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The Google Panda Update And How To Recover

Google Panda Update

Days ago, Google rolled out a new version of its latest algorithm update, the panda. The Google Panda update was actually named after one of Google’s engineers. Anyway, it was just announced that Google rolled out a “minor” update labled panda 2.5.2.

Panda Matt Cutts update tweet

Matt’s other tweet said:

Weather report: expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks, but will have less impact than previous updates (~2%).

Judging from what others have been saying, this update isn’t “minor” at all. Hundreds upon hundreds of bloggers, marketers, business owners and large companies have been screaming. There have already been thousands of complaints about Google Panda coming from webmasters who’ve been “unfairly” hit. The thing that amazes me is sites that have followed Google’s rules since the very beginning are getting randomly hit.

I was reading about a company’s site that got on average 20,000,000 monthly visitors before the panda update. After, it’s gone right down to 4 million… Jobs are being lost and companies going under. It’s quite ridiculous when they’ve done nothing wrong and have complete white hat link profiles. Anyway, checkout these shocking complaints:

My pandalized site got hit even worse with the minor update since the changes I made after the last one have not had time to fully filter through google results yet.

I noticed that my competitor had a slight recovery last night, I did not know it was because of this minor update then though.

Same here. was hit on sept27th, recovered fully on october 4th, had a spike of traffic on october 13th and was hit around 11m uk time on the 14th. 80% drop. Thanks google.

This is ridiculous.

There are literally thousands of complaints I could show you, but here are just a couple more:

My 3-year-old site is about sharing the adventure of the renovation of my little house, with emphasis on energy efficiency and downsizing. Traffic has been growing steadily, thanks to all the original content, lots and lots of original photos, how-to’s, interesting stories of the successes and failures. This is an ongoing project; as recently as last Thursday, I uploaded a page with some “Before and After” photos and descriptions.

I have followed all the rules over the years, yet on the morning of October 14 I woke up to an unexplainable 60% drop in traffic. I’ve heard that Google has been adjusting its algorithm or something. I don’t understand how that works but I know that I have not done anything to deserve this huge loss (which of course is translated into a corresponding loss of income from my site).

I would like to hear FROM GOOGLE why my site was singled out for this disaster and what I can do to regain my traffic and my confidence in Google.

Oct. 14, 2011 – mid day, notice huge drop in traffic, a visitor here and there from google maybe every 2 or 3 minutes. Site is over 8 years old, no major changes have been done. Survived many Panda updates/tweeks prior to today, not sure what happened or how to go about fixing it. Any suggestions are welcome.

My site is about 13 months old. I have had increasing traffic until Oct. 14, when my traffic declined 67% overnight. I have put in hundreds of hours creating original, very informative, content to help my readers and I add about 4 pages per month. Is there something I have done to get this amount of loss in traffic?

To me, it sounds like more than a minor update. Even people I know and a couple of sites I own, they’ve all been damaged by the latest Google panda update. Originally the panda update was supposed to get rid of scraper sites full or duplicate content and improve the quality of search results.

From where I’m standing it doesn’t look like Google’s done a good job. Scraper sites are outranking the sites they stole content from, several of my site’s traffic has plummeted and Google seems to be penalizing little sites for stupid reasons. If you have been hit or would like to reinforce your site to make sure you’re not a target of any future algorithm updates, here are some tips:

  1. Get rid of duplicate content – If you have lots of duplicate content on your site – get rid of it all!
  2. Get rid of duplicate content off page – Other sites stealing your content can greatly damage your overall site’s rankings. You should run your site’s pages and posts through copyscape to see who else is using your content. Contact the sites stealing your content and have them remove it at once.
  3. Improve internal linking structure.
  4. Take down/add to any thin pages on your site. Thin pages can have a negative impact on your entire site’s rankings.
  5. Decrease Bounce Rate.
  6. Decrease Load Time.
  7. Work on: Increasing Avg. time spent on site and Avg. page views per visitor.
  8. Fix crawl errors – Use Google Webmaster Tools.
  9. Increase user engagement – Encourage visitors to leave comments, bookmark, visit other pages and return to your site.
  10. Get social – Setup a fan page, dedicated Twitter account and more. (Make sure you syndicate your site’s content/blog posts on them as soon as published)
  11. Post regular content – Lots of content is vital right now, panda wants active sites pumping out fresh content.
  12. Use social media icons – Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus One buttons.

Besides that, you need to focus on getting high quality backlinks from trusted sources. Link building isn’t dead, despite what some “Panda experts” are saying. Link building is becoming less and less “king” though. SEO’s are beginning to call themselves Website Strategists because on-site factors are becoming increasingly more important. It makes sense really.

If Google can use on-site factors to figure out what content is best and most popular, why wouldn’t they? It beats relying on the same old link building factor that gets so easily abused. Saying that, links will always be the dominant factor (probably)… Google will just get a lot better at identifying artificial links.

In Prosperity,

David Wood

P.S. Give me your thoughts, comments and questions in the box below.

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14 comments
John
John

I have seen websites whose referral traffic from google.com had decreased more than 95% after the Panda update.Seems like we have to be always prepared for the surprises from google. thanks John

Larry
Larry

Both sites took a 50% traffic drop hit on Oct 14. And, Adsense revenue dropped 50%. Still that 3 weeks later. My sites have been on a slow server, and I've complained to my ISP. I wonder how much that had an affect. I do have duplicate content on all pages: my book cover image, social sharing buttons, and similar types of image content; I wonder how that affected everything. I talked with someone who has a site similar to mine content wise, and her site went up 40% in traffic. So, just trying to track down what I can do to fix it. Thank you for your insights.

Prashanth
Prashanth

My 11 month old site badly affected by Google Panda update on 14 Oct. I checked Google Webmaster tool and found that all my previous back links where disappeared. I have migrated from Blogger (though using custom Domain) to WP on last August. The main reason behind the Panda hit is the duplicate content. After the migration I left with two sites. One on blogspot and the other WP. Some how I lost the redirection on blogspot which was working fine earlier. Obviously farmer update caught me red handed for the duplicate content. I could not reinstate the redirection. But I made one thing. Just blocked search bots reaching my blogspot blog and waiting for the next Panda update.

Mark
Mark

I am one of those who can't figure out why I've been hit. I've lost 90% of my traffic but can't see why. I've worked through the recovery tips but to no avail.

ikenna Odinaka
ikenna Odinaka

Most times I just prefer to keep doing my thing on my blog and ignore to whole reoptimization thing. My blog lost 60% google traffic. It did have a serious effect on my over all earning but I'll keep posting unique and regular contents. If the panda decides to change it's mind, fine and well. If not I'll just keep engaging my thousands of email subscribers while they gradually invite their friends. Thanks to social media. Life goes on.

Aki Wood
Aki Wood

...holy hell, all this technical mumbo jumbo is annoying. Everyone working for google should be beat with sticks... especially the "panda", even though I am highly against animal cruelty. -Aki

Tom Shivers
Tom Shivers

Wow David, lots of friends and followers... I'm not sure what you are known for but I bet it's not SEO :) Google runs Panda once every so often to clean up the results and re-rank search results. It's not part of the algorithm, which G engineers work on and update regularly, Panda is separate from the algo and is based on human interaction. Although I agree with many of your recommendations to deal with Panda, I disagree with #1, #2, (glad you changed #6).

Niamh
Niamh

Scary Stuff Dave! Small question, you said Increase load time?? I'm just wondering should that be decrease? And if we're spinning articles that are only 30% unique does that count against us as duplicate content?? Really hope not!!

davidmwood
davidmwood

Yeah, that really sucks. First of all, if you've 90% of all of your traffic you are relying on the search engines way too much. The biggest sites and large companies online all work towards an even balance. Between referral, search engine, social media and direct. Try and focus on the other 3. Referral traffic can come from blog commenting, guest blogging, article marketing, bookmarking, web2.0 marketing and lots more. Social media - get your content shared all over the place. Direct - encourage people to tell their friends about your blog/site somehow. Come up with a viral aspect and also encourage repeat visitors.

davidmwood
davidmwood

Ouch, losing that much of your traffic is painful. I would just tell you to follow the tips and see if you're doing anything wrong. If you've lost that much traffic, you absolutely should try and diagnose the problem. As probably, there is one. Or you could be one of the unlucky guys who've been unfairly hit. In that case you can tell Google about it on the forum, that's what they say.

davidmwood
davidmwood

Hi Tom, thanks for the comment. But I think you misunderstood something. First - obviously we all know panda is not a ranking factor which I think you thought I thought. (If I in any way implied that, apologies... I will have to go through the article and fix it). I know what the facts are and I also have my own opinion as do others. Since you know about SEO, I'm guessing you've heard of the mammoth Search Engine Land. Read this: Why Google Panda Is More A Ranking Factor Than Algorithm Update http://searchengineland.com/why-google-panda-is-more-a-ranking-factor-than-algorithm-update-82564 Still - It's an update, and yes I know what it is based on. I am giving overall SEO advice to recover from panda and in general. 1 & 2... Lots of duplicate content on-site is bad - ask any expert. Ask Matt Cutts. Go read SEOmoz... I was just checking out their panda recovery tips and guess what? They said you should get rid of any duplicate content you have on-page. Sure - it's only if you have A LOT of dupe content. Anyway, dupe content isn't what I wanted to address or base this article on due to the fact that Panda is all about user interaction and on-site activity. I know they "run" panda every now and then 2.5.2 being the latest. I'm very well informed on the subject - thanks and I hope I cleared things up. P.S. I always have people challenge my due diligence on controversial subjects like this. :) P.P.S. #6 was just a stupid mistake - You'll realise that when you click through to my old post it links to which is in fact titled "5 Steps To Dramatically Speed Up WordPress".

davidmwood
davidmwood

Oops, you caught me out there. Changed now, my mistake. To be honest these updates happen every year, but panda was pretty major. If you're spinning articles and putting them on your own site, that can damage you. Stealing other people's content, spinning it and submitting it all over the web can also damage you. Getting unique content, spinning it and submitting it linking to your blog posts will keep you safe. As long as its all "adding to the web" meaning readable and somewhat unique, you'll get the backlink and be ok. I would go for higher than 30%, they've been saying that for years and Google just keeping getting better at identifying dupe content. Take one of your backlinks with spun content on, run it through copyscape and you'll see whether it counts as dupe content.

Niamh
Niamh

Thanks for the advice! Yeah I've been doing ALL unique content on my blog and then spinning at around 30% (used to be more, but I guess I was trying to speed up the process!) My blog traffic has only increased since October 14th!! Maybe the update took out some competition. I'm definitely going to spin to a higher uniqueness cause as you said, I'm sure that even if it works for now the next Google update could be killing blogs with ANY dup content. Thanks for all you do! I'm now ranking front page of Google for really competitive keywords using JUST your advice!! Niamh

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