How did Google Panda update on small sites affected you?

The Truth Behind Google Panda Update On Small Sites (Hummingbird)

Some of you might not have realized this but Google Panda Update on Small Sites (Hummingbird) took placed approximately on 21st August 2013. Yes, it happened and I’m not joking.

This basically went live right after Matt Cutts gave a quick shout on Twitter as seen below:

Matt Cutt's Twitter shout on small sites ranknig well

According to my sources, this particular Google Panda Update (Hummingbird) was reported not a few but from all of the major SEO blogs in the world. However, there was no comment given by Google on the matter.

Latest update by Google on 26th September 2013 on the update as below:

Google announced the Hummingbird update. We believe this update maybe associated with what we’re calling the Panda Small Sites update.

Q: How big a change is Hummingbird? Singhal (a Google engineer) says it’s as big as the change to the last algorithm, known as Caffeine. It happened about a month ago (late August).

Q: How specifically is Hummingbird better: Singhal says it’s essentially to better answer the much more complex queries people are making. It impacts all kinds of queries, but far more effective on long, complex questions that we’re getting many more of now.

Q: Examples? Hard to be specific, but essentially, with more complex queries, the algorithm can better understand concepts vs. words as well as relationships between concepts.

Q: How is this different in nature from Caffeine? This is clearly more focused on ranking sites better for relevance, while Caffeine was more focused on better indexing and crawling of sites.

Hummingbird gave us an opportunity to rethink how we can reuse all these new services to improve search results.

Before we discuss further, I want to take the opportunity to share with all of you one of the best SEO tools I could not leave without … Fruition.

Fruition is a free SEO tool for bloggers
What is Fruition?

Introducing Fruition – freemium SEO / analytic tool for bloggers

Fruition is a tool used by several bloggers (including me) to check on our blogs’ analytics. Basically, this is a great tool if you are a SEO enthusiast or running an SEO agency.

For a normal blogger, you might find this tool rather useless (seriously speaking).

What Fruition does is that it offers you the ability to check on Google Updates or any penalty slapped by Google.

Fruition data or chart is pretty straight forward with accurate data and colours. It calculates the probability of a Google update towards your blog by measuring on the data (especially traffic) collected from Google Analytics.

Basically, the data collected are then compared with the ‘before and after’ stats from the date of the update.

Obviously, you could do this manually but I would rather have a SEO program or tool to that for me. Fruition doesn’t only collect data from your Google Analytics but as well as comparing the data with other big SEO websites to verify on the information.

Fruition is a great SEO tool to check on Google Penalty
One of Fruition’s stats sorted out by date

What I love most is the colour schemes provided by Fruition.

Green – positive impact

Yellow – no impact

Orange – high likelihood of negative impact

Red – negative impact

This means that for every news release, you are (indirectly) bound to understand how Google works if you do your ‘homework’. I will explain more on this in a moment time.

*Looking for Fruition link? Free link is given at the bottom of the page 🙂

Want to learn more about Google Analytics? I highly recommend taking some time reading Advanced Web Metrics by Brian Clifton.

My blog stats using Fruition

The last Google Panda Update on small sites affected my blog
Fruition stats showing a huge chance of Google Update impact

As you can see above, my blog has a 99.4% chance of being affected by the ‘mini’ Google Update.

Now, let’s have a look at my Google Analytics for the stats.

My Google Analytics stats comparing to Google Panda Update impact
Green is the date where Google update happened. Red was the impact towards my blog

Google Panda Update on small sites was said to happened somewhere close to 21st August 2013 and therefore, I will take 7 days in advance as the starting point for some blog traffic comparison.

Search engine traffic before the Google Update was around 136 hits per day on average.

Right after the update, traffic from search engines were slowly reducing and everything started to fall right after 23rd August 2013. Yup, my search engine traffic reduced closed to 50% of what I am usually getting.

So the biggest question was, “Did Google Panda Update on small sites really took place?”

Honestly, we had no idea (I wish I had though) but it certainly looks ‘happening’ to my blog.

What did I do (wrong) to get ‘hit’ by Google Panda Update?

I did thought about this and to be exact, it took me 72 hours to finish my ‘small research’.

Basically, I did nothing wrong (no black hat SEO if that’s what you are wondering at the back of your head) and of course, if I am not doing anything wrong, why would I be ‘penalized’ right?

I would blame this on my approach. Yes, my blogging approach.

When I started this blog, I was determined to rank fast using white hat SEO. I did my homework on the types of keywords to use on each article and even calculated the keyword density of specific keywords on my blog (to name a few).

By now, you can call me a SEO freak and I wouldn’t mind.

There are also a few more white hat SEO techniques I used to rank well on search engine result pages (which I can’t disclose for obvious reasons).

The results? Ranking 242 keywords to be exact on search engines and about 15 of my articles are on the first page of Google.

Important disclaimer: I am not boosting but I am just sharing my experience (plus stupidity).

Imagine 90 days blogging and ranking 242 keywords on page one of Google (SERP’s). What do you think?

Yup … It does look so obvious that I am using some black hat SEO technique right?!

That’s what I am talking about. I was ranking my keywords too fast on search engines using white hat SEO.


Black Hat SEO has many negative effect on search engine ranking
Black hat SEO … is so not my type

Did I really use black hat SEO to rank my keywords?

I know this sounds funny but that’s the fact. I really didn’t use any (yes the big word ‘ANY’) black hat SEO techniques at all. And, I didn’t manipulate the search results too.

However, the results for me to be able to rank so many articles on first page Google does sounds very illegal I would say!

At times, I would simply blame myself for being over ‘enthusiastic’ when it comes to search engine optimization.

What did I learned from this Google Panda Update on small sites (hummingbird)?

I am a strong believer that it is easy to rank on search engines as long as the plan is right. Now, rushing to rank so many keywords on first page of Google is definitely a crazy thing to do (honestly speaking).

When it comes to SEO and overcoming any Panda Update, it is best to leave it as natural as possible. You can’t really beat Google and every updates done by Google is to ‘compliment’ the previous updates.

Search engine optimization is indeed, very simple as I had previously wrote. All you need to do is to ensure that those backlinks you are getting … are coming from natural sources (no paid links etc).

Another thing I learned from this Google Update (hummingbird) is that big daddy Google is focusing on very minor and petty stuffs like blog’s domain age and the numbers of articles able to rank well on Google.

Does this article makes any sense to you?

Using the comment form below, tell me if this article makes absolutely logic to you. For me, it is a lesson well learned.

It was fun being able to rank pretty good on search engines but again, it come with a huge sacrifice too!

For those are interested to try on Fruition, here’s the link for it. All you need to do is to link up to your Google Analytics and the stats will start rolling in.

Of course, I am off to ‘lick my wounds’ but guys, tell me what you think below 🙂

58 thoughts on “The Truth Behind Google Panda Update On Small Sites (Hummingbird)”

  1. I’m pretty sure I found your blog from one of those 15 keyword articles but don’t remember which. SEO is constantly evolving, I know the point is to eliminate junk but let’s hope these new changes don’t effect the “big” sites.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for dropping by mate! I think it will affect small sites but for bigger sites, they usually have the PageRank and authority to ‘hold on’ to these. Maybe there isn’t any update at all but who knows right? Until big daddy Google comments about it :p

      Have a great Sunday mate!

  2. Hi Reginald

    I just checked Fruition for my sites and my main blog didn’t get affected by the Google Panda Update on small sites. It just says 8.6% No Impact.

    My niche site though got a 97.9% positive impact which was very helpful to search engine traffic for that site!

    I don’t understand why that would be when my niche site is younger than my main blog in terms of domain age.

    I would say though that the niche site has had positive impact on each of the last four updates according to Fruition.

    I’m just wondering whether that’s because I’ve kept the keywords very specific on that blog because it is a niche blog.

    CommentLuv didn’t work for me on your blog, by the way!

    • Hi Tim,

      I am so jealous of you! Haha. Lucky you. I don’t mind if my secondary sites get hit by it but NOT my main site! Grr~

      Anyway, thanks for the heads up on CommentLuv. I had no idea what is wrong with it either. Deactivated both CL and W3TC and still the same. I wonder what is wrong.

      Very weird but let me see what I can do from this 🙂

      Have a great weekend mate~

    • Hi Liudas,

      I didn’t lose any ranking as I believe this update is not a Page Rank update. However, if you are talking about articles ranking on search engines, yes 40-50% of my articles got hit pretty bad. Oh well, what can I say?

      Hate you Google! 😀

  3. Very detail review.
    I’m really appreciate your 72hours Researching. I think Google is trying to make their gadget more and more better but sometime is make us confuse. I hope i can still do the backlinks when the update happen.
    And you can try Bing to do the SEO. i think i can help a little bit.
    Thanks Reginald.

    Stephan Wu

    • Hi Stephan,

      Thanks for commenting. Not sure how the algo works but it seems like it could affect sites which are ranking too fast. Maybe … I am just saying. Let’s see how it goes around and certainly hope I don’t get affected more than this.

      Bing? I have yet to focus on it but … I do submit my sitemap to them. Guess that is the ONLY thing I do with Bing at the moment 😉

  4. Reginald, yes, it does make sense to me. I love that we don’t have to use the stuffed keywords anymore. I just don’t like how often Google updates and changes things so quickly. One day you are ranking well for a phrase and the next you are not. Very difficult for retail type of websites. I love getting the fruition updates too. They are a nice snapshot of what is happening and tend to be right on from the ones I’ve received.
    It was funny to see one update be 95% in negative and the next update 95% in the positive, odd indeed!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Yes indeed. I mean, from the previous 3 updates I am doing just fine (as I expected) but the forth one, got hit close to 100%? Makes no sense. Maybe, Google want everyone to start ranking only after 6 months or 1 year 🙂

      What i really doesn’t like is Google does these type of ‘soft and quiet’ updates. Grr~ hate that so much.

      Thanks for commenting and have a great Sunday, Lisa!

    • Lisa, I totally agree. It’s funny how Google gets to decide what’s right and what’s wrong and how quickly these decisions change. One day it was like go build links and rank fast and the other day its totally wrong and “illegal”.

      Also Google gets to decide how “soon” a website can rank and when it triggers a red flag – I mean, how much is too much?

      After all you were just enthusiastic, right Reginald? And you got hit! Wow. Mystery!

      • Hi Jane,

        Thanks for commenting and replying to Lisa’s comment 🙂

        I can’t disagree at all on what you said Jane! I am always trying to find more legal ways to build my blog and I know, sometimes my imagination brings me places I could never imagine 😉

        Appreciate your kind visit to my humble blog and thanks for everything.

        Have a great week ahead Jane!

  5. Hi Reginald,

    Thanks for sharing this news, I haven’t so focused lately so didn’t know about this update. As for your SEO behavior before this update I wouldn’t say that it was stupid at all. Being able to rank this many keywords and be one the top page for 15 articles using white hat techniques isn’t stupid at all, but you were a little bit in rush. As per Google your backlinks should be built natural (which you did) and should be built on timely basis and should be boom at once (which you did). If your blog was older then it wouldn’t get hit. However for a new blog to rank this fast this will be seen as black hat in the eyes of master Google+.

    Hopefully we will be able to over come this very quickly and get back your organic traffic.

    • Hi Qasim,

      Thanks for commenting. In fact, I got to agree completely with what you said. Indeed I was building correctly but maybe too fast 🙂 I am sure as time passes by, my blog will be able to ‘hang in there’ and really fingers crossed for that.

      Hopefully I don’t get hit by the next update 😉

  6. Hey Reginald,

    I don’t pay much attention to SEO, but I suppose I should give this tool a try (especially when it is free :D).

    So for, White hat vs Black hat, I remember reading Glen (Viperchill) saying that all techniques are black hat (since we are manipulating to increase our rankings). I don’t quite agree with the thought (Because Google and other search engines does allow the white hat techniques, while they condone the black hat methods), but it does make sense, in a way.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing the tool, Reginald 🙂

    • Hi Jeevan,

      Oh yes, the famous Glenn 🙂 I agree (just like you) on certain parts like … black hat SEO is all about manipulating the search results. Of course, in return, you MIGHT get hit pretty bad. Most of my secondary sites weren’t affected by this small Panda update but maybe just luck I would say.

      Nonetheless, thank you for dropping by and have a great day ahead mate!

  7. Hey Reginald,

    I found out about this cool site from Tim Bonner who shared this on his blog not long ago. The update before this most recent one I had a very positive report where a lot of people were hit hard. I was so surprised to hear about that but I’ve been trying to keep my blog clear of broken links and things that could affect me.

    Now I had heard another update was coming at the end of August so I was prepared but I guess it came a little sooner. I did check my most recent report as well and I was not affected at all. I love hearing that because in the past I have been slapped very very hard and no one likes that.

    Sorry to hear that you were as well, at least in the eyes of Google. All I know is I love your content and the way your share information so if Google doesn’t like your keywords then too bad for Google. That’s another fabulous thing about referral traffic right!

    So keep up the excellent work and you’ll be back on top in Google’s eyes soon I’m sure of it.


    • Hi Adrienne,

      Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to reply 😉

      Well, this is a great experience for me and something to keep me thinking for a long time. I was thinking of having ‘zero strikes’ on this site but seems like the record is out :p

      Nonetheless, I will be changing my strategy in those very tiny bits and let’s see how it goes around. This is just a small Google Update and probably there won’t be any PageRank updates at all. Who knows right?

      Have a great day ahead and take care, Adrienne!

  8. Excellent info Reginald. Thanks especially for mentioning Fruition. Never thought there will be a free tool like this. I don’t know where you get info about all those products.
    Anyway thanks for sharing with us and helping us indirectly 🙂
    Have a good day Mate Bye 🙂

  9. what did you just say? google panda update on small sites?
    Well i checked my blog on fruition and i got 67.3% positive impact, so this means i didn’t get affected right?

    Whatever! all I’m waiting for is the real google pagerank update and not mini update 😀

    Aww, I’m sorry to hear that you got hit, too bad i forgot my gun. I’m sure this didn’t affect your pagerank but are you trying to say that your contents went lower on SE ranking?

    Btw, i had just one green bar when i checked but yours in the image above has 3 green bars and 1 yellow bar. Did i omit something on my blogging journey?

    • Hi Gilbert,

      Haha! Good for you mate.

      Yup, some of my ‘good ranking keywords’ got ‘removed’ from Google first page. So, that’s why there’s a traffic drop from SE.

      As for your bar thingy, I think that was the time where you placed the Analytics codes at the wrong place or something like that, remember? This is because Fruition uses Analytics data to some sort ‘figure out’ the stats and marks. I am just saying … maybe I am wrong 😉

      Nonetheless, thanks for dropping by mate 😀

      • How I missed your blog?

        Anyway, now i got it in the right time and it is really an useful post.

        I checked Fruition and it is asking my Google Analytics page to access, is it safe?

        I was shocked with your stats and keywords story.

        Usually i won’t take much efforts for SEO for my blog post. I used to select low competition long tail keywords to write post and do some basic SEO to hold a good place in Google search results.

        I leaned some useful stuffs here, thanks for sharing it 🙂

        • Hi Nirmala,

          No worries. Glad you ‘made it’ here 🙂

          Yes it is safe. in fact, that’s how Fruition check on your stats. Basically, you are able to analysis two of your Google Analytics enabled websites with the free account.

          Hope you enjoyed it and take care.

          See you around ya!

  10. Hi Reginald !
    I don’t understand google’s logic of random Panda and Pengium updates . Although they are doing a good job of lowering the ranks of poorly written articles , they should make the algorithm stable rather than running one module on a random date as the algorithm is bringing down the ranks of good websites too . What do you say about this mate?

    • Hi Pramod,

      Well I would say Google algo doesn’t always work for everyone. Like in this case, I was hit in some way. I could be wrong but this time around, their algo is focus on hitting on sites which are new (mine is 90+ days now) and are ranking well. Maybe they didn’t count in probability of low competition keywords etc. Just saying.

      Nonetheless, what done is done. Let’s hope the next update will be better 🙂 Hate it or love it, Google is still the big daddy 😉

  11. Hi Reginald,

    90 days with 242 exact keywords on first page? That was great achievement my friend. What I’ve learned about SEO so far is that this subject always evolving. So the best thing we can do is to always adapt on its change. If we think we are victim then we should make adaptation in no time if organic visitors matters a lot to our blog.

    Thanks for sharing your great experience 🙂

    • Hi Okto,

      Thanks for dropping by mate. Yes you are absolutely right where SEO is always changing. Had no idea how Google or search engines will react after every updates. However, I like the part you said about the adaptation.

      This is very true and thanks for sharing this mate!

  12. Those Google Algo’s are no joke. I understand why they do what they do but it is unfortunate for the smaller sites on a rise. They are the ones that seem to get hit the hardest. The newer sites are still to new and the larger site have tons of followers and a strong social media presence to keep the afloat.

    Very impressed by what you were able to do in 90 days! White hats off to you (pun intended 🙂 ) Thanks for the info very informative.

    • Hi Steven,

      Thanks for commenting mate. Just like you, I totally understand where they are coming from. However, maybe the algo is a little too harsh? 🙂

      Nah, I was just lucky. I started with a very specific but super competitive niche which I slowly branch out from time to time. It got boring talking about just one thing … if you get what I mean 😉

      Appreciate your kind words mate and see you around.

  13. Luckily for me, I experienced some positive changes for one of my site and no change for others. Fortunately I didn’t see any negative effect on any of my property.

    Nowadays I won’t worry much about Google rankings as you hit the #1 spot easily but when you check the next day, the rankings are not the same. So I always try to stay on white hat SEO and let Google do whatever it wants.

    • Hi Arbaz,

      Glad to hear that mate! I usually just work out a simple plan which I feel best fit for my blog. Something simple and something white hat 😀

      Thanks for dropping by mate!

  14. While most of my websites actually benefited from Google Panda (likely due to the large amount of spam that was deindexed), I did have one site that was hit. The site was a micro-niche site with an exact match domain – it’s getting drastically less visits from the keyword I was targeting.

    This shows two things – Google likes authority sites these days, and exact match domains don’t have as much value as they do anymore.

    • Hi James,

      Well said. In fact, you are absolutely right on that. Nowadays, Exact Match Domain (EMD) isn’t that worth the bucks compared to last time. Well, it still has a little effect but you could do well without it as well 🙂

      I have one micro niche site which I was testing for SEO and that was superb hard to target for keywords like what you said. Seems like Google figured it out 😀

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving your input mate.

      Take care and see you around 🙂

    • Hi Arbaz,

      Nothing specific in general. Find some topic I want to write about, choose some keywords and get the facts right. My style of writing are usually things that happened to me and are my self experience.

      Hope this helps.

  15. Fruition is really a good tool. I’ve been using it. As far as the mini update is concerned, i too got hit by this update.but now i am my search traffic is increasing.

    • Hi Siraj,

      Thanks for dropping by mate. Ouch you got hit too? I am too recovering and hopefully, my site will be ready for the next Google Update though I didn’t do much change yet. Haha!

      Have a great day mate.

  16. Hi Reginald,

    Very interesting first of all I had never heard of Fruition. And to tell you the truth I really did not check my site to see if it had been affected after the Google update.

    I was impressed by your stats. I couldn’t believe that your site had been impacted by the Google update; especially, since you never paid for any of your backlinks.

    Getting rankings in Google for over 242 keywords is pretty amazing. I’m sure that you see a great deal of your traffic coming from the search engines.

    The great thing is that it doesn’t seem that your site got affected too bad. Thanks for sharing your stats with us. I hope you have a great weekend.

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for dropping by. Sometime, it is very hard to understand how Google works but maybe I been pushing myself too hard 😀

      Just hope for the best and who knows, the next update COULD be better!

      Have a great weekend to you too!

  17. Hi Reginald,
    Thanks a lot for writing this post.
    I had no idea about the Google Panda update happening on August 21 and since my site is just 2 months old, this was my first taste of the Panda update.
    Also, thanks for giving the link for Fruition. I had no idea about this tool. I just checked Fruition for my site and found out a 99.9% positive impact. To be frank, I was surprised to see this because I don’t post huge amount of articles but 1 in a day or two and there is not much search in my niche.
    Anyways, I am happy the update had a positive impact and thank you very much for informing us.

    • Hi Mayank,

      You are most welcome! Glad it worked out for you and that is definitely good news. Just keep it up and don’t stop blogging 🙂

      For SEO, don’t over focus on it. Just some simple SEO would be just fine.

      Have a great week ahead!

  18. Hi ,

    WOW! How did you rank within 90 days? That is awesome! 🙂

    I don’t believe in doing anything Black Hat because inevitably it’ll come back and bite you in the butt. Glad you didn’t either!

    Do you know about the the Google Analytics dashboards? There are 4 of them. One is Social Media, one is SEO, one is for your blog and the last one if for Site Speed. Tells you everything you would ever want to know.

    Thanks for the great blog. 🙂
    Geri Richmond

    Awesome post.

    • Hi Geri,

      Thanks for your kind words and welcome to my humble blog 🙂

      Oh yes, I uses Google Analytics to check on ‘most’ stats but not much on social media. I usually uses other 3rd party tools do that for me. Might dig that deeper and thanks for that!

      Have a great week ahead mate.

  19. Hi Reginald, Excellent post bro !
    The Fruition Google Penalty Checker Tool makes it extremely easy to see which Google updates affect your site. The tool uses a complex formula to generate an easy-to-read chart that demonstrates how Google changes affect your site search traffic.

    • Hi Jitendra,

      Thanks for dropping by. Yes it is a great tool if you want to have a simple dashboard to show all the ‘effects’ towards your site. Glad you liked it mate!

      Talk to you soon.

  20. Hi Reginald,

    A very informative post about your successful blogging journey. Well, Google updates are rolling that declares a content irrelevant, worst is when the same content was considered relevant just the previous day of the update.

    I believe that this strategy of google is actually working negative for them as the people are now losing faith on their algorithmic updates. Losing faith in the sense that many people are trying to find other alternatives to attract traffic so that if their site gets hit by any future updates from Google then at least their business isn’t completely thrown out of business.

    Thanks for sharing an informative post.

    • Hi Ashutosh,

      Thank you for commenting mate. Glad you find this post useful.

      Google been updating like there’s no tomorrow and at times, it is very hard to determine what they actually want to do. The easiest example is the latest Google Update. Haha!

      Nonetheless, it is always fun to try figure out what Google is trying to do right? Some food for thought 😉

      Have a great day ahead mate.

  21. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing the information about the Fruition Tool which is really useful for checking out the Google Updates and also whether my blogs are being affected or not.

    As you said, these happens for small sites, it is basically sites with low quality contents which are ranking by Black Hat SEO. Ranking for keywords are just like a game where we need to compete with many competitors all over the web. Only Keyword stuffing would create a problem during any Google updates, as Google will fin out that we wrote article just for ranking and not for sharing any information.

    So write quality contents, which will always be under the liking of Google to rank it for search query.

    • Hi Shathyan,

      Thanks for dropping by and glad you find this useful mate! Basically, the algo is very much changing nowadays. All you need to do is to ensure that you are blogging and writing for humans and not for search engines.

      If you are able to do that, you will be absolutely fine with the Google updates.

      See you around mate!

  22. Hello Reginald,

    It is nice to see you to achieve these heights in a very less time by White hat SEO. I am pretty sure, you are putting your best efforts for it. It is a matter to be worried about little bit, as you have recently got hit by the new updates. But, you will recover from this very soon, I know.

    And I would also like to thank you for sharing the info regrading Fruition tool, as I was unaware about this tool yet. Fruition helped me in checking the effect on my blog, but for my pleasure it was not affected a lot by this update. Finally, I would say: Happy Blogging, Keep Rocking 🙂

    • Hi Ganesh,

      Oh wow thanks for the kind words. Glad you find the tool useful 😀

      Google finally announced that the update is called Google Hummingbird. Seems like the update wasn’t small at all. It was rather huge since many algo was changed during that update. Guess that was why I was hit so badly the first few days.

      Checking back the stats today, I am ranking lesser keywords on search engines but each keywords which I am able to rank for are ranking even better. Some food for thought huh!

  23. Hi Reginald,
    Same story here. I was worried why my traffic is down but i know now what is the reason. My 7-8 posts were on the first page of google and today they are appearing on 9th and 10th position in search engines. Do you have any idea how to overcome from this update.

    • Hi Rohan,

      There is no chance to avoid that and Google just launched Penguin 2.1. It already affected many people including me. It seems like they are changing the algorithm and keep fingers crossed. Let’s see how it goes around about a week time. Usually, these algorithm would take a little time to ‘sit in’.

      So, hang in there.

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