Google Panda Update – SEO Survival Guide
Exactly 1 month earlier, on 24th Feb 2011, a major search engine algorithm update by Google on how it ranks sites was announced that has affected 12% of search results and halved many sites’ visitor numbers. Named the Google Farmer or Panda Update it’s only affecting US Google results as I write but if you’re outside the US it is coming to you soon. Google revealed that their internal name of this killer update was Panda, reportedly after one of the Google engineers.
The goal of Google Panda Update is noble and it is designed to get rid of “low quality” sites from the top of Google’s results pages according to Matt Cutts.
“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on“, Google’s Amit Singhal said in the announcing blog post.
However, this is NOT the first time when an algorithm change from Google has causes stirs among webmasters! Despite of experts at Google claiming that only sites with ‘poor quality content‘ and those which are ‘low-value add for users‘ being trashed by the new algorithmic update, there are reports of blogs and sites belonging to medium-sized and small-enterprises, who are fully dependent on Google-driven online traffic for their survival, are getting hurt by the panda attack!
What to do if Your Site was Panda Slapped? [Top 10 Tips]
Even though the intention of this update was genuine, unfortunately, some good sites that target the US-visitors have been hit by the Panda update, as well. If your site is one among those, then here are the top 10 tips to survive the Google Panda Update:
1. Follow what Google suggests: “If you believe you’ve been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.“
2. Get rid of any possible duplicate content from within your site. Make use of the robots.text to block Google’s bot from scrolling your categories, tags and any other page that might appear as duplicate content.
3. To help Google bots to get rid of the www and http://www confusion, add “rel=canonical” tags to block either of these versions of your URL structure.
4. Find out the pages that are affected the most by the Google Panda Update and if these pages have a higher volume of duplicate content then rewrite and tweak them to make them unique.
5. Stay away of too much advertisements on any particular page. The ratio of content vs. advertisement seem to have an impact on the overall ranking here.
6. Find out how much of your site (% of pages) is constituted by your lowest quality pages and consider using 301 redirects to point them at the best and high quality pages of your site.
7. Even if this doesn’t seem important, make sure you edit and ease up any pages that are ‘over optimized‘ [aka ‘keyword-stuffed‘ in an desperate attempt to rank higher].
8. Work towards a faster and higher quality site/blog that the readers would find informative, filled with quality editorial content and easy to navigate.
9. For all those photo or video-centric sites or blogs out there, try ensuring that you include some meaningful textual content (related to the images) along with your photo/video galleries.
10. To survive the loss in traffic caused by this Google Panda Update, opt for social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Try using these social media platforms to direct traffic to your business site and build up your brand presence.
11. If you’re sure your site is ‘Google friendly’ and still it was ‘Panda-hit’, let Google know about this mistake but if you’d ask me, don’t expect much out of this.