The Ugly Truth Google Panda Exposed About Your Business

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witch The latest Google Panda (algorithm) updates shook the online world like an earthquake.

I’ve heard horror stories from massive layoffs to long-time Webmasters/Bloggers having to look for 9 to 5 jobs again.

If you think about it, it’s very scary how one algorithm change can negatively impact a site’s revenue in seconds.

When I saw Ken Evoy of SiteSell on the Google Forums requesting an explanation on behalf of his customers, that really emphasized to me how widespread this impact was.

Not saying Site Build It! sites are never affected by algorithm updates. Of course, they’re often impacted like any other site.

However, I’ve been inside the SiteSell community for 10 years and it was clear from browsing their forums that this update had a bigger collective impact on websites that are often unaffected (as a whole) by Google algorithm changes.

Even if you weren’t affected this time, you could get hit with the next update, so I hope you pay attention.

The Truth Hurts

This post is going to sting a little, and I don’t mean to offend anyone.  Please don’t take it personal as I’m only trying to help you get off this emotional algorithm roller coaster.

The reason why Panda crushed so many of you is because your business model was flawed from the start. (Ouch! I told you it would sting.)

Any time your traffic and business model is largely dependent upon one site you have absolutely no control over, you are playing with fire.

AdSense is not a stable income solution, and it’s even more unstable when your AdSense earnings are mostly dependent upon your Google traffic.

It always amazes me when I hear stories of people quitting their jobs solely because of their Google AdSense earnings.  The main reason I continued to work at my 9 to 5 (even when I was earning six figures on my websites) was because I knew my income was relying too heavily on Google traffic.

My friends called me cheap.  Some even said I was lying about my success online.  I heard things like, If you’re really making that much money online then why are you still at your 9 to 5?

The simple answer was I just wasn’t comfortable with such an unstable source of traffic that was controlling my business.  So I waited until I had multiple streams of traffic and residual income.

I realize it’s often difficult to recognize your Google dependence when your traffic is climbing and the AdSense checks are rolling in.  Even though you know deep down nothing is guaranteed, it’s easy to fall into a false sense of security with the traffic Google is sending you.

Too many of you got comfortable and were sitting back relying too heavily on programs like AdSense and income sources that depend largely on how much Google traffic you had.

Here’s another hard truth…

Google never guaranteed you anything and they don’t owe you any traffic.  They are running their own business as they see fit, and by relying on them too heavily, they are running YOUR business too.

Whether you think their practices, algorithms and models are inherently flawed or not, it’s THEIR business — period.  They are never going to get that algorithm 100% right and “quality” websites will always suffer with these updates.

As long as Google remains the number 1 search engine, you should expect to see more of this going forward.  Some months will be good, some will be bad.

So we can sit here and over analyze our rankings (analysis paralysis), manipulate keywords on our pages, create speculation, try to predict the future, publish articles that attempt to expose Google’s “unfair” practices, beg them to give us our rankings back…


We can restructure our business models to be more Panda-proof.

I vote for the latter.  So here are some things you can do…

1) Engage Your List

It’s not enough to just build a list.  A lot of people have e-mail lists, but they don’t know how to keep their subscribers engaged.   And I’m talking about myself here.  [raises hand]

I got so sick and tired of hearing everyone say, “The money’s in the list” because that just wasn’t my story.    I went a long time just building a list and not doing anything with it because I had no real strategy and my open rates were deplorable.

I’ve spent the last year really focusing on how to get more out of my list and it really paid off when I launched my Easy Starter CSS Templates in June.  I have been doing more with exclusivity, targeted mailings, and contests. Fortunately AWeber makes managing my list a breeze.

NOTE: I will be launching a WordPress guide next week that covers a lot of missing lessons with regards to building WordPress sites correctly for SEO and the user experience.  I hope to see the fruits of my labor once again.

Ana Hoffman probably doesn’t even know this, but she’s a huge reason why my open rates and e-mail list engagement have improved.  If you need some tips on how to polish your e-mail marketing strategies, click here.  This is a page you’ll want to bookmark.

She also wrote a really useful guest post on my blog about list building.

2) Seek Residual Paying Programs

This is not always easy for everyone because not all topics have many residual affiliate and reseller programs.

Clickbank has added a lot more products that pay residual income in many different niches.  When searching through their marketplace, look for the blue symbol that represents residual payments.


As many of you know, I’m a domain/hosting reseller, and the residual/passive income that I’ve built up over 9 years is enough for a medium-size family to live comfortably on.

If you target wanna-be Bloggers/Webmasters, this is something you may want to consider.  However, if this is not your niche, I would not recommend it because it is a difficult space to compete in if you don’t have the right kind of audience.

3) Create Your Own Product

Not only can you generate a solid income through sales of your own product, but you can add an affiliate program to generate another level of residual earnings.

Thanks to programs like ShareaSale, eJunkie and Clickbank, setting up an affiliate program for your product is not the hassle it once was.

4) Get on YouTube

It is MUCH easier to get ranked in YouTube for competitive keywords because YouTube is not nearly as saturated with videos as Google is with Web pages. I rank well for many keyword phrases on YouTube that I would NEVER rank for on

Embedding YouTube videos into related content may also improve the rankings for those pages.  And some of your videos may also start to rank in Google by themselves.

I know I’m trying to break your dependency from Google. But aside from the Google SEO benefits of creating YouTube videos, you are also creating another traffic stream to your site from YouTube.

5) Work the Social Media Space

Social media is another avenue you can use to build more traffic and loyalty.  However, it’s easy to get obsessed over your number of followers, fans and subscribers.

Those numbers don’t mean much of anything if you aren’t converting those people into customers and using that space to build up the foundation of your business — e-mail list, site traffic, sales for your product, etc.

As popular as social media is, you don’t technically own those pages and accounts.  You may remember when SiteSell had their Facebook Page yanked out from under them for no known reason.

Fortunately they got it back quickly, but it’s a reminder why you should always use social media to continually promote sites that you actually own and control.

Remember to draw people back to your website and encourage them to sign up for your e-mail list so they stay engaged with your own site, not just your Facebook Page and Twitter account.

Speaking of e-mail, AWeber makes it super easy to add an e-mail sign-up form to the left navigation of your Facebook page.  Here’s a tutorial that shows you how to set that up.

Diversify, Diversify, Diversify

My static site took a small hit in the September Panda update.  I could sit and try to over analyze what I did wrong, but I chose to let it keep me focused on strategies that continue to build long-term income and traffic.

Yes, I’m still primarily an affiliate marketer, but I’m continuing to expand my portfolio with my own products and work on engaging my e-mail list more.

Google can take your search engine traffic, but no one can take your engaged e-mail subscribers, products and personal brand away from you.  When the foundation of your business is built on solid models like that, Google algorithm updates won’t cause so much turbulence in your life.

I know I was tough on you in this post, but I have a feeling a lot of you needed to read this.  If your website success is largely driven by Google traffic, you need to rethink your strategy NOW.

If you get nothing else from this, get that you need to break your dependence from the Almighty Google and learn to generate more stable sources of income and traffic.

Whether it’s social media, guest posting, a newsletter, your own product or a combination of all the above, I guarantee it will give you incredible piece of mind going forward.

I hope this post is the motivator you need to shift how you run your business.

Use the negative impacts of Panda and turn them into opportunities to build a solid foundation for your business instead of a shaky one that is dependent upon an unpredictable algorithm.

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  1. says

    Thanks Lisa,

    Your post is very informative and most of it shares your real experience with the Google. Google is considered main source for earning some extra income once before and Panda and Penguin rolled out by them. Like you said we need to diversify our source of income and not stick to one.

  2. says

    I quite liked the Panda update, it helps to get rid of people stealing content or just re-posting the same article 1000 times for backlinks, quality of content has become the king of SEO and people that take pride in their content will natural do well in terms of SEO. Good job Google!

  3. says

    In terms of SEO diversity holds the key its really a better approach to look out for varied options that can gives us real traffic,Social media is also playing a crucial role in marketing its really better to go for links,followers,likes in a genuine way of appreciation

  4. says

    I truly agree with you……we should not be just completely dependent on the almighty Google for our business and kept on looking for other options to build customers. I am really impressed with your knowledge and experience.

  5. says

    Hey another GREAT post from you, Lisa. Love your attitude – such a great change from the macho Internet Marketeers who think we all have low IQ’s! They use dodgy link building methods which might work in the short term but get thrashed by Google algorithm adjustments. Your downright common sense shines through brightly and is essential if you’re in for the long haul. Ok enough of praises and flattery, but I sure appreciate your videos and posts. PS. Mailchimp has really come on despite its name. I changed from Aweber because it’s easier and for “small” lists it’s free.

  6. says

    Thanks Lisa,

    Your post is very informative and most of it shares your real experience with the Google. Google is considered main source for earning some extra income once before and Panda and Penguin rolled out by them. Like you said we need to diversify our source of income and not stick to one.

  7. says

    Thanks Lisa. New to your site and just acquired mine as a hobby mostly though I do want to boost traffic. I have been reluctant to get to deep into google. My content is original and adds are from affiliate programs like Commission Junction and Avantlink.

  8. says

    hi lisa ,

    Great post and yes i agree with you that don’t just rely on google for your traffic and income, But when i am talking about clickbank or any site for affiliating product. Do you think that selling product is easy ? I mean you need lots of things to do before getting anything like select product to affiliate , create a site , invest on theme and promotion and then may be you are able to earn a dollar.

    But if you are writing quality artile without copy pasting from anywhere you will start earning few dollars withing year i guess . If you start doing this then you can quit from job after few years.

  9. says

    The fact is great content is a start but sadly its very naive to think that will do it. people talk about white hat black hat, i find it easier just to think marketing. if you have something worth sharing how are you going to get eyeballs on it is the question.

    However post updates this has become a much bigger challenge

  10. says

    This is what you call an ‘On-Time’ message! I have been told that I have excellent content and that my site was very user-friendly (Thanks to SBI!). However, I came to the realization that it’s not just about a good looking site with great content

  11. says

    I hear you loud and clear. I’m still figuring out how to make my email list better. I will have to check out some of the posts you linked too. Thanks.

  12. says

    Thanks Lisa. New to your site and just acquired mine as a hobby mostly though I do want to boost traffic. I have been reluctant to get to deep into google. My content is original and adds are from affiliate programs like Commission Junction and Avantlink.

  13. gIVEsUCCESS says

    Google search is not for searches really it for getting you to their favorite sites. They should be called a suggestion engine bc thats all they do. The big guys out there in our biz have $$ to pay their way to the top bc it also make Google $$.

    G also like to keep us working for them fro free bc all the changes they make to algo is more for their FREE r&d. They make a few senseless changes and see how we react, what changes we make and they learn from it. They see what we alter or do diff then apply them to their “pet” sites like Youtube. Most of the site there are copyright infringements but they are still there for all to watch.

    People need to be allowed to know there are other options for searching besides the big G. I am on top for all my keywords for bing and yahoo and most others and a page or 2 behind them on G. I gave up trying to make them happy with original content crap only to have someone ans scrap my good content to their site for the #1 spot. G wont even do a thing about it ever bc it would cost them $$ to have someone work on it to set it right.

    Anyone with $ can pay a 3rd world citzn to sit and make backlinks all day long and to G thats ok bc it not automated and if they stay on the site and lok around for a min or 2 then G wont know how to detect it being mot real backlink.

    I am back to pre panda/penquin $ and I dont have to worry about the G anymore. I just made up for it thru other diversified way so my G has been slayed for ever. And if they evrr do go back to REAL search engine then I am set to dominate there too w/o any work on my part.

    I have also made $ teaching others how to build sites and find tool to help them get to the top. I have a vos server that I host my own sites PLUS I rent space to others as managed or self managed webspaces to create other streams of $$.

    SRY for the spelling.grammar errors I was in rush to write this.

  14. says

    Your post was a bit harsh but it has truth… Google Updates have ruined many a businesses… it hurts small businesses to pay so much for SEO only to get that progress shattered with a new algorithm update… SEO Companies are also not helpful in that respect … they do blackhat SEO and amass a lot of links or use shady techniques… Ultimately the consumer is the sheep who gets slaughtered…

  15. says

    The best way to get rid of google algorithms be real to google .Work on content which is real and not copied from some else site….work on real links instead of quantity target quality

    • says

      Shane I think you are right but see around yourself .. what do you see ??? We see sites which are using shady SEO techniques at the top of google… these websites pay to get lots (and by lots i mean thousands of backlinks) and what does google do about them ??? They put them at the top… I don’t mean to say that google is bad but the fact is search business is evolving and blackhatters are finding ways to bypass that leaving the mom and pop stores to fend for themselves!!

    • says

      Yes of course ! copying content is offense , i completely agree with Google panda ..
      being a good blogger we should write original content for our blog. But sometimes We’ll punished by panda without reason so can anyone help me out with it?

    • says

      Google has come up with so many new algorithms recently. I heard that after Penguin update a lot of sites that used blogger as a blogging platform got their pages deleted, so they had to move to wordpress. We should alsways have in mind to check for broken links, update outdated content, and disavow bad links.

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