Google Panda Update UK Analysis
Many of you will know that I work in house in a company that operates a pan European ticket marketplace, Seatwave.
Its a great industry to work in (lots of nights out, constantly evolving marketplace etc) but one of the drawbacks that we struggled with historically has been content sourcing. While there are a million things that can be said about most artists (just look at Justin Bieber on twitter as point in case), the actual mechanism of buying your tickets isn’t the piece of the value chain that fans are interested in or indeed passionate about.
However since the MayDay update, the writing has been on the wall for all eCommerce sites, big or small – either get content, or get out.
That’s pretty much the same message in both the Panda and MayDay updates, so why people are all of a sudden upset I’m not really sure.
I track competitive SERPS for around 700 queries – these are primarily “artist name + tickets” searches – for instance “Kylie Minogue Tickets” is a good example. If you’re interested I use Advanced Web Ranking by Caphyon for this reporting, I’ve found it to be the most dependable of all my rank trackers and I fully endorse it.
Lets look at an example:
Sold Out Event Tickets are the oldest of all the secondary ticket marketplaces in the UK (probably in Europe for that matter) and are part of TicketMaster, the monopolistic entertainment ticketing company with an overwhelming market share worldwide.
For years now they have maintained competitive rankings down purely to a few factors:
1) domain age
2) links from Ticketmaster (again, the authority in this vertical)
They have never however invested time or money into:
1) unique content (all theirs is aggregated from a variety of sources, and whatever is unique is so far below the fold its irrelevant to the random surfer.
2) social interaction (they have none)
3) UGC (reviews etc)
The screenshot below shows my Advanced Web Ranking data comparing yesterday to today:
(please note, this screenshot was taken a few hours into my AWR scrape, I will replace it with the full update tomorrow)
Its important to point out at this point that this isnt the only site affected in this update, in reality the “lower order” of automated sites have all been hit to a certain degree, but as this example have consistanly ranked well down to domain level factors the drop looks particularly bad.
Running the same analysis on the fresher generation of sites, they are up on average – not in my opinion due to any improvements on those properties, just that SoldOutEventTickets and other players with similar site structures have been penalised.
Analysing Site Content
Take a look at these pages as a direct comparison:
As you can see on the above examples, the affected site is missing “unique” content, UGC, and social signals. This is nothing new, this is really the SEO 101 stuff that google have been preaching and reputable SEO’s have been practicing for years now. This update is just weeding out sites that havent followed the mantra of google in the 21st century.
Arguably the domains that have been booted in this update had few “page level indicators” of value, all of the strength that was keeping them ranked well came from domain level metrics.
If that’s the case then this update is probably good for “the little guys” out there that have the mobility to create great content, but don’t have a monolithic domain behind them that’s unfairly perhaps creating results that have meant they can outrank better content on smaller sites.
The Sum Up
If you don’t have a content rich site, you’re not going to get any love out of google any more. Make sure your sites are well updated, fresh, have compelling content and data, utilise UGC, push social signals etc.
IMAGE DISCOVERY CREDITS:
I asked on twitter earlier if anyone had any “good” images of panda’s to use, the first one was suggested by Simon Panting, a self proclaimed apple fanboy and purveyor of banter, the second was suggested by Bob Meijer, a good friend of mine and co-incidentally a London based googler.