Google's Panda Update: Haters, Cheaters and ConsequencesWhenever Google has a major algorithm change or update, like clockwork, you can count on a huge army of “haters” to come pouring out of the woodwork complaining about the injustice of it all. Google’s last major update, “Panda” was no exception. The criticizing and complaining came fast and furious and non-stop. And even though the update occurred months ago, people are still posting diatribes about it on websites across the Internet. Sheesh…get over it, already!

Or, as they say in the hood, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game!” <<—-(Lisa @ Greatson’s fav saying!)

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about those individuals whose website took a hit, who are just venting – blowing off a little steam. I can appreciate and understand their frustration.

No, I’m talking about all those Google haters out there (you know who you are) – malcontents who gripe and complain about anything and everything Google does – for no other reason than the fact they hate Google for its sheer and utter dominance.

I’m particularly amused by those individuals who threaten they are going to get revenge and teach Google a lesson. They say they’re going to boycott Google and start optimizing their sites for Yahoo and Bing. Yep, that’ll show Google who’s boss alright.

The fact of the matter is, they should have been optimizing for Yahoo and Bing all along. You should NEVÉR put all your eggs in one basket – even if that basket happens to be the most powerful search engine on the planet.

Diversification wins the day – always has. Be smart, and try to get as much traffic as you possibly can from all three major search engines. You can start by registering your site with all three search engines. To register your site with Google: Google Webmaster Tools.

The process is similar with Yahoo: Yahoo Site Explorer, and Bing: Bing Webmaster Tools.

What are the benefits of registering your site with the search engines? There are many including:

o Keyword relevancy percentage grading

o Access to top search queries on the respective search engines

o Access to crawl errors, search engine feedback on sitemaps and robots.txt

o Latest data regarding incoming links and internal links

o Helpful and constructive suggestions for HTML optimization

o Valuable insight into crawling and indexing activity on your site

…Just to name a few.

And just like during the heyday of the Big 3 automakers, GM, Ford and Chrysler, when GM was unquestionably the most powerful automobile company on the planet, on the Internet, the Big 3 are Google, Yahoo and Bing. And Google is unquestionably the most dominant search engine on the planet.

But despite Google’s dominance, it’s still important to optimize your site for all three major search engines. Because in addition to the aforementioned benefits, Google is losing market share (albeit slightly), while new-kid-on-the-block Bing is rapidly gaining market share.

“Google lost 16 percent of its market share. It dropped from 73.9 percent last year to just shy of 64 percent. Bing on the other hand grew handsomely. In fact, Bing grew its market share a whopping 75% to 17 percent of the search engine market from 9.7 percent last May 2010.(Source: CompetePulse)

This fact is bolstered even further when I analyze my own stats. Even though the vast majority of my search engine traffic still comes from Google, I’m starting to see more and more traffíc coming from both Yahoo and Bing consistently, instead of sporadically like before.

Speaking of Bing, Roger Janik, President and Founder of, has written an excellent article about Bing’s recent surge, as well as Google’s recent loss in market share titled, Google Losing Market Share in Search Engine Wars.

But getting back to Google’s algorithm changes, the following are a timeline of Google’s major updates:

o 2003-05-01 “Fritz” update
o 2003-05-16 “Florida” update
o 2007-01-25 Googlebombs “defused” update
o 2009-02-20 “Vince” update
o 2010-05-01 “Mayday” update
o 2011-02-24 “Panda” update
o 2011-05-10 “Panda 2.1” update
o 2011-06-16 “Panda 2.2” update (Source:

We all know Google implements these earth-shattering and game-changing updates from time to time. But instead of griping about it, have you ever stopped to consider why Google has these updates? I have, and whether you agree with its methods or not, Google has always maintained its mission is to deliver “the most relevant and useful search results possible.”

Unlike a lot of cynics out there, I believe that’s exactly what Google is trying to do – deliver the most relevant and useful search results possible. But that’s not the only reason for Google’s perpetual algorithm changes. Google is also concerned about maintaining the integrity of its search results, while trying to stay one step ahead of cheaters who relentlessly attempt to manipulate Google’s SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). And it’s not always the usual suspects either.

“Google built its business on the strength of algorithms that yield speedy results. The company constantly refines those formulas, and sometimes takes manual action to penalize companies that it believes use tricks to artificially rise in search rankings. Recently, it has cracked down on retailers J.C. Penney Co. and Inc. Google acknowledged it “can and should do better” to beat back sites that “copy content from other websites” or provide information that is “just not very useful” but are ranked highly anyway.” (Source: Wall Street Journal) was penalized for utilizing link exchanges that violated Google’s WebMaster Guidelines in an effort to effectively gain an unfair advantage in Google’s SERPs.

Overstock allegedly offered 10% discounts to teachers and students in exchange for links on coveted .edu websites. Exchanging links for a discount is a clear and flagrant violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. As a consequence of being spanked by Google, Overstock’s sales dipped 5 percent. In addition, Overstock suffered a whopping 32 percent loss in organic traffic. And while a 5 percent dip in sales might not sound all that significant for a Fortune 100 company like Overstock which had revenues of $1.1 billion in 2010, it can potentially amount to tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Like I said earlier, just like elections have consequences, so too does cheating!

By David Jackson (c) 2011