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Letter to Matt Cutts: Google’s Panda Update for India – Case Study

Posted on: July 17, 2012

Dear Matt,

We’ve interacted in the past on various platforms which you may/may not remember but that’s not very important right now.

I thought Google may be missing out on providing the highest quality of search results in India that it’s known for, based on what I’ll mention in the next couple of paragraphs.

The Panda update, although great for search experience for the general English speaking world, is not the best idea for a country like India because English is not the native language of most of India’s citizens. English is a secondary language for Indians (you probably noticed the grammatical irregularities during your recent visit to Hyderabad) and therefore, expecting very high quality of written English from “user driven” (not editorial) websites in India is futile. You won’t get that here.

In fact, most users write such bad English that we spend considerable time correcting grammar from their comments on our clients’ websites worrying that these sites might be penalised for bad English. However, this can’t be done for forums or other user generated content.

Examples from an Indian university Q&A website :

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   Example above: Bad grammar

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   Example above: Use of Hindi or another native language between text 

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Example above: All CAPS and sometimes very little content on one page.

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Example above: A mix of all CAPS, bad grammar, but very useful information for other visitors

Very Brief Case Study:

The result of these updates is that most websites that are based on user-user interaction with indexable content have disappeared off Google (or at least that’s what I’ve been noticing recently). A good example perhaps is: http://www.madras-university.in/ - a site that I built a few years ago because the official university website provided little or no information and a website that has now been adopted by the university and is one of the few reliable sources of information for students of the University of Madras (now Chennai). Every question is answered as accurately as possible by someone from the University but what are you going to do about the quality of English written by the question posters? This site has lost its ranking and so have innumerable others that are based on user content.

You’ve probably had this information before but I thought you needed to know in case you hadn’t.

My suggestion would be applying a milder version of the Panda to countries that have English as their second language so as to put it simply.

Best regards,
Arjun

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