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Google Panda Penalty: Why Your Site Traffic Is Going Down

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Google Panda PenaltyGoogle 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. The 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, let’s see what Panda is and what Google Panda penalty means. Google Panda is 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 to 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 the Internet which will help to learn about on site and page SEO. Let’s see the other way, let’s 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 that are indexed in Google from your site. Quickly analyze what all pages are indexed and most important part is making sure none of your tags, categories, labels, search pages and any such part of your sites are indexed which doesn’t add any value.  Especially go to the 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 the 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 behaviour

User behavior on your site is one major factor for search engine ranking now. Bounce rate, time on site are some factors that play a significant 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 need to work hard on your site design, content and architect. As, on an average as a user is reading your post and jumping away. The 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 five results. Rate all the five pages on the scale of 10 and once done, analyze why you rated someone higher and why lower. Obviously, all these five results are quality content but at the same time, you measured differently to all 5 of them. If you find an answer to this, you are on the right track and now read on.

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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 that can do all this thing for you. Talking about my actions: I mostly re-edited those posts that 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 the 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 in the danger zone. Especially, if you are in the practice of adding ads in between the post. This is one of the must things that 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.

Site SEO

People are speculating that Panda means the 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 that 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 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 times. The best way to judge your site, it let a layman browse your site. See how he takes the action and if he 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 that I suggest you to keep is searching 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 the 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 three 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. The best way is to try it now and see it yourself.

There are few things that 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.

Do let us know if Panda hurts your domain? What all strategies are you taking to gain your traffic back?



By

Harsh Agrawal is a young Entrepreneur and writes at Shoutmeloud and Callingallgeeks.You can follow him on Twitter @denharsh

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    75 Comments

    • Palash

      This post is excellent for knowing regarding Google plenty.
      Thanks Harsh Your all blog post is relay helpful for us…

    • manish

      This is completely Best article fro newbie like me. i am new to blogging and this gave a boost up for blogging.
      i will try to ignore panda updates error.
      thanks a lot

    • The Importance of Keywords in SEO: A Beginner’s Guide | Trend Inside

      […] is a post that I wrote as a guest blogger on another blog, using target keywords “Google Panda Penalty“. Read and analyze the post, and you will realize the extent of the on-page optimization […]

    • Atinder

      Well, First of all, it’s not an easy task to get to know, whether our blog is penalized or not, unless, we are experience. I faced the same problem, when i started my career, that time, one of my blog got penalized due to low quality content, but I continued working on it, without knowing that it was penalized, but with experience, I recovered that blog perfect and it started ranking well on Google after the recent Panda Refresh. But, One thing I should say, recovering from Panda or Penguin can take some time, considering how much low quality content we have on our site, so it took few months for me. So, I will advice to all those who are looking recover their blog Google penalty, work smartly and keep patience. It’s the best way to do so. Btw, a very well written Post. Cheers.

    • Rahimuddin Md.

      Awesome article you put here for those who are confused about google search results. Thanks for providing information about google panda.

    • Saurabh Rampal

      Thanks for sharing. You can do something much better but i still say this perfect.

    • Saurabh Rampal

      A great article Harash, really most of the time i didn’t understand the reason of getting penalized by Google, thanks for the suggestions 🙂

    • Idham Perdameian

      Good article, thanks for suggestion, i think must doing best for my quality content to get more traffic, since i lost.

    • Alena @ asdfghjkl

      Sir my site was ranking well for the Several Keywords in Google. But since last two days there is a major drop in the Traffic. I know these was happened due to massive comments in the local languages from India.Can you tell me How to recover back. I have Removed all the comments from Blog.

    • Cat

      hmm think we may have experienced penalty – relatively new site (www.yeity.com) and are traffic was on the rise and then suddenly dropped. We still don’t even have a page rank that’s how fresh we are!

    • Aniruddh

      Can you please share the details of recent Panda updates..

    • Mustafa Gamal

      Really Great Article Regarding Panda Updates but what about new sites should follow all that tips and is there any tool to check if my site is affected by panda ??

      thanks Harsh Agrawal

    • Google Analytics JS Bookmarklet: Check WebPage Traffic Instantly

      […] as instead of working on new content, you improving your old content. And, if you are aware of Panda penalty, it’s mostly because of thin content of your blog. So, even few low quality content may lead […]

    • Sanjay

      Google panda affect most of the Blogger site, main aim to punish those who use Keyword Stuffing without content or Article  😀 , but your site never affect as its genuine with useful content 🙂 
       

    • jasjotbains

      I was too hit by the Panda update, but my penalty was revoked. Traffic is down to just 20%, but its due to 30% of the links (from sites linking to my images) being broken. Building links slowly is how I am getting about getting back up to my original page impressions

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    • Alex

      Too many do's and donts, no wonder many decided to start a new site from scratch on a clean act right at the start. For those who can't afford this sacrifice start with removing Internal duplicate content assumed to be crucial for Panda recovery.

    • kapil@Smschacha.com

      Really Great Article Regarding Panda Updates.My Other Blogs Had Really Affected By This Update.But I am Running A Jokes Sms Blog Named As http://www.smschacha.com. I Am Quite Confused Regarding This, That How Many Minimum Words a Particular Post Contains In This Blog. Please Any Body Help Me Regarding This??

      I Normally Written Few Words For Every Post On My Blog…

    • John

      You must remember that user behavior is one of the most important factors for search engine ranking. Everything from bounce rate to time on site play an important role.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.

    • johnnyd

      How can you be so sure that you are right ?!?! Did you perform case studies or you just regurgitated the same general guidelines ?

    • peace

      Harsh, I want to ask something related to jumping of your keyword search with hours of time. What I have noticed in Google over past few months, (especially on a website which is hit by Panda effect), social media submission take results come generally above your own submission. Previously it never used to happen on brand new websites. Wherever you have submitted your link for example Digg, then digg link should come below your own website in search but results are other way round? Do you have any idea how to resolve such issues.

      • S.Pradeep Kumar

        I can understand your question mate. Unfortunately there is no 100% working solution for this, since such submission sites have higher rankings, say for eg, Digg. You can try to set some gap, like you can submit the link to Digg after some hours from publishing. Normally if your post ranks well then it can overwrite these issues.

    • Sam@Indiaexamhub

      Very nice info. Google Panda works great this time. They really improving Search Results. Even They changed their policy.

    • Google Panda Minor Update December 19th

      […] have see any traffic change from 19th December. I also suggest you to check out my guest post on Google panda penalty to get more ideas on how you can recover from Google […]

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    • Atul Bansal

      simply awesome article man
      A question here. You said that you edited your old articles and published on same date.

      I am little confused here.
      Same date means the date on which the article was published initially or the current date.?

      Also, can you pls suggest way to noindex some of old articles individually?

    • VTCIndia

      This is awesome article.Easy .to understand how to recover from panda effect

    • VTCIndia

      This is a great information. I am also suffering from panda effect

    • Nonoy

      Very valuable information for bloggers.

      My blog is one of those affected. I will fix my pages as what you have advised here. I really hope my my old traffic will be back as soon as Google updates again next year.

      Thanks a lot for this post.

    • plaban

      Google Panda hit my blog few months ago. Now I'm trying my best to recover from it. I'll be following the panda recovery tips.

    • vivek

      nice article i am not a seo expert.I had written many post but did not get good amount of traffic.now i will use these method may be i get good traffic.i want to ask you that how can i increase my blog speed?

      • S.Pradeep Kumar

        Maybe this one could be useful mate :

        http://hellboundbloggers.com/2009/09/12/tips-to-improve-your-blogs-loading-speed/

        But the major things are hosting and your blog's theme.

    • Mani

      My blog traffic is increased by 20% than before.Best of Luck to all bloggers!

    • Jake

      The best way to beat this is to invest your time in social media. Create page of your blog in both Google Plus and Facebook with syndication to Twitter.

    • RLRowe

      Your article covers a lot of ground and provided tough to find answers to important sought after SEO questions.

      nice work!

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    • Vignat

      Worked great for me!!!

      Thanks a lot!!!

    • Atul @ Android Geeks

      Thanks Harsh for this useful amnd detailed insight post Really we all need something to get survive from this Panda
      Got to know that posts like old months coupon codes can prove negative to blog's health

    • Namit Gupta

      Great Article Harsh! Please let us know what are your recommended sites for social bookmarking? Which selected sites you use the most for social bookmarking your articles?

    • IndiaZip

      Such a nice post Harsh. Love it. Clear all point. Start working on it now.

    • Ankit Bansal

      That was such an awesome article with handful of useful stuff and info. Its so well written. No doubt whatsoever on the quality of writing.I will definitely try and implement all the steps. Thanks a lot for sharing. 🙂

    • Vijayraj Reddy

      Nice post Harsh Agrawal…. I have a question – You said to edit the older posts and re-publish them… how about editing post titles? For example i will edit a post title "Hostgator June 2010 discount coupon" to "Hostgator June 2011 discount coupon" and re publish it…. Does it hurt my SEO? how does it effect my search ranking for that post?

      • S.Pradeep Kumar

        Hi Vijayraj,

        I don't really think there will be any effect in the search results, but you can make a new post for sharing next month's coupon in order to avoid confusion. 🙂

    • Sandeep Singh

      Google Panda has been on one side beneficial as it heads to point better search results but at the same time many bloggers have affected from it. I think if you are producing unique articles then no panda can hamper your site. Great Article HARSH ! For my site i had to manually delete posts which were of low quality bcoz i dint know of the plugins. Really beneficiary article.

    • chandan

      Hi Harsh a very nice and broad overview on google panda penalty and how to recover from it. After reading your article I get the idea why I am not able to improve ranking of my online gaming site. I have checked google webmaster tool, there are many pages that showing duplicate titles and meta description. I will have to fully analyze my site and then have to recover all the things that hurting my site for improving ranking.

    • Phanindra

      Really excellent source of information Harsh. Though my site didn't get much issues due to Panda updates but I still would do the best practices as suggested in order to save my blog from next Panda Updates 🙂

    • Aryan@JustTipsandTricks

      Nice Article Man 🙂
      is there any update of google on 19 november 2011 ?

    • Adeline

      Good informative post Harsh! Been following your guide on SML as well and found it very helpful. Such a pity that other search engines aren't as popular as Google or have a sensible ad revenue program like Google does. Then we wouldn't have to put up with Google's ridiculous Panda updates that affect genuine sites.

    • Gaurav

      If we block wp-content, access from Robots.txt, how google will index images we uploaded?

    • Salman @ Tech Blog

      Great share Harsh !!

      Really great tips to recover from the ferocious panda ..

      BTW I'd like to ask how to add no index to a particular post ? I have removed some low quality posts from web search using GWT but unable to figure out how to add noindex to them ?

      • Harsh Agrawal

        Salman you can use plugin like Robots meta to add noindex and nofollow tag. And when you noindex or delete a post, make sure to go to Webmaster tool and remove them from web index.

    • Life Saver Google Panda WordPress Plugins : Netchunks

      […] plugins which will help us to perform various SEO and maintenance tasks which will minimize the Google panda penalty effect. I’m not going into details about What is Google panda and what it’s effect but […]

    • Kavya Hari

      Hello Harsh. this type of information will be more to all the bloggers. Its really informative post about Google panda penalty on here .

    • Manish

      Hey Harsh nice article, well I think every SEO should take Google panda update seriously because Google wants that every internet marketer should implement white hat SEO tactics for their websites. SEO is not dead at all, but yes it is dead for those who are doing black hat SEO. So keep focusing white hat SEO tactics.

    • Ifham khan

      Very nice information to recover from google panda. Last week I hit by panda and yes I got the reason why I hit is because of low speed, then I started on working to increase my blog loading speed and yes again getting huge traffic. Thanks for the other tips Harsh 🙂

    • Ashok

      No doubt, it is a very useful article. But, I don't know when I searched site:shoutmeloud.com on Google, it still shows some 31000 to 42000 results (number of results varies from search to search), whereas the number of articles on that site is much-much less. In his sitemap, there are a total of about 1969 pages only (to his credit, Harsh has not included unnecessary pages in the sitemap; which is the correct approach). This means that still a very large number of unnecessary pages have been indexed by Google on his site, inspite of removing tags, category, author pages from the indexing.

      On the other hand, for my blog, the Google site search shows the correct number (more or less) of indexed pages, since from the very beginning I had not indexed the category, tags, author, date-archive pages, etc.

      Would request Harsh to offer his comments, whether Google is yet to remove indexing of his category / tags / pages or there is some other reasons.

      • Harsh Agrawal

        @Ashok
        I'm glad that you searched and asked this question. While writing this article, I intentionally didn't mentioned the reasons, as I wanted one of the reader to ask this question.
        You see all those link because of URL parameter mostly "replytocom" …
        I already made required changes but Google takes time to remove such links from index…!!
        So waiting for Google to deindex them..!!!

    • Eapen@InternetMarketingTips

      Very informative article, Harsh ! Thanks ! It will be very beneficial for many bloggers. All that Google is looking out for is unique, high quality content with less ads on ones' post. If you have that you need not worry, otherwise the Big G is gonna catch you on your collars and throw you down the alley.

      You have a great site Harsh ! Very clean and easy to read…!

      • Harsh Agrawal

        @Eapen Glad you liked this article and my site 🙂
        That's true and honestly now I'm liking Panda more as it changed the face of blogging… Earlier we have seen any random blogger coming up with a crap site and started outranking quality and useful content..but after panda update it's not not the same…Now we will be getting more quality article in search and most imp better results..!!!

    • Extreme John

      Thanks for sharing this information. Google Panda penalty is really a pain in the butt. I hope a lot of people would be aware of this situation and I hope we could get more information from here.

    • sham

      That's great insight indeed! Will try putting it into implementation 🙂

    • Anil

      Thanks Harsh sir… it was very helpful info .. I was also ignoring this…

    • junaid @ Technology Blog

      Have no words for them, so good and by reading these points we can recollect the mistakes made by us.thnx for the great and awesome information.

    • Irfan @RealTimeTricks

      No doubt on the article's quality.
      The best source to read on Google Panda is this quest post. It will go straight to my bookmarks.

    • Nasif

      Very well written post. I have been hit by panda since two days ago. Now, it's time for depth research and analysis Thanks for the wonderful post.

    • Aman Arora @ Coders Blog

      Simply awesome article, Alot of information. Thanks for this man. I am gonna take care of all this from the starting for my new blog 🙂

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