How I Recovered from Panda by Banning Google
A panda might by a a cute animal but for most people who have a website and get traffic from search or rather mostly from Google it's worse than a zombie. Websites hit by one of the numerous so called Panda updates lose often a large percentage of their visitors and in many cases the businesses who own such websites go bankrupt.
This blog here has been among the highest ranked SEO blogs for years until one day in November of 2011 Google penalized it
during the Google Panda 2.8 update as far as I remember. This is not a real business blog I must admit, it's more just for fun, it doesn't earn money directly. I use it for testing and as a proof of concept. Thus I do not have time to care too much about it, I have to make money with client projects.
After the Panda update hit I was convinced that it was a false positive, my blog was always high quality so from one day to another it wasn't anymore? Nonsense. Google changed its ranking algorithm and my blog was collateral damage. Completely new and spammy blogs have ranked well instead of mine.
I thought I will check for duplicate content and similar common SEO issues with Google and fix them. I did. Nothing happened, my Google traffic was still almost non-existent. I got mostly off topic visits from people wanting to steal my images or to leave manual comment spam on my blog.
So I decided not to waste my time with rebuilding my blog from scratch to please the new Google algorithm.
An eye for an eye
Instead I decided to ban Google search altogether and to focus on my writing again and the people I really care about in the SEO community and elsewhere on the Web. So I added a meta tag telling Google (and other search engines) not to index my blog at all. It was really liberating, my writing improved significantly I was much more enthusiastic about blogging again. I didn't have as much time as in the early days of my blog where it got hugely popular all over the world but I still managed to write two posts a week in most cases.
So now a year later I noticed my blog ranking again at #13 in Google.com for [seo blog]
despite the noindex meta tag. I though it was just a short hiccup but it wasn't, Google indexed my and ranked my on my old position for a day. Many other people noticed it as as well. I did not as good from the US. There I was only at #23 but it was still better than the below top 100 I got before Panda hit me. I'm not in the Google index anymore while I'm writing this so do not check whether you can find me. The noindex mate tag works again. I made a screen shot though.
What apparently happened was that the Google Panda penalty got lifted.
Why? There are a few possible reasons:
- After numerous additional Panda updates they may have fixed their algo to root out false positives. That sounds logical but it's difficult to find out as my site wasn't indexed most of the time so we do not know when the actual change took place and whether a Panda update has been released at that time.
- An embarrassed Google engineer finally looked up what happened and improved the algo to reinstate my authority. This is very unlikely, I'm not an SEO VIP and I doubt that Google engineers care for my blog. I do not read Matt Cutts' blog either. I haven't since 2007.
- As I have written many postings and also engaged more on social media with my peers and beyond plus got a few topical and authority links along the way these new signals may have outweighed the negative Panda red flags. It could be but I am not sure I got that many more shares and links than previously. I do not count them very meticulously.
The irony of it all
What's the point of this post then? This question probably: isn't it ironic? Other people have spend months to please Google working on their sites for countless hours. Why fix something that is not broken? I have used that time for actually blogging, hanging out with people online, and implementing old and new ideas I had. For example I was able to finally declare my blog articles to be Creative Commons licensed. Google does not allow to publish the same content on more than one URL. All the others get deleted from the index in the worst case as duplicates.
So now I know that I'm back where I belong in Google search, having the rankings I deserve, even when only my homepage gets indexed.
Will I remove the "noindex" meta tag? I don't think so. I haven't fully recovered from the days of Google enslavement yet. My headlines still sound a bit over-optimized to please the Google overlords. I still haven't found the traffic sources that will allow me to become independent from the search monopolist. I didn't have the time yet to optimize my blog for people. My social media integration is not optimal, you can barely read my blog on a mobile, I still cater mainly to the relatively small SEO audience instead of the large ones I did in the early days.
Google made me fat and lazy.
Like in real life I want to become fit and active again. Maybe then I will be strong enough to deal with the Google bully and be able to say no when he tries to force me change my site or writing style for him. Google wants my content as their business model is to get it for free to put ads around it and to pose as a search engine while in reality they are just the biggest ad agency in the world. I hate ads like most people do. I block them.
Why should I give away my content for free to Google to pollute the Web around it with their text ads?
So my miraculous Panda recovery doesn't make overtly happy. Maybe I am not thankful. After all almighty Google has forgiven me! Still I wanted you to tell you about it. Letting go of your Google woes may result in the disappearance of the problems created by Google. To paraphrase Bob Marley: no Google no cry!