Google Panda was one of the most controversial algorithm update from Google, but with time it helped a lot to remove low-quality websites from search engine and overall it improved the quality of search results. Though for many webmasters, Google Panda updates are still a headache and at unknowingly many good websites lost their search engine ranking due to Panda penalty. If you are one of those bloggers who lost their web site traffic after latest Google panda algorithm update roll out, Here I will be sharing tested tips to recover from Google Panda.
Before we move ahead with panda recovery tips, I would like you to know Google Panda is a domain level penalty. What I mean is, if earlier you’ve had low-quality content, it was your content that was penalized, but now if you have low-quality content, your complete domain will be penalized. One of the simplest ways to get rid of Panda penalty is by getting rid of low-quality content. I will do a separate post for identifying low-quality posts but here I will give you a brief idea that will help you get started with the recovery process.
We all know that Google rolled out the Google Panda algo globally, and you might also have noticed many bloggers talking about a traffic increase or significant traffic drop. We always talk about SEO optimization of blog posts and since the Google Panda algorithm it’s become mandatory to do proper SEO on the site level and content level. In this post I will be talking about how to recover from Google Panda effect, and what you can do to better optimize your blog for the Google search engine, so that your blog will be bullet-proof from future Google Panda updates in 2015 and the coming years. Panda is just an algorithm iteration, and as Matt Cutt, mentioned, now sites will also get penalized for over SEO optimization. So, I would suggest avoiding any black hate SEO (If you are doing it), and focus more on quality content and increasing your site’s social media presence. In particular, Google+1 is going to be a holy grail for bloggers in the future.
Update: I have updated this article with new tips that I implemented on my websites and have seen good recovery over time. Here is a screenshot of the same.
Before I move ahead with Google Panda recovery tips, let me tell you something about PJERA. PJERA was affected by the Google Panda algorithm, and the traffic drop was around 60%. I have always taken care of SEO, but at the initial days of blogging, when I was new to blogging, most of my content was short and of low quality. We will look into a couple more factors that lead to Panda penalty for this site and other sites in my network. One thing, in particular, Google Panda taught me was about the importance of keywords, and why you need to have a target keyword in a post. Just for the info, in this process I recovered the traffic but as I mentioned, recovery was not 100%. Slowly it’s increasing, and by ranking for target keyword now I’m getting more targeted visitors.
As I mentioned above, Google Panda is a domain level penalty, so even a couple of bad content/posts can affect your overall blog ranking. The very first step you need to do is figure out thin content or content that doesn’t add much value. For example, in the initial days of my blogging, I usually wrote posts with 30-50 words with one image and a link. Something, which I can say doesn’t add much value to readers. I guess, this is the same dilemma with others too.
Often I found out I had much low-quality contents, thereby, I had a couple of choices: no-index them, delete them or update them with detailed information to make it a quality content, so that it would be helpful and useful to readers.
Anyways, before you find out more about recovering from the Google Panda algorithm change, first understand what kind of website Google Panda is going to affect.
- A website with low quality (Thin content)
- A website that works as content farm
- A website with useless pages indexed in Google (Same as content farm)
- A website with improper SEO structure
- Duplicate content (On-site and off-site)
- Too many advertisements
- Poor grammar
- Slow site loading time
- SEO over-optimization (Black hat SEO)
One easy way to find out if your site traffic drop is the result of Panda or something else is by analyzing traffic drop dates and matching it with the Panda update dates here
Here are some of the most common reasons for Panda penalty:
- Low-quality content: Too short, not well researched.
- Poor grammar (Still working on it) Sigh!
- Ad/content ratio
- Too many broken links (404 links)
- Less CTR from Search engines (Poor meta title, weak meta description)
There could be other factors, but these are something that needed instant attention. Most of the broken links and redirects were quickly fixed by the Broken link checker WordPress plugin.
Now before we move ahead, here are some factors you should know about Google panda:
- It’s a domain level penalty.
- A few low-quality posts can drop overall domain ranking.
- Google trust quality sites.
- Google Panda lowers down overall ranking of low-quality sites.
- On-site SEO optimization becomes important.
- The quality of a post is taken as a prime factor for ranking.
- Niche based websites are better than generic sites.
How to find out if the Google Panda algo affected your website?
This is the first thing that you should be doing as webmaster. The recent Panda update was rolled out on 23rd September 2014, go to your analytics and see the graphs for the date mentioned above and compare it with last 10 days. If you see a significant drop or rise in traffic, that means your website is getting the hiccups of the Google Panda effect. You can also use this link to sign up for a free-trial account of SEMRUSH, and there you can see the increase or decrease in your keyword ranking. (See below screenshot)
So if you are one of those who are seeing an increase in traffic, it’s time to take a break! Grab a coffee or have gala time with your friends. But if you are one of those who were affected by the Panda effect, I suggest reading this post seriously, as you need to work really hard to recover from Panda effect.
Steps to recover from Google Panda updates:
Write quality content:
I’m sure you’re tired of being told “Write quality content and traffic will follow you”. When I say write quality content, it means write a complete post along with targeted keywords. Your post should be optimized for certain keywords and should not be just a random post. A quality post written without any targeted keywords is a useless post. You might get praise and lots of appreciation, but people won’t be able to find it in the search engine after some time.
Google takes quality and length very seriously and there are certain things which you should keep in mind including the word count of your blog post. For example, a post like “How to recover from Google Panda” can be written in 5 simple steps, or could be written in detailed how-to guide like this. Now, we know which one a reader would prefer, but what about a search engine? When you write a detailed article, you cover more keywords and especially you add more information into your post. According to an SEO debunked study, articles with longer length ranks fairly well. I have even tested and verified this after I optimized many old blog posts.
Here is food of thought: How do you think a search engine rank a content? Search engines uses algorithms to decide post ranking. How do you think a search engine will give you exact results for your search query? Here is where LSI words comes into picture, which helps search engines to understand exact categories for your article. Along with that, you use bold, italics, Keyword in H1, H2 and H3 tag to make your content more search engine targeted. You should maintain a certain ratio for Keywords density. I know it all sounds hard but look at the screenshot below.
I use a Premium plugin call SEOPressor to optimize my blog posts. To avoid over optimization, I usually keep the optimization ratio around 70%, and it’s working great for me. Here is the search engine position of one of the post after using this plugin:
There are many other similar SEO plugin like this available: Prefer using a plugin that gives you on-page SEO score and keyword density score. This will certainly help in long run.
Remove unnecessary pages/posts from Google search:
The very first step is to see what all pages or posts are part of Google, search from your domain. In the past, it was good to have more indexed pages but now it’s important to have only important pages and posts. Useless posts or pages just becomes a part of search engine and doesn’t add values.
Don’t forget to go to the last page and click on show omitted results. As Google put possible duplicate and low quality content from any domain under 2nd tier results.
You can use plugin like Meta robots WordPress SEO Plugin to make your category/tags/date archive pages as noindex. Another tip which you should keep in mind: Always keep your internal links as Dofollow. Google suggests you to use noindex tag when you don’t want bots to index any page/post and Robots.txt to stop crawling admin and private part of a website.