10 May 2011

Losing Clients to Panda. I Just Lost $17,500/month.

Google Panda Update: Losing Clients to Panda. Just lost me $17,500/month.

This week I lost 3 clients…these 3 clients were all hit by the April Panda Update.

Client #1 – They’re convinced that they were not hit by Panda. I even did a post, showing analytics of 5 sites that were hit by the April Panda Update…but even when I showed those charts to this client (saying, “Hey, You’re site #5 in these charts”), they still won’t admit, or believe that the sudden drop in traffic is because they were pooped on by Panda. They’re convinced that it has something to do with some backlinks they were acquiring from other companies.  They have 163,000 backlinks….so I can’t blame them for being paranoid if they’re buying thousands and thousands of backlinks from other people…but…they’re analytics show it was Panda..and Panda is not about backlinks…So they’ve canceled all linking services, including my nice non-paid, trusted links service….oh well…that won’t get you out of Panda.

Client #2 – This is a big brand company. If you live in the USA, I’m sure you’ve seen their commercials. Personally I owned 2 of their products before I ever worked with them. This is a big e-commerce site…some of it is “Killer content” and some of it is “OK”… it’s those damn mashups of products on internal pages that can get you with Panda… and it got them… and even their great pages, and great rankings, all got hit in the April Panda update. This company has several in-house SEOs and I’m sure they also work with several other internet marketing companies…and now after Panda this company just lost 40% of their internet traffic…and a few days ago I was told they’re “on pause for services”…for “who knows how long” (probably every internet marketing vendor is “on hold” for them) while the company figures out what steps to take.

Client #3 – I started working with them in April of 2005… We took a site with good rankings and over the years we took it to the top for the short tail, and then later, for the long tail. Over the years we went through changes with them…and a few years ago they also hired some in house “SEOs” to help them out more.  The original owner, whom I had worked with for years, became much busier as the CEO of the “Worlds Largest Online Retailer of  ….” and for the past 3 years, I’ve only spoken with their in-house SEOs. The in-house SEOs didn’t work great with us…and they only did about 1/2 of what we recommend our clients do for maximum results of our work…but hey, if they’ll do half of what we ask, that’s better than nothing…and overall, their long tail still greatly improved and things were working OK…even if they didn’t do all we asked of them…

This client was hit by Panda…and I had a few calls with these new SEOs…and they, like client #1,..are stuck on it being about backlinks…they have over 200,000 backlinks…our team was able to help obtain about 250  links over the past 12 months…small in comparison to their total of links…but (in my biased opinion), ours were the best 250 links they had.  ….the links we got for them are their most trusted links that this site has..these are unpaid pertinent links where even about 25% of are edu links ….links are the least of their concerns anyway now with being hit by Panda…on top of that, several of the 200,000 backlinks that they do have, are the ones that stick out as “unnatural”… the links we get are “natural” (with a ninja influence)…. and the last call to them, which was supposed to be about me reviewing my and my teams recommendations for “solutions to Panda”  turned into a call about backlinks (them complaining when the rare edu page goes away…”why don’t you maintain these?” they ask…”Dude…do you want me to write to a college librarian and say ‘Hey, I noticed that the page on “Cars” is missing…or that the link on the cars page going to my client site is missing…would you please put that back up??”..”No!”…our link ninjas are great, because they don’t act like SEOs.).  But anyways, today the “SEO Kids” at Client #3 fired my company…. rrrrrrr.

So here I am….trying to be one of the worlds leading authorities on the Google Panda Update..and I lose 3 of my own clients to Panda… kinda sucks…

We did have a funny thing happen today when we got a call from the “Prior to Panda” biggest competitor for Client #1 who was also hit by Panda…and he wants our help and advice… advice I wish that Client #1  had asked for (I gave Client #1 advice and several reports for Free to help with Panda) and I wish they had listened to my advice…really…I’ve been around the block for over 12 years now and I still digest SEO even in my sleep…to these “kids” that work for Client #1 and Client #3,  I bet SEO is just a “job” to them…to me, it’s my life….if I say “You’ve been hit by Panda”…please believe me…. if I say, “yes, those 200k of backlinks are not cool…but that’s not what caused your traffic to plummet on April 11″…believe me.

When Panda hit, I knew we’d lose some clients… during any Google shift, people will deny it…many will blame it on “other things“…and basically people in certain positions will do anything to keep their job…and ya know..I can understand this to some degree…Fire the SEO company, save some money…you have to save money somewhere…you just lost a lot of income with Panda… and even though my site wasn’t hit,  I lost 3 clients in the past week who were hit in the April Panda Update… total “lost” income this month is $17,500, and over 12 months that would total $210,000.

These things happen.
I remember back in November of 2003 when the Google Florida Update hit (that was, I believe, 23% of all search results changing…twice as bad as panda)…and I had 2 huge clients with me at that time. Each of those 2 were 1/3 of my total income, and the remaining 25 clients made up the last 1/3 of my income… When Florida hit, one client lost rankings on 1/2 his sites…so he canceled… the other big client, knew of my other client…saw that 1/2 his sites didn’t rank anymore, and quit too (even though his rankings increased with the Florida update)… that put me down to 1/3 of my income … all in one week…. I survived… and grew… and even though Panda has hit 12-16% of all sites…we had a lot less than that percent effected overall for our clients…but it still hurts when you lose a client… losing a client I’ve had for 6 years makes me feel sad…losing anyone makes me feel sad… I don’t ever want to let a client down…and I still feel that when a client leaves, that I’ve somehow let them down…that’s why I’ve been staying at the office several nights past midnight since the April panda update happened (that was the update that effected a handful of our clients)…so I’ve been working on learning and analyzing, and even in reporting on Panda. I feel bad when I know that I can help these companies…but there are “kids” in my way… oh well… I tried with those 3 clients … I even gave them reports from our content team, our analytics team, and our usability team, and from me personally, with suggestions on what to do. I was also personally involved in every “Panda” client call… and in the end, I still lose 3 clients….I’m trying to do everything I can for them…but it’s just sad when you lose a client…especially one whom I’ve had for over 6 years…. sorry for the rant…I don’t like losing clients…nor losing $17.5k in income each month from this loss….that’s $210,000 over 12 months…and that sucks!

At least there are probably other SEO companies who are also losing clients because of Panda, and perhaps some of their old clients will come to me and my company for help…and then they will become clients…and perhaps I can earn more than $210,000 this year in new clients because of Panda…. we’ll see….

PS…it feels good to be blogging again….Hi everyone!!

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Comments

  1. Arnie May 10, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    Jim,
    Just had to leave a comment on this (misery loves company). We too have lost significant revenue over the past 2 months based on Panda and the recent “outtings”. One client was $21K/mo. and the vast majority of what we did was create solid content for them. But they and another well know brand just put the brakes on everything.

    They actually were not blaming backlinks, and they had no loss in traffic, they were just spooked by all that was going on and “management” told them to stop everything and re-evaluate their approach.

    Fortunately one of them looks like they are coming back, but as you and I both know… that’s a pretty big punch in the nose, especially when those decisions are based on hype and not facts.

    I am glad you wrote what you did. I sense many agencies are experiencing the same but are not willing to talk about it.

    Arnie

  2. Gerron Mulder May 11, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Hi Jim,

    Taking it the other way around; hasn’t Panda brought you any new clients? That would kind of surprise me since you have published some really nice articles on Panda.

    Gerron

  3. Julian May 11, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    Maybe you should create a new agency which provides services which solved problems for panda hit sites, there is massive demand for that.

    If you have the solutions to panda you would easily make $17k per month.

  4. Fabio Ricotta May 11, 2011 at 5:54 AM

    Hi Jim,

    I totally agree with you when you tell us that some SEO kids can get the idea wrong. Sometimes you don’t have a good argument to tell a Marketing Manager who needs to fire someone. Their first target will be always the consulting company involved in the field.

    In my opinion we will see a huge increase in canceled contracts due to Panda Update, but in a short time they will figure out that they need help to get out of this “panda filter / update”. So, this will be the time you will charge them 2x the price you had in contract.

    This is what I see to our niche for the next months.

    Thanks for blogging!

  5. Tony May 11, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    Jim it’s great to see you blogging again! You’re thoughts and insights on Panda are so valuable.. you’re helping me and so many other people.. keep it up man!

  6. The Fallout from Google Panda – Not Permanent | Marketing Blog | Creative Development May 11, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    […] and updated by hand now, and not on the fly as they once were. This, presumably, is because of some of the fall out from the search results the new Panda update was producing. Basically this means […]

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    […] Losing Clients to Panda. I Just Lost $17,500/Month – Sharing of experience on the Panda Update as well as reflection on previous updates […]

  8. Tops brasilia October 31, 2012 at 7:45 AM

    Jim, great post! I may be wrong, however, I think the panda came to place order. Before the panda who was ranked well was who had more backlinks independent onpage-seo, now, I believe, the scenario has changed, not just only have backlinks the site, the backlinks have to “life” and the most powerful weapon in SEO professionals we are social networks.

    Carlos

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