On October 13th/14th, Google made some adjustments to their algorithm again that has effected lots of website owners. I have gotten lots of questions and comments about how this has effected my own sites, and what this means for the future of niche websites; so I wanted to make a post dedicated to this question.
The truth is that it is rumored that Google may have made some changes on the 20th as well. The reality is that Google is going to continue making lots of changes to how websites are ranked. I don't have all the answers and don't even pretend to be an expert on any of the Google Panda updates. All I can do is share what I have seen with my sites.
How My Sites Were Impacted
For the week after Oct. 14th compared to the week before the 14th, I have seen about a 16% drop in income from Google Adsense. However, I am seeing signs that this is actually improving over the past couple of days. So, we'll see, but overall my income from this month could actually see only a very small decrease (less than 5%) over last month.
Despite this income drop, I am actually noticing 2 distinct differences between my newer sites and my older sites. My sites built in the past few months did not see any loss in rankings and some of them have moved up in Google quite well. So, my newer sites are actually growing in income and doing quite well.
However, my sites that are a year or older actually took the brunt of the Panda update. This is quite interesting to me because you would think that older sites would have more authority in Google's view. Although I saw quite a few drop in rankings on some of my sites (which I share below), I have seen significant improvement back up for lots of those sites. So, its hard to say, but in a week or 2 my income may be right back to where it was. So, overall I definitely saw some movement on a few of my sites, but overall, it doesn't appear to have drastically effected my business.
Now I wanted to share a few of the rankings before and immediately after Panda. Then I will share where my sites are now (recovered).
Obviously I have a lot more sites than 7, but I share these 7 because these have had the most impact on my earnings. As you can see some of them dropped a little, but have come back quite well (for the most part). So, even though my income is down comparing the week prior to this Panda update and the week after the Panda update; my income is almost back to where it was before due to these recovering sites.
Google Favors Big Brands
The other interesting thing that I will note about the changes in my rankings due to Panda is that the sites that now appear to be ranking better are primarily larger brands. It appears that Google is favoring larger brands more even though they are not targeting the keywords very well. Aaron Wall on SEOBook.com wrote about Google loving Big Brands back in February. So, I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.
So, what does this mean for niche websites? Well, honestly its hard to say. My overall income may not be effected hardly at all when this is all said and done, so I'm certainly not saying that Panda killed niche websites. In fact, all my sites built in the past few months are doing VERY well in the search engines. So, I will continue to build new sites and continue to build links to my old sites that were effected to help them recover a bit more.
Of course, this always does bring up the conversation of what exactly Google is looking for. We know they want quality content that is useful to the end user and I think we should always strive to achieve that. Niche websites will be around for as long as Google is around. However, here are some great guidelines that Google provided not too long about how to create a better quality site.
So, Google will continue to make changes and we will all be required to change right along with it. This is nothing new. Here is a post I wrote a while ago about the very Real Risks associated with building niche websites. Its a risky business (but aren't all businesses?). Perhaps a less risky approach would be to focus on finding one niche that you can build a large authoritative site on. However, this also has inherent risks as LOTS of these types of sites were severely penalized by the recent Google Panda update – read some of the horror stories here.
Again, I'm no expert here. Just sharing my thoughts. Overall, my sites are now performing essentially as usual after the update and my business is still bringing in much more than my old day job used to – so I'm happy!
Have some additional thoughts to share? Please leave a comment below!