Visibility Indexes And The Super Long-Tail

In 2011 the major headlines of the search publications covered the Panda update and Google’s war on the long-tail. Within the search industry, but also in larger publications it has been widely reported that Google’s Panda update was introduced to eliminate rankings for sites of little value. Companies such as Demand Media have been literally trashed across the web for polluting the web with low quality content.

Influential bloggers and even main stream media called “Panda” the end of content farms like Howstuffworks.com, the of price comparison portals such as Pronto, the death of review sites such as Ciao.com and ultimately a great thing for the internet.

This data was all backed up by SEO Visibility scores from various vendors across the globe. But what did really happen:

The Panda update hit only a tiny fraction of the search queries that are daily going on. This has to do with the fact that up to 25% of the daily searches are complete new queries. This could be new words, trends, inventions, brands or other stuff that just nobody typed in before.

That’s why everyone in the industry needs to make sure to remember that visibility scoring is based on a limited amount of data. It’s a great indicator about where the wind might be blowing at that particular moment in time, but it’s far from being accurate.

The issues with accuracies just has to do with the fact that the SEO Software market is very fragmented and larger companies, which would allow significant infrastructure investment, do not exist in the SEO industry. Even the leaders in SEO enterprise software have active revenues under $15 million / year.

If you take all this in consideration it is not surprising why companies like Demand Media still print a good junk of money despite their visibility score being down.

Even certain industries such as e-commerce shops with lots of products such as Custom Printing by Print Lion or massive content download sites such as Tradebit are still doing very well b/c their super long-tail traffic hasn’t been affected.