You have probably heard about the impact of the Google Panda update hitting UK shores (well Google.co.uk) last week. If you missed it, we covered the US launch back in March.

The update was designed to reduce the rankings of lower quality sites with a lack of original content and an abundance of ads. Article sites like Ezinearticles and FindArticles.com were the main category of sites affected, but other sites were affected also. A useful analysis of different UK sites by Searchmetrics reported in the Guardian showed how different sites were impacted.

Here are some examples:

Changes in search traffic post-Google Panda

You can see that review sites like Ciao.co.uk and Review Centre were also affected as were some tech review sites like TechRadar.com. This suggests the update may have wider implications for your digital marketing than search engine optimisation alone. If these sites are generating direct or affiliate traffic then visits from these sources may be reduced also.

How to review the impact of Google updates on your site

The recent update certainly begs the question of how you review the impact of Google updates on your sites. This is now easier than it used to be since there are now a wide variety of tools available. I’ll give a quick run-down of the main ones as I see it since there may be some you’re unaware of:

1. Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries Tools. This will show you changes from day-to-day for the main keyphrases you target.

2. Rank checkers. Rank checkers for which you supply a set of target keyphrases such as AdvancedWebRanking provide a similar toolset. Google built its Search Queries tool in response to these.

3. Natural search visibility tools. Similar to rank checkers, but showing performance across a wide-range of keyphrases so better for showing the big picture to marketers. Searchmetrics is one example of these. Another is Sistrix which has been used by its provider to show changes in the US Search rankings:

Google Farmer Update Change in Rankings

4. Panel data and sampled search queries. Hitwise has data on visits referred to different sites within a category. Its cost means it only tends to be used by large companies.

5. Analytics systems. Of course these show what really matter, i.e. visits to your site and conversion to commercial goals. Thinking of Google Analytics, there are several options in here to help you identify changes to performance:
A. Non-paid search Advanced Segment
B. A custom-advanced segment setup to show non-brand search traffic which is most likely to be affected by an algorithm update.
C. Google Analytics Intelligence which can be setup to alert you when there is a week-on-week change in natural search performance of natural search overall or a phrase containing the keywords you are targeting.

These are the main methods we use, but do let us know of other tools or techniques that are used by others.

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.