Google Re-Indexed the World, Decided it’s 83% Bigger

Virtual perceptions grow within Google

By now, online publishers have acknowledged Google’s Panda update, which began rolling out in late February.

To discover how the algorithm change affected Mequoda System publishers, we recently ran an analysis. This analysis focused on some of our Mequoda Gold Member clients, for whom we manage and create Google Visibility Reports.

Mequoda System publishers and the Panda update

It turns out the algorithm update has fundamentally changed the number of Google organic listings (search engine results) that are getting returned on many keyword searches.

From one day before the update, to the day after, an increase in search results of 83% was experienced. In this virtual world, Google is setting parameters. All sets of perceptions that we see as humans are dependent upon parameters we use to experience those perceptions. Considering the digital environment, we are very dependent on Google to see what content is out there.

The irony in this scenario is that there wasn’t really an increase in content. Google merely changed the way they report the results. My personal suspicion is that Google is now reporting more listings per website. Panda appears to be going deeper into what they consider to be trusted websites. This is how they push down untrustworthy websites.

All of the Mequoda Gold Member websites we analyzed experienced an increase in the amount of Google listings that are getting returned for their targeted keyword phrases. The percent increase in Google listings varied for the ten clients we analyzed; all experienced an increase of at least 15%, one experienced an increase over 100%, another had an increase over 200% and one other saw an increase of almost 9,000%.

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Google’s PageRank

Google assigns numbers between 0 and 10 to all web pages it indexes. These rankings are based on the “importance” of a web page by looking at what other pages link to it, as well as other factors. Inbound links from reputable websites are viewed as positive votes, which help in getting a better PageRank. The higher the PageRank, the more likely it is to appear towards the top of search results.

Most Mequoda Gold Member Systems have a PageRank of five, six or seven. I believe when the Panda update took place, it focused on sites with a PageRank of five or higher and went deeper into its content.

This allowed for a reporting of more listings per site. All that additional content likely ended up bumping lower-ranking content down.

How to handle the effect of Panda

Some websites’ traffic has suffered greatly at the hands of Google and Panda. Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt recently said during his first-quarter earnings call that, “as compared to the levels before the first February change, we saw a net decline in search engine referrals of 20 percent.”

For more on the Panda update and how it’s affected our keyword research and content optimization strategy, I spoke with Mequoda Group’s Keyword Specialist Norann Oleson.

Norann has the task of managing and updating the Google visibility reporting for all our Mequoda Gold Members on a quarterly basis. Although Google’s algorithm has changed, Norann said that her job has not changed. “Panda has not really changed what I do. I still prepare a report and give the clients a brief overview of what to look for, like certain things that may change on the keyword level.”

One aspect Norann did suggest paying attention to is the effect of the Google listings increase on our Keyword Competitive Index (KCI). Our KCI calculation measures the relationship of keyword demand (popularity) to keyword competition (organic Google listings). “We used to recommend searching for KCIs of one or better, because these keywords experience equal to or more searches than competitive organic listings in Google. However, since  organic competition has gone way up since Panda, KCIs have been getting smaller, so it’s necessary to adjust your thinking.”

Overall, the best way to handle Google algorithm changes is to focus on the quality of content produced and published. Google has stated this fact, we have continued to teach it and our clients have only seen positive results.

For more on how Demand Media was impacted by Panda, take a look at this article from cnet.

    Jaan K.

    I haven’t looked at the toolbar PR in years. No need for it anymore as it have ZERO influence on rankings.

    I must also say I am not a big fan of ranking reports any more. I run a few for fun, but Google/Bing Webmaster Tools and Analytics can tell a far truer story for the clients.

    Keep up the good work informing the editorial masses on how important SEO is when constructing content, meta data, headers and links.

    You should consider offering a instant email notification system on comments. I had no idea of any responses until I happened to come back.

      Chris S.

      Hi Jaan,

      Thanks for the input. Analytics and Webmaster Tool are certainly very telling. I am currently looking into the instant email notification.


    Jaan K.

    Please tell me your not referring to Google toolbar PR of 1-10?

      Chris S.

      Hi Jaan,

      Thanks for the response. Since the Google PageRank toolbar isn’t considered to be the most accurate, we typically use other tools to determine page rank. Matt Cutts recently said he expects a PageRank update in the Toolbar soon, so perhaps it will become more accurate, and play a bigger role in SEO going forward.

      As an SEO guy, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

      Thanks again for commenting.


    Pete A.

    This all reminds me of the stock market. A perfectly good company does business one day the same as the next, yet their “value” can vary differently (up or down) based on outside forces. Unfortunately, people trying to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay get punished, in effect, by people who have learned to game the system.

    Well, at least Google has tried to fight back against the SEO gamers who flood the Web with trivial information trying to generate higher rankings and clicks they can sell to advertisers. Hopefully, in the end, “quality” will win out after all.


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