Many websites have recently been hit by changes in the Google algorithm. Some websites have been completely de-indexed, while others have been relegated to the back-pages of Google where no searcher is likely to find them. The Panda and Penguin updates are targeting different types of techniques that webmasters have used to gain a high search rank result for their websites. There are several things that can be done to recover from the latest updates.
Panda and Penguin target different things
Panda was first rolled out on February 21, 2011 and it was designed to target content farms and low quality websites in general. The Penguin update came out on April 24, 2012 and targets spam techniques used to artificially gain prominent placement in SERPS.
Recovering from Panda
There are a number of things that can be done to recover from Panda’s many updates. The most important is to remove content that is duplicate or of low quality from your website. Reducing the ratio of content to advertisements on your site can help (weighting towards more content on the page and above the fold). So if you have a lot of advertisements to unrelated products but very little content of value to visitors, your website needs to be cleaned up from a usability & Panda perspective.
Good resourceful content will help reduce your sites bounce rate and ensure that visitors will stay on your website for longer periods. Fixing all broken links on your website and removing all applications that slow the site load rate is another way to ensure visitors have a good experience. Every page on the website should have unique Meta titles and descriptions as the very basics. Content should be grammatically correct, well researched and just plain awesome.
Ask yourself some tough questions. Did you put a lot of editorial effort into the content on your site? If not, you will probably need to address that. Poor quality content will be noticed by users and they will vote with their clicks. For e-commerce sites that use manufacturer supplied descriptions, this may mean some tough challenges ahead.
Panda recovery is possible but without big sweeping changes you won’t recover. When making changes just make one change at a time and wait for the next update. If you don’t recover you’ll know what doesn’t work and of you recover you’ll have highlighted the issue so that you won’t fall into the same trap in the future. Panda is here to stay so be warned. Only the best will survive!
Getting over Penguin
The Penguin update (earlier referred to as the over optimisation penalty) was focused on finding exact match anchor text that was aggressively promoted by webmasters amongst other things. Overusing exact match backlinks and keyword stuffing in both internal and outbound linking was also detected by Penguin and pounced upon. Many webmasters submitted numerous low quality articles and spun articles to article directories which used to work (for a while) – not anymore! Blog spam with links back to websites was also used by many. In order to rebuild, it is necessary to replace spam links with link sources that are legitimate. A cleanup of your backlinks is suggested where possible and be prepared for some hard work. Use tools such as OpenSiteExplorer by SeoMoz to help you on your way. On your internal linking structure just ask yourself does this look natural. Guesses are if it doesn’t to a human it certainly won’t from Google’s perspective. Tone down where necessary and don’t overdo your onsite SEO.
If you can’t recover it has been suggested to take your quality content from one de-indexed domain onto a new domain and start from scratch. When adding your link to other websites stop using the same anchor text in every link and increase the variety of anchor text used. Add your link to quality websites that point back to you and remember quality over quantity is the new rule. If you feel you were unfairly targeted and are innocent of all charges, you can file a request for consideration with Google but don’t do so until your cleanup operation has been completed.
Some do’s and don’ts
Do use only unique content on your website and create content that has a high value to the end user. A good article length can be between 200 and 600 words. Use a large variety of anchor text when building links to your pages and don’t always target your homepage as this doesn’t look natural – also target your internal pages. Use some links that contain no anchor text but only the web URL or natural text such as “click here”. Lastly remove all low quality content from your website. Low quality stands out a mile and has no value to anyone other than search engines – you have to go that extra mile to build a loyal following and an army of early adopters.
Whatever you do please avoid using spun content on your website or as a link building technique. Content hubs have been hit pretty hard recently by Google and some networks of sites have been completely de-indexed from Google. Stop over-linking by using the same anchor text. Do not delete your links unless they look un-natural or if they were on a blog network that has been de-indexed. Avoid using doorway pages and buying exact match domains as link building techniques. Lastly, do not fill your sites footer with content that is overly optimized or contains too many links.
This article has been kindly contributed by Edwin Miles, marketing and SEO expert at Carfinance247.co.uk. For more information on Carfinance247.co.uk please click here.