Did you see a significant drop in your website’s traffic around February last year? If so, chances are you were hit by Google’s Panda update, which acted as a quality filter and was aimed at reducing the amount of spammy content appearing in the search results.
Since Google’s original release of Panda, there have been various iterations, each trying to further refine the sites which are affected, as many legitimate sites were originally hit without knowingly doing anything manipulative.
Because of this, it’s important all webmasters are aware of what types of issues on their site could create Panda problems and, if they do suffer, what they can do to recover:
What Makes Your Site Vulnerable to Panda?
- A lack of original, unique content
- A large amount of duplicate content (internal or external)
- A high % of pages with low quality content, even if your top pages are highly rated
- Lots of adverts
- Unnatural use of a word or phrase on the page, i.e. keyword stuffing
- Low quality links pointing at the site
- The content on the page and/or title tag not matching search
- Low amount of time spent on the page or site as a whole
What Should You Do If the Panda Bites You?
Locate the Problem
- Find pages which have been worst hit
- Identify what affected pages are doing which others are not
- Test changes on those pages
Eradicate the Issues
- Take the issues and pages you have highlighted and work through them to remove the problems
- Remove low quality pages and consolidate the site so every page is doing a job and worthwhile
- Write unique content for pages which have duplicate content
- Edit over optimised pages so they are targeted at a user rather than a search engine
- Try to add different forms of content; images, videos etc
Promote Your Site
- Once you’ve corrected the on-site issues which may be annoying the big bad Panda, it’s time to move your focus to promoting your newly streamlined site
- Promote content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+
- Reach out to blogs in your niche and ask if you can contribute content to their sites in order to generate higher quality links
Once you’ve been through this process, it’s unlikely that you’ll immediately recover the traffic lost originally, but don’t be discouraged! Once sites have corrected all Panda-related issues, they then have to wait until the next iteration of the update, at which point Google will judge whether you have overcome the issues. If you’ve done enough to ‘untrip’ the switch you flicked to get struck by Panda, then you should see you traffic start to climb back to where it was originally.
The Panda Update has caused a lot of webmasters a lot headaches, but if you think you’ve been hit it’s worth taking the time to run through the points highlighted above. As well as recovering traffic, it’s more than likely you’ll come out the other side with a better site for users which has the potential to convert better.