Panda 4.1 was released late last month, and according to Google, the search algorithm update uses more precise signals to identify low-quality sites, thereby ranking them lower. Some search professionals have surmised that thanks to Panda 4.1, websites that had been hit by Panda in the past but have made changes to improve their quality have are now starting to regain rankings. Google also says that this update will send more traffic to small- and medium-sized websites.
Blogs covering search trends have already done an excellent job of analyzing the sites most dramatically effected by the algorithm update, most notably Searthmetrics. Here we’ll use SimilarWeb PRO to look at web traffic to Panda 4.1’s biggest winners and losers. Tracking the rankings and SERP appearances of these sites definitely yields some food for thought, but let’s take a look at what Panda 4.1 means for their actual site visits.
Big traffic sites – winners&losers
Medium traffic sites – winners&losers
Medium traffic sites – winners&losers
Category by Category
On the macro level, we can see that certain categories are enjoying significantly more visits since the update, while and others seeing significantly less. Among the winners are news, content sites and download portals.
Among the losers are games, lyrics and some medical portal sites. Sites with “thin content” and aggregators have generally lost out as a result of Panda 4.1.
This games site had lost a lot of traffic in February, but the last 28 days show an uptick in traffic. Although games sites have generally not done well in Panda 4.1, this site is apparently an exception. Searchmetrics has reported that Comdotgame.com is seeing 1353% change in SEO visibility since the algorithm has rolled out, but our analysis indicates that the site’s usership has hardly grown proportionately.
After a pretty big dip in traffic at the beginning of the summer, this design blog is seeing a significant rise in traffic. This website has an average of 8.4 million visits per month over the last year but received an average of 190,000 visits daily over the past four weeks. As an example, we highlighted September 17, which yielded over 186,000 visits – and that wasn’t even the biggest day. This is nowhere near the user volume that Hongkiat.com enjoyed back in January, when it peaked at nearly 428,000 daily visits, but the site is definitely one of Panda 4.1’s major victors.
Babble is a medium-sized blog owned by Disney, where authors write about parenting and related lifestyle issues. The site took a major traffic hit in April, but it’s slowly climbing back up now, courtesy of Panda 4.1. We weren’t able to find any conclusive evidence indicating a change in editorial policy, but signs do point to the site’s usership recovery being driven by a move to stop aggregating content from elsewhere, instead publishing solely original posts.
Reader’s Digest was also hit by Panda in June, and the site is now seeing a healthy uptick in traffic. Since September 20, traffic has been steadily rising and has now reached an average of 80,000 daily visits.
HotelGuides.com is essentially a portal for hospitality information. Its traffic has been on a gradual decline since May, but the last 28 days have seen significant recovery, including one day, September 21, when the site was visited by 7,013 people.
From an average of 85,000 monthly visits, free-coloring-pages.com is now down to 60,000. The website is very thin on written content, with the bulk of its content consisting of images (printable images for kids to color in) and advertisements.
Find the Best provides “fast facts” about pretty much anything, but it’s all content that can be found elsewhere on the web. As of September 23, the site has experienced a 25% decline in daily visits, from about 750,000 to 500,000. Not as steep of a drop as the 70% lower search visibility reported by Searchmetrics, but still pretty big. Interestingly, when we look at the site’s volume of monthly visits over the past year, the big picture shows nothing but growth.
This is a fairly new website which had been steadily gaining traffic since its launch in April. But the site does not provide any original content at all, so it was hit especially hard by Panda 4.1. Average daily visits have been falling off since September 20. The site hasn’t seen 1000 daily visits since September 29.
Another fairly new website, mybillcom.com was rising in traffic, with an average of 15,000 monthly visits over the past four months and 55,709 visitors in the month of July. But since September 22, traffic is way down.
This website is a search engine, for people and public information, all scraped and pulled from other sites – a prime example of “thin content.” It previously enjoyed 2.1 million average monthly visits, but the month of September shows a dip to 1.8 million.
Looking at the Big Trends
Panda 4.1, which hits sites toward the end of September, has had a major impact on some websites. Those that don’t provide much original content and repackage others’ content have seen serious declines in traffic as well as SEO visibility. On the flipside, the victors of 4.1 seem to be those that learned their lessons from previous Panda rollouts, recovering from the penalties that had set them back.
Next week we’ll dig deeper and look at what SimilarWeb PRO data shows us about the business performance of one Panda 4.1 winner, comparing that to the business performance of a Panda 4.1 loser.