There have been many updates to the Google
search algorithm and every now and then webmasters find
themselves in the situation where they need to make major changes to
their SEO strategy in order to stay afloat. Some of the changes have
a really considerable impact and the recent Panda update is one of
those cases when you just can't pretend the changes don't affect you.
What Is Panda
Panda isn't just another update to the search algorithm, many of
which we have seen over the years. One of the special things about
Panda is that it uses human reviewers to rate sites. No, not all
sites are rated by humans but there is a sample of sites where human
reviewers make the evaluation and after a pattern in reviewing is
noticed, the job is continued by machines, which presumably use the
same criteria as humans. So, if you have made the mistake to optimize
your site only for bots, now you will be hit right between the eyes.
Panda is aimed at improving the quality of search results by
removing low quality, spammy entries from the first positions. The
first victims were the so called content mills but the later updates
hit many other types of sites as well. What these sites had in common
was that they had tons of useless content that was artificially
pushed to the top results pages. Many sites who are (or considered
themselves) no content mills were hit pretty hard because they
exhibited similarities to content farms and if you don't want to be
the next victim, or if you have already been hit yourself and wonder
how to get back on your feet, here are some tips to help you.
How to Counteract Panda
Any step in the direction of removing low quality content will
help you deal with Panda but here are some steps that are especially
1 No Multiple Pages with the Same Keyword
The reason why content mills were slapped the hardest by Panda is
that they had many (in some cases in the thousands!) pages with the
same keyword. When you have multiple authors and you give them the
freedom to choose what to write about, you will obviously end with
multiple pages that use the same lucrative keywords. But it isn't
only the content mills where you can find 100s of pages with the “how
to get an ex back”, 1,000s about “acai berry”, etc. If your
site has multiple pages that target the same keyword, get rid of them
immediately because this is simply drowning you.
2 Duplicate Anchor Text and Links from Article
Directories/Low Quality Sites
are very important but as you know it is quality backlinks that
matter. This is why Panda penalized sites with tons of backlinks from
article directories or other content sites because these sites are
deemed low quality. Additionally, when the anchor text of your
backlinks is always the same (and it has a keyword in it), this is
more than suspicious that this link hasn't been created naturally.
This is why it is best if you use multiple variations of your
keywords (or even better ‐ multiple keywords) as the anchor text of
backlinks. For instance, if your keyword is “how to get an ex
back”, you can also use “how to reunite with ex”, “how to
reconcile with an ex lover”, etc.
3 Clean Your WHOLE Site
Panda is a site-wide penalty and as a
result, even if you have some really outstanding pages but you also
have lots of so-so ones, your whole site will suffer. The only
solution here is to fix or remove the low quality ones and wait for
4 Get Rid of Autogenerated Content and
Roundup/Comparison Type of Pages
Autogenerated pages have nothing to do with quality and this is
why they are especially unpopular now. Roundups/comparison types of
pages can also hurt you because these don't have much original
content in them. These factors are the reason why so many shopping
sites where these comparison pages are so numerous are hit by Panda.
If you run a shopping site, your task isn't easy because you can't
get rid of these completely but if you add original content to them,
this increases your chances to get your rankings back.
5 No Pages with 1-2 Paragraphs of Text Only
Since these pages are easier to create, many webmasters started
populating their sites with such short pages in order to increase the
number of pages of the site. Now the rules have changed and these
pages with 1-2 paragraphs of text can damage your rankings. Add more
text or remove the pages ‐ these are the two options you have.
6 Panda Likes New Content
News and recent stuff have always been loved by search engines but
with Panda this is even more important. This includes news but also
recently updated pages. In fact, about 35% of searches will be
affected because preference will be given to current pages. Well,
this is hardly a reason to turn your site into a news machine but if
you try to update your content as frequently as you can, this will
7 No Scraped Content
With Panda, scraped content is (almost) as bad as duplicate
content. If you are using spun articles, this can seriously hurt you.
While with article sites you have more freedom in rewording your
content, with descriptions on shopping sites it is trickier because
if you have to stay factual, there aren't unlimited ways to reword a
short 100-200 word description. Still, try to make your descriptions
as original as possible.
8 Be Careful with Affiliate Links and Ads
Tons of outbound links is bad but tons of affiliate links on a
page is even worse - too many of them on a page and you will be
Pandalized. This is why you need to cut the number of affiliate links
on a page. For a better effect, you can also make them nofollow, if
possible. The number of ads on a page also plays role with Panda and
the rule is: the fewer, the better. Keep only the highest profitable
ads (i.e. the ones that are really making
you money and let the rest go.
9 Minimize Duplicate Template Content
Duplicate content applies not only to posts but to everything on a
page. If you are using the same template for all your pages, chances
are you have lots of duplicate template content ‐ i.e. the same
blocks of text (and links) you reuse on each page. Inspect these
blocks that repeat on every page and keep only the most important
10 Too Many Outbound Links with Keywords
Too many outbound links are bad but when they are with keywords as
anchor text, this is even worse. The assumption is that these links
are the result of a link exchange ‐ i.e. they aren't natural. This
can be a huge problem if you accept guest posts because authors
typically include keywords in their links and their byline. Try to
keep the anchor text of your outbound links diverse and limit keyword
stuffed anchors as much as you can.
11 Poor Internal Linking Structure
Humans and bots like a clean navigation structure. Now with Panda
this gains even more weight. Therefore, check your internal links and
streamline your navigation ‐ this will help for sure.
The Panda update caused quite a lot of stir. For the sites that
were hit the changes were everything but welcome but since there is
so much search spam, it was bound to happen. If you don't want to be
on the receiving end, clean your site and make it Panda-compliant.
This is the only way (back) to top search results.