suggestion is to take a deep breath, don’t panic and start looking at just what happened and why.
Results of the new Panda adjustment
So what are we talking about here? On and after October 14th thousands of sites saw a drop in daily traffic. For some it was dramatic and has a very real impact on their business’s revenue. For others it was drop and the challenge is to understand why and what can be done.
While most affiliates only have access to their own statistics, I’m in a fortunate position to see the stats for all the clients who use us for backlinking services and the stats of my students so I have some real, diverse site data to analyze. It’s been a while since I burned the midnight oil on a project but this one intrigued me so I couldn’t wait to dig into it.
For starters I think that the damage done is repairable and I tell you why in just a bit.
But first let’s see just how big an impact this tweak really had.
From the data I have, those sites that were affected lost their position on page 1 of the SERP. If they were number 1 or number 2 they are now number 8 or 9 and in one instance a site slipped to number 1 on page 2. Now there is no question this impacts on traffic but when you consider you’re competing with millions of pages and you’re still on page 1…well it could have been much worse.
In fact if I had to rate this change to the adjustments in the past I’d give it a 2 out of 10 with 10 being a disaster. This isn’t the end of the world.
What trigged the drop in traffic?
I certainly can’t claim that I know how this adjustment works; nobody but Google knows that. But I can tell you that after reviewing the data there was one item that stood out like a sore thumb.
The sites that suffered a decline in ranking had duplicate anchor text pointing at their page.
For example, if you have 35 posts out there on other sites and they are all using say Genesis themes as the anchor text pointing back to your page, odds are that page took a hit with this adjustment. And if you think it through it makes sense.
One of Google’s biggest challenges is to filter out spam and they are spammed to death every day. Now Google has ALL of the data for all indexed pages and they analyze the pages that are linking back to you. Now if you had that same anchor text on all 35 websites, just how natural does that look to you? What are the odds that 35 different webmasters decided to use the same phrase as a link back to your page? Nil right?
So it’s my opinion that Google is identifying this duplicate content as spam, or at least partially spam and as a result it is lowering the page’s ranking in the SERP.
Where my backlinking clients mixed up the anchor text on their posts there was no change in their page ranking.
So how do you fix it?
Well for sure going forward you have to mix up the phrases you use for anchor text. You can grab related phrases off of Google’s Keyword Tool. By adding new content with new phrases to the links you already have you dilute the impact of the duplicate phrases. In other words those phrases make up a smaller percentage of the total as you add content.
Another tactic depends on how good your relationship is with the sites that you are linked to. Contact the webmaster and see if he or she will change the anchor text in existing content. If you have a good relationship I think changing the links will be the fastest way to recover your ranking.
It appears that nobody was excluded from this adjustment. It didn’t matter if your site was about free premium WordPress themes or infrared cameras it looks like the links pointing to your page were reevaluated.
What happens from here? Nobody really knows. The tweak affected thousands of sites and Google will take some time to see what impact it had on the quality of search results. There may be more to the adjustment to come or they may roll it back to where it was before. As I get info I’ll be sure to pass it on to you.
If you have any questions or ideas, please share them with all of us by leaving them in the comment box below.
Written by James Martell
You will receive actionable tips and *solid* money making advice directly from James Martell when you subscribe to his “Affiliate Buzz” affiliate marketing podcasts (since 2003). James has been a full-time affiliate marketer since 1999 and has been *successfully* teaching others to do the same since 2001. A sought-after speaker, James has presented at Affiliate Summit, Commission Junction University, Digital River Lab, Pubcon, The System Seminar, and many others.
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