Hey Google, Wikio CEO says he's not scared of your little Panda

By now, most of you have probably heard of Wikio. The Luxemburg-based media group first started making headlines when it merged with French blogging platform, Overblog, back in September. The rumor at the time was that it was going to be a “European Google News for blogs”.

Just a few weeks later, Wikio went on to swallow up Nomao, which describes itself as a “personalized search engine”. And as if that wasn’t enough to make Europe feel like it was living the Silicon Valley life, rumors of a huge, potential 8-figure investment round surfaced. That funding is yet to be confirmed but all the news concerning Wikio over the last few months has been nothing shy of impressive.

Oh, and then Google came along.

Wikio, like many companies, has been hit by Google’s recent update of its algorithm, Panda. Panda – which is simply meant to provide less spammy search results – has reduced the visibility of a number of sites, including eHowVideoJug and Microsoft-owned Ciao by up to 94%. For all the SEO freaks out there, you can check out some of the grim statistics here. And according to an article published in Capital, Wikio’s visibility also dropped by 91%. Ouch.

But Wikio founder and CEO, Pierre Chappaz, says he’s not scared of the big, bad Panda. And no, it’s got nothing to do with Google’s ballooning retention packages and tumbling stock prices. In fact, he published an article on his personal blog to explain exactly what Wikio would do in the face of Panda.

First off, Chappaz explains that he’s been an internet entrepreneur for the last 12 years. And as the former founder of Kelkoo, this is not the first time he’s had to deal with a change in algorithm. Plus, he’d already been concerned with being overly Google-dependent. I guess this is why he had been concentrating on building Wikio Groupe and on leveraging B2B and B2C services in parallel. But still, today’s typical internet user doesn’t go directly to the site he or she is looking for. A majority of us just type something into Google Search and never click beyond the first page of results.

And so, rather than worrying about SEO, Chappaz says the key is to concentrate on providing users with added value. For example, Wikio News tries to differentiate itself from Google News by providing additional curated content pulled from social media. Oh yeah, and there’s also the blog rankings.

But thankfully, Wikio isn’t expecting to combat Google with just that. In addition, he states that the company has had limited means and hasn’t been able to build “the service of its dreams”. (No comment on that 8-figure investment round, I guess.) He’s event had to do a bit of down-sizing with the Wikio News team recently. Sad, but true.

Still, the company counts additional services, like Overblog, Nomao, Wikio Shopping and Wikio Experts – a marketplace for freelancers. And so Chappaz states that thanks to this strategy, the company expects to make €20 million in revenue this year with 100% growth. Yeah, I guess that makes the Panda less scary – but who knows what these figures could’ve been…