In a follow up to the post I published yesterday on the Top 20 “Losers” from Google’s Panda UK Update, one of the worst hit companies was Ciao.co.uk, a Microsoft owned company that was leading an EU competition case against Google. Accusations from Microsoft state that Google is purposely using the Panda algorithm update to attack Ciao in an effort to reduce its rankings.
Ciao.co.uk was involved in initiating an EU investigation into Google in November 2010. Microsoft claims that Google has used its dominant position to limit rivals products. The Panda update was designed to lower the overall positioning of content-farms and other low-quality websites and is part of a larger effort to reduce the amount of webspam that has permeated the search results for years.
Google’s head of search evaluation, Scott Huffman, said the accusation was “almost absurd” to suggest that the results were rigged. Of course "almost absurd" is no quite the same as “completely absurd.” Google and Microsoft have a great deal of animosity towards each other and are no strangers to the enmity that has existed between the two corporations for years.
Looking at the list of site that have been negatively affected by the Panda appears to show that most site on the list have been legitimately penalized by Panda. Panda was specifically designed to attack product comparison sites, reviews sites and voucher code sites; and Ciao is no different.
After taking just a precursory look at the Ciao website, the site is found to publish duplicate reviews on multiple pages and sites. Ciao is continually regurgitating massive amounts of content. This is exactly what Panda was targeting site for. One of the reviews on the site that I checked was republished in its entirety on over 30 individual pages and on no less than 3 other websites.
Majestic SEO reports 23 200 000 backlinks coming from 63 000 unique domains, which is an average of 368 links from each domain. Even when looking at the single domain: http://www.ciao.co.uk/, there are 157 049 backlinks coming from 1027 unique domains.
That averages 153 (157 049/1027=153) links form each domain.
From the backlinks analyzed from Majestic, this was the data over 10 000 incoming backlinks grouped by IP block.
|IP Block||# of Links|
One of the worst offenders was http://small-business-service.com/ which has over 10974 links pointing to ciao.co.uk from a single IP.
On the site, a visitor can see the huge proliferation of spammy, low-quality links that this site engages in. The total number of links to all pages on the ciao domain including sub domains and redirects was even more astonishing:
Pages Indexed: 19,174,884
# of Backlinks Links: 23,199,785
# of Unique Domains: 62,886
It would appear that the newest iteration of the Panda algorithm update form Google is doing a great job on catching the low-quality sites and dealing with them quite justly. The new algorithm certainly needs some tweaking as many quality sites took penalties as well.
As lesser quality sites are displaced, those sites that do offer a quality user experience, use legitimate linking strategies and can offer quality content will begin to see their potential rankings increase.
Beanstalk is currently in the process of testing organic vs. non-organic strategies in an attempt to challenge the effectiveness of Panda’s filtering capabilities. Watch for our 3 part blog series on this topic coming soon!