Panda 4.0 – Google’s latest algorithm change publicized this week – isn’t a “sweeping overhaul” but merely another change Google is making in their continued quest to rid the web of spammy content and sites. What happened to eBay is no surprise, and they aren’t alone.
If It Looks Like Spam…
In Larry Kim’s article, “ebay Just Lost 80% of its Organic Rankings”, it’s clear that eBay implemented a strategy that was destined to crater their search rankings from the start. If you look at Google’s pubs on Panda (and SEO in general), it’s all about what they call “High Quality Content” — and clearly eBay’s strategy was anything but. Their series of linked pages that contain in-site search, ads and little content that is valuable to the searcher is spammy – and looks spammy to Google. In this case, Google is following the “rules” they’ve published and is punishing spammy, low-quality content tactics — because quality content is good for the searcher (Google’s “customer”). I wrote about this on our blog when I asked, “Has Google’s Panda Update Affected You?”
Moral: strive for high quality, relevant content; don’t be spammy and don’t try to fool Google.
In regard to AdWords — here are my thoughts on that portion of the article: If you are going to run an AdWords campaign but not manage it properly, you should not be surprised that it does not work. Running an AdWords campaign but not managing it is like buying a treadmill and not using it — it’s not the treadmill’s fault if you don’t see results.
Moral: Paid Search and Organic Search require strategy and management by someone who knows what they are doing with a proven track record of non-spammy tactics.
eBay created a major AdWords campaign that was by all accounts completely spammy. We’ve all seen the spammy eBay ads that show up for random search terms and wondered why they’ve gotten by with that for as long as they have. I’ve never personally looked up “vomit,” but I have looked up other terms and spotted the spammy AdWords results. Poorly managed AdWords campaigns with those dynamically inserted terms are spammy in Google’s eyes – and they denigrate the eBay brand because it makes them look stupid.
Moral: don’t be spammy.
eBay did a study and published it stating that AdWords doesn’t work? Wow.
As a company of eBay’s size, that’s going to certainly catch Google’s attention and lead them to investigate not only their AdWords practices but also their organic search practices. If they knew what they were doing was spammy, but they were getting away with it any way (as they had for quite some time), kinda stupid to poke the sleeping bear to see if he wakes up as it appears happened in this case. If they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong in Google’s eyes – but they planned to publish a study saying Google’s main revenue generator doesn’t work – kinda stupid to not double-check that their strategies were rock solid before publishing.
Moral – don’t poke the sleeping bear unless you are sure you’re ready for a fight.
Bottom line — what’s a small business owner to do? Create quality content, don’t be spammy, manage your organic search engine optimization AND your paid search campaigns (or better yet, HIRE someone who knows what they are doing to create a strategy and ongoing implementation program for you), and you’ll see your results grow consistently over time while avoiding Google penalties.