St. Patrick’s Day Massacre: Panda 3.3 Post-Mortem Thoughts

| March 18, 2012 | 12 Comments

NOTE: This is a day late for St. Patrick’s Day, but I was out drinking green beer yesterday. 🙂

The most recent Google Panda 3.3 update has claimed many casualties in the Internet Marketing world. Most prominently, this update seems to be targeting specific blog networks that have been used for backlinking purposes. As a result of huge de-indexation of blogs (translation: removing them from Google’s index), many have lost not only their blogs but their rankings as well.

Google Panda 3.3 after devouring 20% of ALN

Fun Fact: Pandas like to eat blog networks

One particular target was Authority Link Network, which is an extremely popular service as of late. According to other reports it’s been said that they have lost approximately 20% of the blogs powering the network. Recently, BuildMyRank closed its doors to the general public, leaving many without a chance to use their hybrid network. Many suspect a similar kind of de-indexation problem, but likely they are just trying to preserve what they have in their network currently.

In short, Google is on the warpath yet again, for the third time in recent months following the January Panda 3.2 update and the “ads-above-the-fold” update that affected many.

Blog Networks Not Only On The Radar

To my dismay, I recently learned that Wes from Chasing Pace had his AdSense account banned, for invalid clicks apparently. I know of more than just a few cases of the AdSense banhammer coming down upon seemingly innocent victims as of late, which is extremely disappointing. The AdSense team isn’t the same as the webspam team led by Matt Cutts, but it seems that they are more on the prowl for Terms of Service violations more than ever.

Rolling With The Punches?

Want to be in IM? You'll need boxing gloves.

Want to be in IM? You'll need these.

This is often a term I hear from the gurus in the IM world. It’s not easy to do when you’re starting out, but if you’re serious about maintaining a business then these changes from Google are something that you’re going to have to deal with. I suspect that many people will just outright quit the niche marketing game and move onto other methods of making money online. That might be a good strategy. For me, I am still sticking with AdSense until I meet my goals for the year, but during the journey I think that I will be researching other methods to diversify my portfolio. Amazon or some other affiliate program makes the most logical sense, but that’s not to say that there are other possible revenue streams out there. I am so intrigued and interested in SEO right now, that I could see myself running a service in the future.

Despite my usage of ALN I don’t seem to be affected too badly. I’ve dropped rankings across the board, but for some of my sites I’ve actually been getting several natural, organic links from authority sites in those niches that I believe has helped stabilize my spots. I have some information/educational niches and I have some highly authoritative domains linking to me, which is good. But it’s time to retire ALN and other networks like it.

I’m confident that what I’m doing is right, and that I have quality stuff out there. I think that the whole niche marketing aspect of IM gets a negative rap because people think that putting up small sites are somehow bad for the Internet and the public in general. If you’re putting out quality content, what should it matter? Sadly, it doesn’t matter what you or I think, or what the public thinks. It’s actually about what Google wants, despite what anybody else tries to tell you. At the end of the day they are a business, and they’re driven by the bottom line eventually. Even if this means shutting out the little guys in the end.

You Should Have Seen This Coming

If you cared to check your history you’ll see that Google has done changes a few times before with respect to Panda that have wiped out entire businesses overnight. 2012 and beyond will be no different, and given the amount of change we’ve seen in such a short period of time I think that we can expect that constant changing and tweaking of the landscape is inevitable.

Often we may realize this, but once we see a measure of success we tend to rest on our laurels and keep doing what’s working. Not many adore change, but what we have to realize is that nothing lasts forever, and to stay in business successfully I think that you need to be ahead of the curve at all times. This means trying out ideas, new concepts, etc. This can be applied to niche research, marketing strategies, content, backlinking, monetization methods, etc. It’s enough to make the average joe exhausted with so much choice.


I tend to look at changes like this in another way:

  • More things for me to experiment and tinker with.
  • Some of my competition just quit, sweet! (This is huge)
  • I have a chance to revisit my strategy, tweak things, change it up, etc.
  • I can split test old methods vs. new methods.

What’s Coming Next

With respect to Google, I don’t know, but I’ll bet that their whole “quality score” ideal will extend beyond what’s on your site right now. If you haven’t done so already, you need to take action and start trying out new things. There’s enough information out there: pick something you like and get going. Then, TEST. Test, test, test.

Has Panda 3.3 Affected You In Any Way?

Somehow I think it has only affected people who’ve gone “all-in” on blog network spam, but I could be wrong. If you’ve experienced some difficulties with the most recent update, let’s hear it!


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Category: Thoughts

Comments (12)

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  1. Jason says:

    I’ve not seen any drops in my rankings, but I also have taken it nice and slow with my back linking approach (and I haven’t used ALN). Though I’m sure my services will be hit soon enough.

    I am thinking that this will propel people into quitting the niche site game. Unfortunately, the internet marketers are probably already creating product on the next new big thing and these people will be lining to give them some money.

    Right now, I’m shifting most of my focus to my little app business. I’m still working on niche sites though, mainly just Link Authority and couple new articles to my sites.

    • Andre Garde says:

      This is actually what I’m counting on (people leaving the niche site game). Those that are willing to endure will bounce back. Sadly I agree with you in that this mess has just made another cash grab opportunity for the unscrupulous ones out there.

      The message is pretty clear though. Quality throughout trumps all, on- or offpage. I noticed that LA’s moderation team turned *extremely strict* in the past few weeks. It’s good that they’re keeping the quality extremely high. I’ve seen some peoples’ article submissions to BMR and I can tell you they wouldn’t fly in LA.

      I’m actually researching Amazon and Youtube methodologies right now to diversify. This will take some time to setup, probably another 3 months. In the meantime, I have to trust that my sites will pull in some more earnings in the months to come. Success for me outside of IM was always done through hard work and consistency. Never had the super-stardom that others seem to enjoy, but I don’t think that matters if you’re in it for the marathon and not the sprint.

  2. Joe says:

    My sites seems to be so far, touch wood!

    When I say OK I mean they are still in the slump they’ve been in since the last big Google update hit them in October 2011. They don’t appear to have taken another hit recently but perhaps it is yet to reach the UK?

    Don’t think I could take another knock back.

    • Andre Garde says:

      If they haven’t moved then you’re probably fine by now. Although if they haven’t recovered since October, maybe it’s better just to make new sites unless they’re still making money at this point?

      • Joe says:

        Some are still making money, I’m trying hard to get them back into the top sports in Google but not having much luck as not much time to spare.

        I haven’t got the time or resources to start any new sites really.

        When my earnings pick up again I will invest it in new sites but for now its about repairing what I have already.

  3. Hi Andre, here we are a week after you’ve written this post and finally my BMR links are catching up on me – quite a few of my sites have slid “nicely” down the rankings, but that’s only occurred in the past day or two. Ouch!

    So, I’m another SEO sorta guy who’s had enough and I’m outta here!

    LOL! No, not really. I’ve still got a few small sites that I’ll keep on pestering Google with, but maybe from now onwards, it will be more out of experimentation than purely about making hard cash.

    As you know, I’m moving more towards “social” stuff now, which previously I loathed – SEO has always been my game for the past 4 and more years. Fortunately, that loathing has ceased and its becoming much more of an embracing. Would be nice to think that when you are building your IM income, it does not all come crashing down one day simply because Google swipes its vast wand.

    Onwards and upwards, right?

    • Andre Garde says:

      Strangely the harder SEO becomes the more interested I am. Sometimes I think the line is blurred between dedication and sheer obsession. 🙂

      I’m definitely trying the social route for this site. I’m fine with Twitter and my small band of merry men there. I haven’t used Facebook in years since I deleted my account, but it seems like I should start using it.

      • That was the same for me Andre – an obsession with SEO and Google, which still remains. The number of times I’ve read things like “don’t waste your time with SEO and Google because its 2 steps forward then 2 steps back again” and I ignored it thinking “what do they really know?”. But its starting to hit home more now, particularly because I make more money from my blog (which I’ve never SEO’d in the slightest, other than on-page) than I now do from my SEO efforts. And the reason for that is because Google have a habit of tripping me up. Here we go again what with the BMR debacle.

        I think using Facebook if you have a blog is a good route to take, otherwise it can turn into a real time suck. Good for meeting folks from around the world too, but then so is blogging.

        Its not all about making money, is it? Its about the amount of fun you can have whilst making a living that is the main thing. It is for me now, but up till recently, it was more about grinding to make an income. I’m having more fun meeting people due to my blogging activities than I am watching my niche sites being dumped by Google over and over. Time to move on, I think.


        • Andre Garde says:

          You’re fortunate that you have your personal blog as a revenue generating property. I’m not there yet, since I don’t have 4 years of SEO under my belt, let alone 4 months really. I’d like to get there someday. I just need the bills paid, keep up for inflation and some savings, and I’d be set really. 🙂

          For now it’s the grind. Google sure isn’t making it easy.

          • You don’t need four years + of SEO under your belt though Andre. Look at Pat Flynn (as we all seem to do on a regular basis). How many years has he been blogging – less than four, and yet he makes something of a healthy online income (;-)) in a variety of “markets”, including SEO. Pat is obviously not an SEO expert but he’s positioned himself to seem like he is, and he’s done a very successful job of that too.

            Believe it or not, but I get most of my traffic to my blog still from the Warrior Forum “epic” that is now 2 years old. Next up is the traffic I get from Pat Flynn’s blog due to the Backlink Strategy That Works post.

            My girlfriend kept nagging me not to do that Warrior Forum stuff because I’d not make any money from it. I had no intention of making any money from it – it just kinda, erm… happened 😉

            But the point being – I was not classed as an SEO expert until I gained public favour by doing the WF thing. Its all about how you position yourself, not about the amount of time you’ve invested into learning something. The smart guys and girls often don’t know much about any particular market – they just leverage other people’s skills to get to where they want to go.


  4. Andre Garde says:

    Point well taken, Jo, thanks for that. Especially your last paragraph, that’s really making me think…

    You’re absolutely right. Onwards and upwards!

  5. “Has Panda 3.3 Affected You In Any Way?”
    — Yes!! Waaah! my rankings are slowly slipping away from the first page. 🙁

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