Shoot the Panda

I am not, of course, referring to that cuddly creature clinging hopelessly to survival in the bamboo clad reaches of remote mountain ranges … nope, I refer to the “Panda Algorithm” launched onto the Google English language sites on 11th April in a move, they claim, to improve search results for the user.

Trouble is, it is somewhat indiscriminate …. as reported in many papers and on many websites, the results are a little random. Some sites have seen huge drops in traffic, some have reported boosts – but there is no clear relationship between the “quality” of sites in each camp … more importantly there is no clear relationship between the winners and losers in this change and the sites users are likely to have wanted to find!

One reason for this is that the algorithm gives weight to those sites users spend a long time viewing … forgive me, but some really valuable sites exist to be as short a visit as possible, choosing just one group as an example, at random, why don’t we say search engines! Users don’t want to spend a long time reading search engine content, they want to put in a question, get told the answer and then go off again … but they have to find the search engine first …

This is where it gets personal folks 😉 SeatChoice is just such a search engine … it does not exist as a destination in its own right it is there to answer two questions “Who actually has tickets to event X” and “How much am I likely to be charged for tickets to event X by various suppliers” … a valuable service (if I do say so myself) but one that benefits the user by being brief … enter your search term, find the show, click to the supplier … apparently Google would now say I was a more valuable site if I made you read 20 pages before giving you the answer …. well, Mr Google, that doesn’t make sense for the users and it doesn’t make sense for the information suppliers, some of whom (not us I hasten to add) may simply cease to exist … making the web a worse place!

I agree the need to get rid of link farms and rubbish affiliate site but I don’t think (from personal observation) that your algorithms are yet sophisticated enough to tell the difference between a link farm (for SEO purposes) and a useful list of links (to help users) …

You have also made changes that should render SEO activities less fruitful … forgive me but good SEO is (amongst other things) a matter of making sure you get good mentions in lots of places … kind of the same as being a good site that lots of people link to … but wait, apparently you can tell the difference algorithmically! Really?

Interestingly I just entered the term “search engines” into Google and came out in 5th place … and was not on the first page … made me laugh on an otherwise depressing day … depressing because, I’m not sure you have made the world a better place … for me as an User or for me as a Legitimate Business providing information on-line  … which I have been doing for Theatre Listings since Feb 1995 (three and a half years before Google)