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The Panda Returns

Panda Strikes AgainYou know something is up when you walk into a room and the kids suddenly get quiet and each of them has “that look” on their face. A mother’s gut knows something is up.

Well, when I clicked on my statistics page for my page views, one of my sites had “that look” while the other sites were playing nicely and didn’t even notice that I walked into the room. The site with the guiltiest look was my Tidbits and Stuff site. That’s the site that is prone to get into trouble.

Cause of the Look

I noticed in the past three days my Google earnings were off the chart. The last time they were that good, it was because Panda was about to strike. So I did a bit of snooping and found an October 5th tweet from Matt Cutts in which he advised of Panda changes over the next few weeks.

Matt Cutts Tweet

The Panda Update and Site Reaction

As I looked at my children, er, I mean sites, their response to Panda was expected. You see, Tidbits and Stuff is sometimes shunned by Google and then picked back up again. This is because I gave birth to Tidbits and Stuff before I knew anything about web parenting. I made the majority of my mistakes there.

Just like any good parent, you never give up on your kids. I kept Tidbits & Stuff but realized it would always be vulnerable to Google’s algorithm changes unless I did a total overhaul. Not wanting to do the overhaul, I use Tidbits as my online playground in which I continue to make mistakes.

Problematic Characteristics

As I analyze Tidbits and compare it to the rest of my sites, Tidbits has two characteristics that my other sites don’t:

  1. The focus is not single subject. You’ll find information on cooking, health, finance, pets, writing and more when you visit Tidbits and Stuff. The rest of my sites are focused and single subject.
  2. I used content from free article directories. I’d say about 50% of the content on Tidbits comes from free article directories while the rest is original. Some of the articles were from writers who requested to write a piece for the site and the rest I wrote myself.

What Am I Going to Do?

As far as Tidbits and Stuff goes, I’m not going to do a thing. I’ll write articles and place them there when the mood strikes. I’m sure Google’s algorithm will change again and Tidbits may find favor. If not, so be it. I’m used to the bumpy ride on Tidbits and Stuff. It taught and continues to teach me a lesson of what to do and what not to do.

Similarities with Other Sites

I see that Suite 101 and HubPages have also taken a hit with Panda this go around (again). The one thing I see that Tidbits, Suite and HubPages have in common is that they are not single-subject sites and they have a wide variety of authors. This is just my sitting at the kitchen counter observation.

Going Forward

Writing is an inside out sport. You learn a few rules (i.e., grammar, spelling and in the case of online writing SEO) and then do what your gut tells you. I’m going to keep on doing what I do and allow the Panda to do what it does.

After visiting Lis’ Passive Income Online blog and finding out about a free book writing tool called Scrivener, I’m motivated to get back to writing my books. Between ebooks, a few sites and Suite 101, I think I’ll be okay. Hopefully Panda was nice to you guys.

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Michael October 15, 2011, 1:52 pm

    I’m guessing if you deleted all the free articles from directories your traffic would improve. You can also use siloing or subdomains to separate out the content by category. I know you aren’t too worried about it with this site, but just a thought in case someday you want to bring its numbers up, or for those in a similar position.

    • Felicia October 15, 2011, 4:03 pm

      Thanks Michael. Maybe one day when I feel like taking on the task of shifting around 400 articles I’ll do it, but the way I see things now, it won’t happen anytime soon. I guess I’ll just have to take the Panda whuppin’ and move onto the next. 🙂

  • Terri October 16, 2011, 9:51 am

    Good Morning Felicia,

    This might seem like a dumb newbie question (well, it is), but when you speak of making money from your sites, you are speaking of placing Adwords or some other PPC advertising links on your sites?

    So in other words, people find your sites, read the information, and then click on your advertising links, and that’s how the money comes in?

    Just figuring out my next move.

    • Felicia October 16, 2011, 11:19 am

      No dumb question, Terr. Yes, I earn money through Google AdSense, Infolinks and any other affiliate links I have. I’ve learned not to write for or to my ads. I write for my audience and it’s up to the Ad folks to determine what ads to place on my site. Sometimes the ads work and sometimes not.

      When I’m real excited about a product, however, I write about it and use an affiliate link for the product. At least with an affiliate link, I know what type of ad will show up on my page.

  • Terri October 16, 2011, 11:29 am

    Okay, I get it now. And I totally agree with you; it’s best to just “do you”, write what speaks to you, and let the advertising gods decide the rest. I’m far more interested in sharing what’s on my mind and heart than thinking about how to outsmart these different programs, ranking systems, etc.

  • Debbi October 16, 2011, 5:18 pm

    Hi Felicia! Here I come out of my lurker corner again! It never ceases to amaze me how calmly you seem to weather the ever changing Panda algorithms. I wish I had an ounce of your patience! It’s probably why you’re so successful, because you just roll with the punches and keep on writing. Hopefully over the next few weeks things will even out again and we can all take our fingers off the panic button. I’m a firm believer that if you write original, informative and well-written content, you’ll be A-OK in the end, no matter where Panda decides to strike next. 🙂

    • Felicia October 17, 2011, 7:01 am

      Debbi, there are some things we can control and some things we can’t. Pandas seem to fall under the “Can’t Control” list. What I can control, however, is how I react to the Panda. I guess it’s time for me to get serious about my other options.

      I enjoy earning money through AdSense, but I’m finding the Google algorithms a bit too rocky for my liking. I have sites that traditionally don’t do well with Google AdSense, and those very sites never seem to be affected by algorithm changes. In addition to writing books, I’m going to work on ways to make those sites more profitable using sources other than Google. Not quite sure what it is yet, but it sure will be fun finding out.

      • Dianne October 18, 2011, 10:45 pm

        This is my main worry. I really want my blogs to be destination sites.

  • Lissie October 17, 2011, 5:02 am

    LOL I am an awful parent – I have abandoned “kids” all over the web – I just forget about them – and then look at them critically every year or so when they want their rego renewing!

  • Living in Washington DC October 17, 2011, 3:25 pm

    I was also suspecting an algorithm change. Your post confirmed my suspicions. My daily earnings have been off since last Saturday. Hopefully, everything will return back to normal soon. I don’t like this Panda…

    – Di

  • Dianne October 18, 2011, 10:43 pm

    One of my sites had an opposite effects, some the article shot up in ratings. Makes me a bit nervous. One minute you can be on top and the next…obliterated.

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