It’s been long I have talked about Google Panda and other algorithm updates, and this post is extending our Google Panda algorithm series post. First of all, Google rolled out last panda update (Google Panda 25th) around mid of March 2013, and this will be the last known update, as Matt Cutts confirmed that Panda is now part of Google search algorithm and now it will not be pushed manually <Source>. This will be a major problem for webmasters in future, as it will be hard to diagnose why site traffic is going down. Is it because of Panda penalty, penguin or any other SEO mistakes. Till now we had tools like Penguintool, AlgoSleuth, which checks your analytic report against known panda updates date, to confirm if you got hit by Panda or not.
Anyways, here is a work-around which you can use to find if your site is penalized (It could be any of the updates). This could be done by using SEM tool call SEMRUSH, which added a new feature call Position changes, which shows for how many keywords you lost the ranking and for how many keywords you gained the ranking. If you site is losing keyword ranking to a great extent, it means you are penalized by any of the Google algo updates including Panda. This is just a work around, but still a tool worth referring to. You could also take help of their SE traffic tool feature to analyze a website for panda penalty. Check the screenshots:
Now, it’s a good time to start focusing on quality of site, as in future it will be hard to understand why your site is penalised, and you will have little room for improvement like in the past. In future, it will be more hit and trial, and not taking exact corrective measures to fix panda penalty. I have already shared how to recover from Google panda, which explains in detail about things you could do to get out of site wide penalty. Here I’m sharing a quick guide, which will help you to fix most common problems, if your site traffic is going down and your site is losing search engine ranking.
Start here to fix Google Panda penalty:
A site SEO audit is necessary if your site is losing traffic and the best way to start is by using Google. Sites which are penalized by panda is mostly because of low quality content issue. Even few low-quality content can hamper your entire site. More over, after all the recent updates, niche sites are ranking way higher than multi-niche sites. So, if you are writing on multiple topics on your blog, I would recommend you to focus on one niche. This will help you to create an authority in a niche, else you will always be outranked by a niche authoritative website.
Here are two things which you should know:
If your site is penalized by Panda, it could be because of many reasons, but two most common reasons could be:
- Your content is poor, low-quality. Which includes you are writing content which are either not up to the mark, you might have copied content from other websites, or your content is not adding value.
- Your Website SEO is not up to the mark, and you are un-knowingly create shallow content from your blog. Ex: Tag pages, category pages or pages with duplicate meta title. This also includes over all SEO structure of your blog (lots of broken links, lots of re-direction), and you have to work on it to fix it.
Fixing content will take time, and if you want to quickly fix major issues, I recommend to work on site wide SEO issues first. A good way to start is by checking what pages from your blog which is indexed in Google. Go to Google search and type site:domain.com and see what all pages Google have indexed from your blog. Go to the last page, and do click on show omitted search results. A quick glance will give you an idea, if there are low quality pages are indexed or not. For every result, ask a question to yourself: “Is this page useful for Google search or for users”. If tags and categories pages are indexed, they are useful for content navigation, and improves user experience, but they are not useful for search engines. Check below given screenshot for an example of low-quality pages:
Such links are not useful for search engines (Above screenshot), and many time they create duplicate meta description issue (not in above example). So your first step should be:
- Get rid of all such unwanted indexed pages/part of your blog. Instead of using robots.txt, use noindex meta tag to get rid of such pages or part of your blog.
Find duplicate Meta descriptions and titles:
Once you got rid of unwanted links and pages from web-index, it’s time to finding content with duplicate meta title or description. This happens due to many reasons including using a bad SEO plugin, URL parameters and various other factors. You can use Google webmaster tool to find pages with duplicate mete description and meta titles. If you are looking for more extensive solution, Try SEOMOZ or Ahrefs tool.
Once you fixed these few SEO issues on your site, you are on the right way to fix Google penalty for your website. In short, so far you have fixed your site architecture, and improved the way Google index and crawl your sites.
Improve on content level:
Above fixes will help you to lower down the number of low quality content from your site, and now you need to work at the content level. This includes improving or getting rid of outdated, low quality, useless content. On page SEO does matter, but avoid spamming your content by any means possible. Write naturally and keep the formatting of your article right.
For example: Don’t use too many H2 or too many H3 tags in a post. Use proper headings when necessary. When I was auditing ShoutMeLoud old posts, I realized I have many content which have 1 H1 tag and 5 H3 tags, and most of these content are getting 0 search engine traffic. Article length do impact search engine ranking, and adding rich content like slides, videos further helps in improving the quality of your content.
Integrate known Google SEO ranking factors:
- Improve site loading time
- Less ads above fold.
- Your design should give good user experience.
- Include Google authorship.
- Hide dates from Google search
- Include social signals by integrating your website with Facebook, Google plus, YouTube, Twitter and other web.20 properties.
- Add Social bookmarking buttons to encourage users to share your article. Also promote old posts to improve the social signals.
These are few of many suggestions which I suggest now if your website is penalized by Google Panda algo. There are many more things to do to get completely out of Panda, but above steps will help you to get started. Do remember, by the end of the day it’s your blog readership which you need to create a successful website, and that will only happen when you are adding value for your readers. Here are few articles from ShoutMeLoud archive to help you learn further:
- Google Panda WordPress plugins to kick Panda back to jungle
- How to write content after Google Panda that everyone will love
- 5 proven ways for Google Panda optimisation
Do let me know what other factors you think lead to Panda penalty for a website? If you find this article useful, do consider sharing it on Google plus and Facebook.