Google Panda penalty is one of the most talked term in Blog-sphere from last 9 months and we have seen lots of iteration in Panda. Now, when Panda was first released in Feb 2011, my blog traffic was slightly hurt and Panda being a new thing, I completely ignored it. Situation become worse when traffic went down from 18000/day to 4000. And in blogging, losing this much of traffic is like losing a fortune.
Last month in a bloggers meet, I met few pro-bloggers from India and one of the hot discussion topic was Google Panda Penalty. Sad part was, most of them were taking SEO and panda non-seriously and none of them showed interest to fix it and recover from Panda. Many of them were like it’s just a tweak and with-time this will be fixed. My answer: Want to recover from Panda, stop planning and start acting right away. The very first step to start with is: Why Google panda updates are impacting your site. If this impact if good or bad. If after every update your traffic is going down constantly, it’s time to make a well-planned SEO strategy and work on it.
What is Google Panda penalty?
Before we move ahead with reasons for Panda penalty, lets see what is Panda and what Google Panda penalty means. Google panda is basically a major tweak in search engine algorithm, whose aim is to push the quality site up and lower down the ranking of low quality content. Unlike all previous update, Google panda is a domain level penalty, which means even if you have 5-10 low quality content, your whole domain might get hurt because of this. The best way to check for Google panda penalty is open your Google Analytics and check these dates for any traffic drop or increase.
Google Panda update dates:
- Feb 24th 2011
- April 11th-12th 2011
- May 9th 2011
- June 18th 2011
- July 23rd 2011
- September 28th 2011
- October 9th 2011
- October 13th 2011
- October 18-19 2011
In most of the cases, you will either notice an increase or notice a drop. Well, somebody loss is somebody gain here again. Now if you have seen a traffic drop, it means somewhere your site is lacking something. Or, you might be giving such signals to Google, which push your site down from the grade of quality site or trust-able site. Your first goal is to find what is it? Is it : Content quality-thin content, On site SEO, Too many ads, blog load time, design and many more. I will focus on some major points which will be helpful for you to lower down the impact of Google Panda penalty.
Site indexed pages
I’m not going to talk in-depth about your site SEO, as there are many resources on Internet which will help to learn about on site and on page SEO. Lets see the other way, lets check how Google indexes your blog. Go to Google.com and search for site:domain.com. Replace domain with your domain address. For ex: Site: ShoutMeLoud.com
You will find all the pages which are indexed in Google from your site. Quickly analyze what all pages are indexed and most important part is make sure none of your tags, categories, labels, search pages and any such part of your sites are indexed which doesn’t add any value. Specially go to last page and if it’s saying “Show omitted results”, click on that and see if your site pages are indexed with parameters like replytocom or iSalt or any other. If yes, well you need to work on following factor:
- Block wp-content, wp-includes access from Robots.txt
- Add noindex meta tag to Tags, Categories, Authors and any such page which doesn’t add value.
- Use canonical tag.
Specially if you are tired of URL parameters and such useless link which is getting indexed in Google due to non-canonical tag, you should grab this .htaccess code for clean WordPress URL.
User behavior on your site is one major factor for search engine ranking now. Bounce rate, time on site are some factors which plays a major role here. If your site is cluttered with news from different niche, your site might have bounce rate. Also, no. of page views/visit is like 1 or 1.5, you really need to work hard on your site design, content and architect. As, on an average as user is reading your post and jumping away. User might be leaving your blog instantly because of some of this factor: low-quality content, irrelevant page, too many ads, difficult to read or slow load time. Your target should be lower down the bounce rate and increase the no. of page views/visit.
Thin or low quality content
If you have been writing all news post with no insight or little insight, your domain might be on the verge of Google panda penalty. There is no exact definition of Thin content, but here I’m going to give you a quick task, which will help you to understand the difference. Go to Google.com and search for “How to write SEO optimized content” and analyze the first 5 results. Rate all the 5 pages in the scale of 10 and once done, analyze why you rated someone higher and why lower. Obviously, all these 5 results are quality content but at the same time, you rated differently to all 5 of them. If you find an answer to this, you are on the right track and now read on.
From my experience. I was working on analyzing and finding thin content on my blog.
- Most of my early days post which are usually 100-200 words and most of them are outdated.
- Too many meta Keywords
- Too many use of H3 tags
- Announcement post which dies after some time. For ex: Hostgator June 2010 discount coupon.
- Pages with high bounce rate.
- Useful topic but without any insight.
- Long meta description
- Page load time
- Duplicate content (PR, news posts)
Now, once you have found out all thin content on your blog, there are couple of actions which you can take:
- Re-edit the posts
- Noindex them and remove from Google Web search.
- Delete them and remove from Google Web search.
If you are not an expert in this, you might like to hire any SEO expert or SEO company which can do all this thing for you. Talking about my actions: I mostly re-edited those posts which fall into the category of thin content but are useful. I added more information and republished it on the same day. You can see on such example on my post on BuySellads review. This post, was earlier in 300 words and offer very less insight. Though the information was accurate but many more information can be added to it. I made all the changes and used LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) to make the content more SEO friendly and boom, that post is now on the first page of Google.
Too many Advertisements
Without ads, it’s impossible to survive as a professional blogger. Google never says No to ad but a big NO when it comes to too many ads. If your ads are added in a way, which clutter the site design or you are adding too many ads around the post, you might be standing on the danger zone. Specially, if you are in practice of adding ads in between the post. This is one of the must things which you should not do. Make sure, you don’t have too many ads above the fold and not too many ads around the content. Check 5 Profitable ways to monetize your blog without banners.
People are speculating that Panda means death of SEO, which is not true at all. Panda enhances the complete algo of Google search and makes it better. There are many safe SEO practices which everyone should follow for example: Canonical URL’s, backlink building, Sitemap, Site architect and other SEO checklist. Your on page SEO also plays a great role here. If you have never ever done SEO optimization of your website, you might be missing a big chunk of traffic and most important your site might not rank well in search engine.
There are many other factors like Page speed, too many poor backlinks, spun content, too many down time. The best way to judge your own site, it let a layman browse your site. See how he takes the action and if he actually go to other content or just leave. Is he facing problem understanding your content or he has some additional questions after reading your content.
One simple approach which I suggest you to keep is, search Google for the topic you are writing. Analyze the content of first 5-6 results and get an idea of what all you have to cover. Not to forget, even if you are writing complete detail, you might be missing the important on page SEO factors like Keyword in permalink, H1-H2-H3 tags and so on. You can probably consider purchasing plugins like Clickbumb, Easy WP SEO or ScribeSEO and optimize your content better on WordPress platform. I have been doing the same from last few months and all such re-edited posts started getting their traffic back. One easy way to monitor is, grab Keyword monitor software and check keyword position of any page before editing it, and compare it after 3 days of re-editing it. Adding more to it, after 3 days, do the social bookmarking submissions and promotion and check the Keyword position for that post.
I have seen my keyword position improving in following pattern 89>38>8. Before editing my experimental post, it was ranking at 89th position for my target keyword, after optimizing and adding more information, it jumped to 38 in 12 hrs. After social media submission it jumped to 8th position. Though 3-4 posts are too less to come up with such conclusions but yes, it does help. Best way is to try it now and see it yourself.
There are few things which you should start doing from now on:
- Write quality posts with complete detail.
- Social bookmarking. (Very important)
- Regularly update your blog.
- A nice site layout with less clutter
- Use Breadcrumbs
- Utilize Youtube & Flickr to drive more traffic.
Well, if you fall in the category of Panda beaten blogger, you might be having nightmare about your Blogging future. Though, there is no 100% recovery but once you start recovering from Panda penalty, you will be getting more targeted traffic than before and your earning will be back to normal, even with less traffic.
- Recommended reading: How to recover from Google Panda effect.
Do let us know if your domain is hurt by Panda? What all strategies are you taking to gain your traffic back?