Earlier, Google announced on their “Inside Search” blog that amongst the 40 search updates being rolled out for February 2012, Google Panda was receiving a tweak to bring it up to version 3.3.

Google Panda was one of those updates that was always going to raise controversy amongst website owners, particularly those relying on adverts for revenue.

Google Panda

Google declared on "low quality" content with their Panda update - sites with heavy on-page ads got burned.

The update heralded a very noticeable change in Google’s search results 12 months ago. Many of us SEOs spotted that “content rich” websites like news websites, social networking sites etc were suddenly crawling up the SERPs, whilst websites whose on-page advertising was considered excessive were gradually being downgraded.

In some ways, the Panda update was likely to be welcomed by many. Web users usually dislike excess advertising on web pages, not only because it can spoil the look and feel of a page, but the individual feed request each ad must request on page-load leads to pages loading more slowly (which is a ranking factor in Google, despite what some may claim…). And the annoyance of losing your page if an ad is accidentally clicked is something we’ve all experienced at some point.

In other ways, many websites whose revenue is dependent on these ads have since seen their rankings, visitors and ultimately revenue fall sharply. Sadly, this will certainly have impacted on the website where I began developing my SEO skills: ReviewCentre.com. It would also impact on new entrepreneurs who may choose to create a new website and offer advertising as their source of revenue. Fortunately, the website I built whilst at ReviewCentre was closed down (by myself) before the Panda started prowling round…

One theory I had was that one effect of the reason would be that websites displaying ads from platforms like Microsoft AdCentre and Yahoo Search Marketing might shift focus to Google ads instead, believing that sites using a Google advertising product wouldn’t be penalised by Google. With just 12 months of data available, commentators will now have a much clearer idea how many abandoned their old ad providers for favour of Google…