Panda 4.0 Update: Favorites and Outsiders – What Are the Factors of Google’s Betting System?


Yesterday, we gave you some practical advice on how to avoid the Google Panda Penalty. Today we would like to get a view of how some websites applied (or did not applied) the SEO tactics mentioned in the previous post.

The Google Panda 4.0 Update that was rolled out a few weeks ago has now shown some early results, which reveal both a negative and positive effect on the content shared on the web (depending on the point of view, a user’s or website owner’s).  Users are receiving more relative results for their queries. Given the first reports and complaints I would say that positive effects are greater than negative. Let’s have a quick view of the sites being penalized and rewarded by Google’s Panda 4.0.  The list is not comprehensive, but we can see a definite trend of search visibility losses/gains for some giant websites.

Among outsiders we can find websites which post and promote rehashed or duplicate information (Celebrity and Showbiz news portals etc.), create content that links to external sources (Discount Coupon & Codes websites etc.), or show skinny content from third parties (Weather and Price comparison sites).

We at Web CEO decided to take a closer look at those sites that were most affected:

Outsiders: – 50% – 75% – 50%

 Favorites: 500 % 500 % – 500%

Interesting fact is that very similar sites ( and appeared both in the lists of favorites and outsiders. But what makes them different? Is it really all about content quality?

I have made a quick competitive analysis of the backlink profiles of these two websites with the help of our Backlink Quality Checker. A website’s backlink profile is one of the main factors measured by Google, even if a Google update affects content only. Backlinks together with anchor texts linking to relative and useful content on other sites are considered to be part of the algorithm. This truth is confirmed by SEO experts like Jayson DeMers, Founder & CEO at AudienceBloom who has stated that one must: “Implement the three pillars of SEO: Content, links and social media, via a solid content strategy”.

backlinks link profile zimbio

In the Web CEO Online Competitor Link Profile report, we see few obvious reasons why the above two websites are on opposite sides of the Panda 4.0 fallout. Both of the sites have a high PR of 6. But a closer look reveals the factors that clearly caused to fall in the rankings and go up:

  1. Zimbio had a greater number of backlinks.
  2. Zimbio had more links with .GOV and .EDU link status.
  3. Zimbio had more dofollow links as opposed to nofollow links.
  4. Zimbio had a lower percentage of sitewide links which are considered more and more by Google to be more spammy.

Among absolute favorites there are websites which serve as original sources of interesting and helpful information. Their content is user-focused and that’s why they earn more points in the high quality content promotion battle.

The point is that you might source information from other related websites, but keep away from aping.  One of the winner sites with a well executed content strategy is Though there is an excessive number of viral articles like “15 things you should avoid on the first date”, the content is diverse and fits almost everyone’s content needs. Are you raving for useful articles, would you rather read politics or business news, or do you just want to relax and look through interactive content? Buzzfeed gives people a variety of interesting content, fact and fiction, with strong visual assets here and there (video selections, quizzes, gif feed etc.).

Let’s take another one of the winner sites into consideration. has earned more Panda points (500 % improvement in rankings) than other websites. The SEO factors that might have taken them to the top of the favorites list are:

  • Clear and clean navigation
  • Well-implemented 301 redirects.
  • User-friendly interface with a search box to provide quick access to desired content.
  • Different types of content including original visual assets:  slideshare shows, image carousels, interactive content distribution like quizzes etc.
  • Well-performed internal links optimization with diverse link text
  • Strong presence on social media with a high social reach.

If you want to feel secure with the Google Panda 4.0 and become a favorite of users and of Google, be sure to implement the tried and true SEO tactics mentioned above.


Be Informed About What Happens Behind Competitor Lines

It’s hard to have a successful online business without sometimes spying a little on your competitors and their adoption of best-practice marketing tactics. We prefer to call this a competitive analysis. Now you can learn your competitors’ best practices even more easily with the help of our newly added Competitor Metrics reports.

First, choose the 3 or 4 sites that you really compete with. These will be the sites you will watch regularly.

The main aim of a competitive analysis is to predict where your competitors may outrank you and fine-tune your marketing strategy to avoid this. The WebCEO Online Competitor Metrics reports provide you with a lof of key information.

Go to the ‘Competitor Rankings’ report, add up to 20 websites you want to monitor the search engines results positions for. With this report you will always be informed about the pages of your site that need to be fine-tuned to outrank your competitors.

Use WebCEO to track your competitors rankings

Then use the ‘Competitor Link Profile’ report to research how well your website is doing compared to your competitors (you can investigate the link profiles of several competing websites at once). Here you will find PageRank data, the number of total backlinks, the diversity of linking domains, the number of .GOV and .EDU domains links and nofollow links that pass no link juice to the linked pages.

Research your competitors backlink profiles with WebCEO

Every marketer’s dream is to know how many customers the competitors have. No one can tell you, however the WebCEO Online ‘Competitor Traffic Overview’ report can help you to analyze your competitors’ traffic and estimate how many prospects they may get over a given time period.

Estimate how many prospects your competitors get

Do not forget that researching your competitors’ backlink profiles is a great way to earn those same backlinks for your website. The WebCEO Competitor Backlink Spy tool helps you to find who links to your competitors but do not yet link to your site. A simple email or tweet can get you listed at these sites as well.

WebCEO Online provides you with an easy way to analyze your competitors’ social activity. Use the Web Buzz Monitoring tool to monitor important keywords as well as your and competitors’ brand names. The ‘Social tracker’ report allows you to analyze your competitors’ activities on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and to, thereby, set realistic social benchmarks for your brand.

Build Your Social Media Campaign with the help of Your Competitors

One of the best ways to help develop a social media strategy for your brand is to research what your competitors are doing. Performing a social media competitive analysis is an essential part of your social media success. You should analyze your competitors’ activities to set realistic benchmarks for your brand.


Check what social networks your competitors use. Thy may differ a lot depending on the industry you are in. While Pinterest may be great for a florist or an interior design company, it might be less useful if you are in engineering. Now when you have a list of the social media profiles of your competitors you can start your competitive analysis.

1. Check how often your competitors post.

Yes, this is a very manual process. However it’s really important to know how many times they posted unique content during the last month. This will help you to craft your own schedule.

2. Learn what type of content is popular with your targeted audience.

By looking at what type of content your competitors tend to post you can measure how successful the various mediums are in terms of fan involvement and engagement. Does the audience like photos and videos? Is it a good idea to repost other brands’ content? Should you use hashtags? Answer these questions to better understand what types of content will be helpful for your marketing.

3. Investigate your competitors’ social engagement.

Analyze the number of followers your competitors have. This will show how popular they are and how big their online community is.  While you may not be able to see the changes in social media numbers, you can see trends very clearly.

4. Monitor your competitors’ online reputation.

You should know what is said about your competitors across the web. This helps you to react immediately and fine-tune your social media marketing. For example, if you detect a weakness that happens to be a strength for you, you may consider writing and publishing more content that explains how good you are with that aspect of your business.

A great way to monitor your competition is to use the Web CEO Social Buzz tool. Simply type your competitors’ brand names into the tool and get everyday updates showing freshly indexed content mentioning them.

monitor your social activity with webceo

Look through the found posts and react if appropriate. Besides you can favorite posts you commented on so you can return to them later and see what new comments were added.

When you collect all the data and compare it to your own metrics, you will be able to adjust your own social media campaigns to outperform your competitors. By looking at how your target consumers communicate with your competitors, you will get insights on how to effectively interact with them through social networks.

Remember that your competitors are changing and improving all the time.  They will be adjusting their approach and updating their campaigns in order to try to improve results. That is why your competitive analysis should be an ongoing process. It’s not something that you can do once and then forget about.

How to Build Backlinks with the Help of Your Competitors

As you know, understanding your competitive position in search results is extremely important. Today we explain how your competitors may help you build links.


Researching your competitors’ backlink profiles is a great way to earn those same backlinks for your website. This is a good idea for two reasons: you will get more backlinks and you will help Google to understand your website’s theme, that you are, in fact, a competitor of what might be a well-ranked site.

Before you start your backlink campaign, research how your competitors are doing. Go to the WebCEO Backlink Quality Checker and add up to 4 competitors to check their metrics.


Your home page PageRank will give you an idea of how well your website is doing compared to your competitors. It’s not always completely accurate, but if your competition is two or three PageRank numbers ahead of you, it might be time to do some optimization work.

The number of total backlinks will estimate how much work is needed to outrank your competition. Remember that, from the Google point of view, it is better to have more linking domains. Having a lot of linking domains diversity and lots of links from .GOV and .EDU domains shows that your website is authoritative. Nofollow links may bring you traffic, but they do not pass link juice to your pages.

Now, when you can estimate how many backlinks of high quality you need, you can go and get them. The WebCEO Competitor Backlink Spy will help you to investigate who links to your competitors.


Carefully investigate the pages that link to your competitors’ websites but do not have links to your site. It’s quite possible that you can get links there too. Start from the pages that have high Google PR and link to two or more competitors. They are the most helpful because they’re more likely to want to link to your page as well.

Even if you are not going to approach the same sites that your competitors clearly have, this process will reveal the types of sites you may want to approach.

Why You Should Start Spying on Your Competition Right Now

It is no secret that the online business world changes quickly. If you are growing a successful web business, you should understand why customers choose you; why you are better than your competition.

The idea that you are missing something in your marketing mix is a driving force for competitive analysis. Take the time to analyze your competition in order to best show your consumers that they are right in choosing you over that competition. Today prospects choose you according to an array of reasons: your product, pricing, support, your website’s design, the message you deliver. It rarely has to do with pricing alone.

Competitive analyses give you information you can use to differentiate yourself from others in the marketplace. Research your competitors’ marketing and use this information to fine-tune your marketing plan and get more profit.

spy on competition cartoon

Where to start from

To start a competitive analysis you will need to know who your competitors are. This may seem too self-evident; however you should carefully choose your REAL competitors. Think about your target audience. What do they need? What keywords will they use? Whom would you choose if you had the same needs? Answer these questions and use them as the starting point for analyzing your competitors and developing your competitive marketing strategy.

Make a list with all the competitor sites you can find. Then choose the 5 you really compete with. First of all, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (or other social networks that are important in your industry), subscribe to their corporate blog via RSS. Now you will be informed about all their news and will be ready to take actions.

The second step of your competitive analysis is to understand why your website may be outranked by the competitors. This step will help you to improve your online marketing strategy. We will show how to do this in our next blog post. Now go and find out about your real competitors!