May 02, 2014

Google’s Zoo: How Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird Algorithm Changes Affect Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing has been hit hard by Google algorithm updates that for the past few years have been targeting affiliate sites for black hat techniques and ‘thin content.’ Fortunately, there are enough articles about how publishers can recover to circle the globe 10 times over. google-updates-report

In this article, Schaaf-PartnerCentric Senior Affiliate Program Manager Dan Fink examines the effects of the algorithm shifts from the perspective of the advertiser, who sees affiliate traffic dropping off as a result of the changes. What do advertisers need to know? Why is it important to track these search engine changes? When will publisher traffic recover?


Google’s Algorithm Changes: Why We Need to Keep Track
Google’s first animal update was Panda back in February of 2011 and hit affiliate sites hard.  Since then, Google has introduced two other update types named Penguin and then Hummingbird in 2013.  Hummingbird is a completely different animal compared to Panda or Penguin as it completely replaced  Google’s engine, whereas Panda and Penguin were simply updates.


Google also has thrown out plenty of unnamed updates that have hit programs hard.  This includes an update in February 2014 that penalized page layouts with too many ads above the fold.  There are also many unconfirmed updates, further increasing webmaster paranoia about these updates.


Both Panda and Penguin go after webmaster spam techniques hard.  Techniques such as the use of hidden text, cloaking and doorway pages, content duplication, link farms and many other spammy techniques now destroy traffic rankings instead of rocketing a mediocre site to the number one spot.   Further updates refined the algorithm in many different ways, making search results more useful for consumers.

How To Make Your Program Animal Update Safe
• Realize these updates are unavoidable. Some of your partners will be hit by them
• Supply as much content for your partners as possible. Refresh as often as possible and make sure everyone isn’t using the same pieces
• Educate your partners about Google’s informational tools such as their webmaster blog.
• Focus on blog placements and any content-related placements with affected sites
• Diversify your publisher portfolio. This way if an update really hurts a specific vertical, your entire program won’t be hindered
• Give it time. It can take affected sites months, or in some cases years, to regain lost traffic.

Here are some important links to help you sort through the various Google updates:

Contact Dan Fink, Senior Affiliate Manager at Schaaf-PartnerCentric, via email at or by calling (919) 367-6140.


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