How To Recover from Google Panda Effect – Definite Guide

Google
Panda was one of the most controversial algorithm update from Google,
but with time it helped a lot to remove low-quality websites from search
engine and overall it improved the quality of search results. Though
for many webmasters, Google Panda updates are still a headache and at
unknowingly many good websites lost their search engine ranking due to
Panda penalty.  If you are one of those bloggers who lost their web site
traffic after latest Google panda algorithm update roll out,  Here I
will be sharing tested tips to recover from Google Panda.




Before we move ahead with panda recovery tips, I would like you to
know Google Panda is a domain level penalty. What I mean is, if earlier
you’ve had low-quality content, it was your content that was penalized,
but now if you have low-quality content, your complete domain will be
penalized. One of the simplest ways to get rid of Panda penalty is by getting rid of low-quality content.
I will do a separate post for identifying low-quality posts but here I
will give you a brief idea that will help you get started with the
recovery process.


We all know that Google rolled out the Google Panda algo globally,
and you might also have noticed many bloggers talking about a traffic
increase or significant traffic drop. We always talk about SEO optimization of blog posts and
since the Google Panda algorithm it’s become mandatory to do proper SEO
on the site level and content level. In this post I will be talking
about how to recover from Google Panda effect,
and what you can do to better optimize your blog for the Google search
engine, so that your blog will be bullet-proof from future Google Panda updates in
2015 and the coming years. Panda is just an algorithm iteration, and as
Matt Cutt, mentioned, now sites will also get penalized for over SEO optimization.
So, I would suggest avoiding any black hate SEO (If you are doing it),
and focus more on quality content and increasing your site’s social
media presence. In particular, Google+1 is going to be a holy grail for bloggers in the future.


Update: I have updated this article with new tips that I implemented on my websites and have seen good recovery over time. Here is a screenshot of the same.

Google panda recovery tips


Before I move ahead with Google Panda recovery tips, let me
tell you something about ShoutMeLoud traffic. ShoutMeLoud was affected
by the Google Panda algorithm, and the traffic drop was around 60%. I
have always taken care of SEO, but at the initial days of blogging, when
I was new to blogging, most of my content was short and of low quality.
We will look into a couple more factors that lead to Panda penalty for
this site and other sites in my network. One thing, in particular,
Google Panda taught me was  about the importance of keywords,
and why you need to have a target keyword in a post. Just for the info,
in this process I recovered the traffic but as I mentioned, recovery
was not 100%. Slowly it’s increasing, and by ranking for target keyword
now I’m getting more targeted visitors.


As I mentioned above, Google Panda is a domain level penalty, so even a couple of bad content/posts can affect your overall blog ranking. The very first step you need to do is figure out thin content
or content that doesn’t add much value. For example, in the initial
days of my blogging, I usually wrote posts with 30-50 words with one
image and a link. Something, which I can say doesn’t add much value to
readers. I guess, this is the same dilemma with others too.


Often I found out I had much low-quality contents, thereby, I had a
couple of choices: no-index them, delete them or update them with
detailed information to make it a quality content, so that it would be
helpful and useful to readers.


Anyways, before you find out more about recovering from the Google
Panda algorithm change, first understand what kind of website Google
Panda is going to affect.


  • A website with low quality (Thin content)
  • A website that works as content farm
  • A website with useless pages indexed in Google (Same as content farm)
  • A website with improper SEO structure
  • Duplicate content (On-site and off-site)
  • Too many advertisements
  • Poor grammar
  • Slow site loading time
  • SEO over-optimization (Black hat SEO)

One easy way to find out if your site traffic drop is the result
of Panda or something else is by analyzing traffic drop dates and
matching it with the Panda update dates here


Here are some of the most common reasons for Panda penalty:

  • Low-quality content: Too short, not well researched.
  • Poor grammar (Still working on it) Sigh!
  • Ad/content ratio
  • Too many broken links (404 links)
  • Less CTR from Search engines (Poor meta title, weak meta description)

There could be other factors, but these are something that
needed instant attention. Most of the broken links and redirects were
quickly fixed by the Broken link checker WordPress plugin.


Now before we move ahead, here are some factors you should know about Google panda:

  • It’s a domain level penalty.
  • A few low-quality posts can drop overall domain ranking.
  • Google trust quality sites.
  • Google Panda lowers down overall ranking of low-quality sites.
  • On-site SEO optimization becomes important.
  • The quality of a post is taken as a prime factor for ranking.
  • Niche based websites are better than generic sites.
So let me be honest. There is no way to get 100% of your
traffic back by keeping the same content, but with a good strategy you
can recover from Panda penalty and drive more traffic than what you had.


How to find out if the Google Panda algo affected your website?


This is the first thing that you should be doing as webmaster. The
recent Panda update was rolled out on 23rd September 2014, go to your
analytics and see the graphs for the date mentioned above and compare it
with last 10 days. If you see a significant drop or rise in traffic,
that means your website is getting the hiccups of the Google Panda
effect. You can also use this link to sign up for a free-trial account of SEMRUSH, and there you can see the increase or decrease in your keyword ranking. (See below screenshot)


ShoutMeLoud traffic graph Panda

So if you are one of those who are seeing an increase in traffic,
it’s time to take a break! Grab a coffee or have gala time with your
friends. But if you are one of those who were affected by the Panda
effect, I suggest reading this post seriously, as you need to work
really hard to recover from Panda effect.


Steps to recover from Google Panda updates:


Write quality content:


I’m sure you’re tired of being told “Write quality content and
traffic will follow you”. When I say write quality content, it means
write a complete post along with targeted keywords. Your post should be
optimized for certain keywords and should not be just a random post. A
quality post written without any targeted keywords is a useless post.
You might get praise and lots of appreciation, but people won’t be able
to find it in the search engine after some time.


Google takes quality and length very seriously and there are certain
things which you should keep in mind including the word count of your
blog post. For example, a post like “How to recover from Google Panda”
can be written in 5 simple steps, or could be written in detailed how-to
guide like this. Now, we know which one a reader would prefer, but
what about a search engine? When you write a detailed article, you cover
more keywords and especially you add more information into your post.
According to an SEO debunked study, articles with longer length ranks
fairly well. I have even tested and verified this after I optimized many
old blog posts.


LSI words:

Here is food of thought: How do you think a search engine rank a
content? Search engines uses algorithms to decide post ranking. How do
you think a search engine will give you exact results for your search
query? Here is where LSI words comes into picture, which helps search
engines to understand exact categories for your article. Along with
that, you use bold, italics, Keyword in H1, H2 and H3 tag to make your
content more search engine targeted. You should maintain a certain ratio
for Keywords density. I know it all sounds hard but look at the screenshot below.


Panda recovered Blog


I use a Premium plugin call SEOPressor to
optimize my blog posts. To avoid over optimization, I usually keep the
optimization ratio around 70%, and it’s working great for me. Here is
the search engine position of one of the post after using this plugin:



There are many other similar SEO plugin like this available:  Prefer
using a plugin that gives you on-page SEO score and keyword density
score. This will certainly help in long run.


Remove unnecessary pages/posts from Google search:


Useless-indexed-pages-Google

The very first step is to see what all pages or  posts are part of
Google, search from your domain. In the past, it was good to have more
indexed pages but now it’s important to have only important pages and
posts. Useless posts or pages just becomes a part of search engine and
doesn’t add values.


Especially if you have your tags indexed in Google, you might like to
no index it, as Tags and categories doesn’t help search engine much.
Imagine you used 6 tags within a post and have written 100 posts. 100*6
=600 tags (Assumption) and now your tags are indexed in Google, imagine
600 low-quality pages being a part of search engine, which will make
your blog look like content farm or at least website with low-quality
content. Same goes with contact pages, disclaimer, privacy policy,
newsletter page, which doesn’t add much value to the search engine. You
might like to use noindex tag for such links. You can search all indexed
pages for your domain by typing Site:Yourdomain name.com in Google.com.


Don’t forget to go to the last page and click on show omitted
results. As Google put possible duplicate and low quality content from
any domain under 2nd tier results.


You can use plugin like Meta robots WordPress SEO Plugin
to make your category/tags/date archive pages as noindex. Another tip
which you should keep in mind: Always keep your internal links as
Dofollow. Google suggests you to use noindex tag when you don’t want
bots to index any page/post and Robots.txt to stop crawling admin and private part of a website.

site-search-google
You can do a quick search in Google with “Site:domain.com” to find
out what all pages are indexed in Google from your domain. Replace
domain.com with real domain name.


If your blog wp-content and wp-admin links are indexed in Google,
simply use Google Webmaster URL removal tool and get rid of the complete
directory. Make sure to add those directories into your Robots.txt
file.


Remove Low quality content:


Now in the past you might have written posts which are not well
written, very short or may be not targeted. Google is taking low quality
content very seriously and therefore you should start working on your
old low quality posts and convert them into high quality article. At
least work on SEO details and length of the article. This will also help
you in internal linking
of your old posts with new one. Personally every day, I spend 1-2 hour
to work on old posts and make them better. Even if you are not hit by
Panda effect, you should do it to make your blog look better and give
more quality to your readers.


Now the most common question would be what is low quality content.
There is no 100% guide for low quality content, but here are some
guidelines for the same:


  • Is it useful for readers?
  • Is it well researched?
  • Is content comes from a trustable source?
  • How likely customer is willing to give credit card details?

And many more other factors. But for now, here are my brief guide to find low quality content on your site:

  • In Google analytic, find all posts which got <10 visits in 2
    months time. Now analyze content of the post and see if it’s useful
    and relevant.  Depending upon the post, you can update or delete or
    noindex it.
  • Find all articles with no Google traffic & optimize it.
  • Find all posts that are giving bounce rate higher than 85%. Work on them to lower down bounce rate. You can use these techniques to improve the bounce rate.
  • Install Admin word count WordPress plugin and analyze traffic of
    posts with word count <250. Take appropriate action depending upon
    the post.
Duplicate content:


Google takes duplicate content seriously even if it’s on your domain
or cross posted on other site. Too many duplicate content will affect
your search engine presence for sure. Work on each and every detail  of
your site structure and SEO and make sure you are not serving any
duplicate content. As I mentioned above, Google takes plagiarism
seriously but the algo is not mature to really figure out difference
between original and copied content, you need to work manually to fight
against plagiarism. Also make sure you are using URL canonicalization.


Though Google claims that their new Content farm algo is perfect to
fight against Auto RSS content generation blog but to be honest I really
doubt it. Specially for CallingAllgeeks, , I have seen many auto blogs
are copying content but they are ranking better than original article
itself. More over because of this, many posts are getting deindexed from
web search. The only solution to this is a fight against plagiarism.


You should taking plagiarism seriously and as soon as you see any website copying your content, you can report it to Google team.
Initially I used to ignore such blogs which used to copy content, but
these days I actively report them to Google and so far in last 15 days, I
have put request to remove 50+ such pages from Google index and from
BlogSpot. So far 75% of my request has been successfully reviewed and
copied URL’s are removed from Google. You should straight away file a DMCA notice or
ask the webmaster to remove the content instantly. Missing this point
will create post duplication issue, and more over you might see other
site is stealing your hard work and traffic.


Bonus tip: When you find out all your low quality content, find all copied posts using these online Anti plagiarism tools and report it to Google. I have seen many of such posts started getting traffic, once all copied content are removed.

Learn SEO:


If you are into professional blogging  or planning to take blogging
as career, you should learn SEO first. Without SEO, your future will
remain unpredictable, as one major algo change can take away everything
from you. Once you know basics of SEO, you can be ready for any algo
changes and tweak your website to meet new changes. Here are few things
which you should start with:


SEO friendly WordPress Theme:


I have started my blogging career with free WordPress themes but with
time I realized premium WordPress themes are way better than free
WordPress theme. If you are using a free WordPress theme, you should
check your theme for proper heading tags and if this theme is SEO
friendly or not. Or else, make your life simpler and use Genesis theme.
Especially, if you are not much of SEO guy, you can install these theme
and make your blog more SEO friendly. Make sure you put noindex
attributes for tabs, categories and all useless pages using Thesis
options panel or Genesis option panel. If you still can’t afford premium
themes, I would suggest you to start using plugins like Robots meta to
add noindex to all useless pages of your blog.


Social media promotion:


Alright, this is something which I’m sure many of you must be missing
and believe me social media promotion really helps. Eespecially Google+
votes, Facebook likes, Twitter and Delicious worked for me great time
to boost my ranking. Though Twitter helps in faster indexing and that’s
it.


You can always start with social media promotion by creating own
group on Facebook or on IM. Else, you can hire any 3rd party sites which
offer such services. I have optimized my old posts for specific Keyword
and then promoting them into these social media sites. I can see huge
ranking improvement and you can try the same for any of your blog post
too.


External links:


If you are one of those who are selling paid links or doing paid
reviews about anything, you should stop doing it. Linking to bad
neighbourhood will significantly make difference in your search engine
ranking. If for any reason you need to link to any bad site, use
nofollow attributes. Same goes for an affiliate URL. Though Google
doesn’t give much weight to nofollow attributes, but it does make a
difference. It’s a myth that too many external links will affect your
ranking, if you are linking to legit and useful content it’s ranking
will not go down or will not be affected. So you have to take an extra
precaution when you are linking to other sites, especially if you are
running a multi-author blog, you should make sure that link or guest
post is coming from bloggers in the similar or relevant niche.


MFA or Affiliate blog:


If you run a money-making online blog, you’re probably  using lots of
ads and affiliate links. Top contributors on a Webmaster forum have
said that too many ads on a page give  out a signal of a low quality
website. Also if you run a blog for affiliate marketing with less
original content, you are more likely to be affected by this algorithm.
You should try to use fewer ads on a page, and eespecially no ads in
between a post. Also for affiliate links, strictly use nofollow links.


How to put reconsideration request after SEO change?




So you got affected by Google panda and your traffic dropped. I hope
by now, you have made the changes on your blog, now to make it more
search engine friendly get rid of low quality pages. Once you are done
with all the essential changes, it’s time to login to webmaster tool and
put a reconsideration request. Though it takes time but it’s the best
thing which you can do now. Here is the link to
reconsideration page of Google. Though, in most of the cases you will
get a reply from Google saying your site is not penalized and there is
no penalty, as new Panda algorithm is not a penalty but a new way to
rank website in search engine.


Bonus tip: 

If in search meta description your date is showing, chances are high
you will get very low CTR for old ever green post. I have removed post
date from 2 of my websites and I could see improved CTR. More over, one
of tech blog which was badly hurt recovered really fast after date
removal from search snippets. Also if you are running a review site,
like a gadget review, make sure to install GD star rating plugin and
enable star rating. This will again help in improved CTR from Google
search. Needless, to mention Google authorship, which is going to make
everything very social.


NutShell:

Following changes worked for me to recover from Google panda effect:

  • Removed data from search engine snippets
  • Removed all Broken links
  • Removed un-necessary pages from search (Noindex or 404)
  • Keyword optimization for all old posts (Improved the quality with updated info)
  • Social media promotion after Keyword optimization (Google+, Delicious, Digg)
  • Removed duplicate content
  • URL Canonicalization ( replytocom, feedburner links)
Apart from all the above, I have also taken care of more SEO optimization on-site and backlink
building. Moreover, my backlink building was more targeted for internal
pages instead of just homepage. I’m not sure if ads actually helps to
lower down panda effect because I have seen many site with above average
ad/content ratio ranking fairly well. Keyword targeting is must and
highly recommended post panda.
 


Thoughts about Panda:


If you have read the Matt’s interview regarding farmer algorithm,
you must have noticed his statement in which he said “Google’s most
recent algorithm contains signals that can be gamed”. In simple words,
this means you can optimize your site to take full advantage of the
Google Panda algorithm.


One thing that everyone should remember is that Google doesn’t update
site manually. It’s only a set of algorithms which follow certain
rules. If you are following guidelines, there is no way that your site
will be affected by any algorithm change. It is now becoming an
essential for every blogger to know SEO basics.


If you were affected by the Panda algorithm and are trying to
recover, follow all the above steps. It might take some time before
Google will re-crawl and re-index your website, but once it does, you
might get lucky and get back your lost traffic.


Let us know if you were a victim of Google panda? What recovery
measures are you taking to recover from Google Panda? Don’t forget to
subscribe to our free Email updates.

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