Vote Q&A Update: How Google Killed Infopackets

Dennis Faas's picture

It's been a week since we had our vote and my email inbox is buzzing with questions and suggestions from our readers. The question below is the most frequently asked question from last week's vote, and it deserves an entire article on its own. Please read it carefully.

Note: the article below is lengthy (about 1500 words). Most people reading this article will find it highly informative and interesting as it applies to technology, search engines, advertising, profits, and even addresses how and why Google ranks its search results. It also explains why we are asking for contributions to our website in regard to our recent vote.

With that said, let's begin.

" Dear Dennis,

Regarding the vote on funding Infopackets: what was Google's change in policy that resulted in such a large drop in traffic to your website [see pic below]? Also, how does the drop in traffic affect your revenue? "

My response:

The answer to this question is complex.

When friends and family ask me the same question, I usually take a deep breath before answering. That's because the answer involves more-than-average understanding of how search engines work. It's the same reason why I chose not to go into detail when explaining our current financial circumstance.

Anyhow, I'm going to do my best to explain things as simple as possible.

Here is the short answer:

The Google policy change which resulted in a massive drop in traffic to our website (which directly affects our revenue) is called the Google Panda Update.

In short, the Google Panda Update rolled out last year starting in February 2011, and was designed to remove low-quality web sites from appearing in Google's search engine results.

However, many legitimate websites (including our website) were decimated in the wake of the Panda Update. Infopackets lost 50% of its traffic overnight in April 2011. The traffic to our site did not return until November, 2011, though it's nowhere near what it used to be.

Even so, the Panda Update and its effects are still resonating strongly into this year. We've lost approximately 65% of our revenue (as of last year) and without the proper funding, we can't survive. That's why we're asking for contributions from our readers.

... And here is the long answer:

How Does the Google Panda Update Work? What are 'Search Results'?

Search results are displayed whenever a user visits Google and enters something to search. This is called 'querying' a search engine. For example, imagine searching Google for an "oatmeal cookies recipe". What gets displayed on the following page is called a search result.

The First, Second, and Third Search Results Are Extremely Lucrative

Most users visiting a search engine (like Google) will click on the first, second, or third link of a search result. Thus, there is fierce competition among web site owners to be ranked in these search result positions.

Competition is so fierce, in fact, that just to obtain an ad position close to the #1 spot in Google's search results can cost up to $55 dollars a click. That's $55 PER CLICK!

Refer to the picture to the right (click it). --->

Now, let's think about this for a second.

A typical ad conversion rate on a high-performing ad is about 2 to 3 per cent. (Note: A conversion rate is how many people actually sign up / purchase a product when they see and click on an ad).

Thus, if you had 1,000 people clicking on your $55 per-click ad, it would cost you $55,000 dollars and you'd of sold between 20 and 30 products. Google could quite easily deliver the 1,000 visitors to your site in a matter of hours. (Source:

Advertising Online is Ridiculously Expensive

Very few people can afford to advertise online, which is why we see so many junk websites appearing in the number one, two or three positions in Google's search results.

Many low-quality, junk web sites were specially crafted by devious web site owners in order to rank high in search results. In doing so, these high-ranking bogus sites 'steal' traffic from legitimate sites -- and they often do so by plagiarizing content.

Scraper Sites, Content Farms and Ad Revenue

Web sites that plagiarize content are called "scraper sites."

Scraper sites, on a large scale, are a type of "content farm." Content farms usually produce thousands upon thousands of junk pages in hopes that Google will index their pages (which it does). Google then displays the content farm and scraper site links inside search results -- sometimes in the top 3 listings -- to users that query Google for a search term.

Most people clicking on these links have no idea they're about to click on a content farm or scraper site.

The goal of a content farm or scraper site is simple: get the user to the page (via search engine), wham the user with ads, and hope the user clicks on an ad. In turn, this generates money for the web site owner.

Content farms and scraper sites show up in search engines more often than not, and it's been a major problem for Google, as well as other search engines.

Herein lies the core issue.

Google Panda Update Backfires, Kills Legitimate Sites in the Process

In the case of the Google Panda Update, the aim was to target these low-quality websites that often plagiarize (I.E.: sites that directly copy and paste content from other websites and claim it as their own).

But it didn't happen like that. Our website was inadvertently targeted, and for almost an entire year, our traffic was cut in half. As a result, we lost an estimated 65% of our revenue.


"According to Google, [the Panda Update] algorithm improves overall search quality, as it mainly went after content farms and aggregator / spam sites. These sites were bottom of the barrel types, short articles no better than ads, written with poor quality language skills and [content] scraped from other sites. However ... some very high-quality sites were [equated to] ... content farms [according to the Panda Update algorithm]." (Source:

In the case of Infopackets and other *legitimate* websites that were affected negatively by the Panda Update (for what appears to be no apparent reason), it has and continues to financially cripple us.

As one researcher noted:

"As I analyzed the impact of the Panda update on various sites, I noticed (although not every page): all page types were hit; pages with great content were hit; pages with thin content were hit; pages with mediocre content were hit. Google did not take a scalpel and slice up poor content. They took a bazooka to the entire site." (Source:

Here's another perfect illustration of the Panda Update and how it backfired:

"Thousands of Mom-n-Pop websites, a sampling of which have been singled out for praise by universities, mainstream media, NGO's and government agencies, have been given the heave-ho by Google with U.S. search traffic falling by 50% or more. The author of this article, whose homely Foner Books website was featured in a 2008 article about laptop repair in the New York Times, has seen U.S. Google traffic website fall by half. Many of the sites now appearing above the author's site in Google search results are copyright infringements on the author's work monetized with Google Adsense, and in many cases, those infringements have been syndicated to hundreds or thousands of other [made for Adsense] sites. " (Source:

And, on the subject of legitimate websites negatively affected by the Panda Update (for what seems to be no apparent reason):

"[Regarding the popular tech news site, 'Cult of Mac']: We've become a civilian casualty in the war against content farms... Why us? We have no idea. The changes Google has made to its system are secret. What makes it worse is that Google's tinkering seems to have actually improved [lower quality websites], while killing ours... We're a blog, so we aggregate news stories like everyone else. But our posts are 100% original and we do a ton of original reporting..." (Source:

Post-Panda Update: Revenue Still -WAY- Down (up to 80)%

It's worth noting that some websites have recovered their traffic from the Panda Update. It appears Infopackets has recovered *some* of its traffic, which is good news.

However, our revenue has and continues to be decimated. Our ad partners, for example, are paying us considerably less (up to 80% less in some cases) than they did last year and the year prior. This is true, even though we're providing roughly the same clicks as we did in the same time frame the year prior.

I theorize this is because our ad partners are hurting just as bad as we are (because every site they were associated with likely was hit with the Panda Update), and thus, they have 'adjusted' our revenue shares considerably lower just ensure their survival (but killing us in the process).

Add all of this on top of the fact that we've just *barely* been able to get by for the last 5 years when the economic meltdown began, and it's the Google Panda Update and its after-effects on the affiliate / ad market that is the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. We can't take any more loss, which is why we're asking our readers to support us. If we can't get the support we need, we'll be forced to shut down the site.

In case you're wondering: Infopackets has never, ever illegally or artificially manipulated our web pages in order to rank high or steal traffic from other sites. We are not a victim of the Panda Update in this respect. We simply create good content and have been for 10 years.

I hope this explains our situation in detail. I also hope that when you read this, you understand our plight, and that you are able to support our website and allow us to continue publishing.

Thank you for your understanding.

Note: At this time, we are not accepting donations or contributions. I will be addressing this in another upcoming article, hopefully due on Friday.

PS: If you haven't already voted on the issue to support our website, you can do so here.


Dennis Faas
CEO | Owner, Chief Editor

Rate this article: 
No votes yet