Searchmetrics Mover, Shakers and statistics explained

April 18th, 2011 | Analysis 11 comments

There’s been a fair bit of interest in the analysis we posted last week about Google’s global English language roll out of the Panda algorithm update and we wanted to clarify some things about how we arrived at the data and what it means.

This post should help explain why our analysis found that some sites seem to have improved visibility while others have reduced visibility on following the Panda update. It should also hopefully emphasize what we mean by visibility and show that visibility is not the same as the traffic to a web site.

Searchmetrics OPI does not calculate the real traffic coming in to web pages

To cut a long story short, we don’t predict the real traffic coming to a website – which can come from a variety of sources including ads, email and social media marketing etc – not just visibility on Google.

We monitor a selected and representative set of keywords for (and other countries) once a week and analyze the search result pages for these keywords. One of the indices we calculate from this is called the Organic Performance Index (OPI). This is a culmination of figures collated from search volume (ie how often people are searching for a keyword or phrase), how often and on which position (ie what position on a Google results page) a domain/web site appears and the statistical value of traffic distribution.

By “statistical value of traffic distribution” – we simply refer to the fact that a position one result gets the highest share of all clicks on a page, an image or video result on a position 5 gets more clicks than a pure text result and so on. We analyze this and estimate the click volume on a page. Add them all up (plus some more math applied) and you get the performance index – an estimate for how visible a site is on Google in a specific country.

Analyzing Panda’s effects

So by using this data to look at how sites have been affected in terms of search visibility – both before and after Google’s Panda update – we can assess the impact the update has had on domains within a country. As you will have seen from our analysis, in addition to reducing the visibility of some so called ‘content farm’ sites that are felt to offer poor quality and duplicate content, the update has impacted some reputable sites that provide a valuable service to their visitors. This ‘collateral damage’ impact may eventually be reduced as Google fine-tunes its algorithm in coming weeks.

Search Engine visibility is not everything

Fortunately, as we’ve already mentioned, Google isn’t the only traffic source websites can have. There is real ‘type-in’ traffic (when visitors type in a URL) , social media traffic ( ie from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other ), affiliate traffic etc. Due to the fact that we only measure the Search Engine SEO / SEM visibility, you have to understand that our data can only be used as a trend for search engine visibility and an indication of the traffic that might come from Google searches.

So, many of the sites that may now be experiencing reduced visibility as a result of the Panda update, may still continue to generate good traffic to their sites and continue to prosper.

A little more about our data

The basis for our analysis is a local keyword set for every country we analyze. Our values are local that’s why we can give you an overview over the SEO and SEM visibility per country. The keyword set is representative and varied between some hundred thousand and 10 million. The keyword sets are extended every month with new keywords added and irrelevant / outdated keywords deleted.

We try to map the keyword sets we analyze both to short head and long tail phrases.

Examples for some keywords from short to long tail:

Position - bmw m3 for sale

Position - webcam

Position - How to make french toast

Position - Loan Calculator

Position - Money off vouchers

Using our OPI we were also able to observe the dramatic (and publicly reported and confirmed) drop in organic search traffic for JCPenney ( within

OPI - jcpenney

If you’d like to find out more about our data and the analysis we can perform, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Who’s writing this stuff? My name is Marcus Tober and I’m the founder of Searchmetrics. Because we really love to analyze every kind of online data, we can give you more insights than any other company in SEO, SEM and Social Media. It’s not a job, it’s passion. You can find me also on Google+ .
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Comments (9)

Comments (11)

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