Recovering from Google’s Panda updates, made simple

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A CEO of a company recently came to Brafton with some post-Panda woes, and after putting some content marketing strategies in place, we’ve seen the site’s traffic climb.

Many websites have been impacted by Google’s Panda updates since February – perhaps including the most recent 2.3 update. Others live in fear of the next updates. Webmasters across the country are looking for quick answers and quick fixes.

Those impacted may find themselves asking, “Who do these Google engineers think they are? They’re driving traffic away from my site as opposed to towards it, what kind of ‘search engine’ is this?” While many people might share your sentiments, this attitude isn’t going to help you recover traffic. Moreover, there may be quick answers but the best “fixes” involve investing in long-term content marketing solutions to improve visitors’ experiences of your site.

A CEO of a company recently came to Brafton with some post-Panda woes. As of February 26th, the site’s organic traffic from Google was cut by nearly 84 percent (and dropping).

It’s easy to blame Google for this site’s loss in revenues since February. “Why is Google targeting my website?” Well, it isn’t – Google is perfecting its search product. Google’s target audience is anyone who can figure out how to use the internet. If your site was Pandalized, there is something about your site that Google believes wouldn’t be useful to searchers.

After looking at this CEO’s site, there were a few issues that jumped out to me, all of which caused confusion or difficulty for me as a user:

  • The navigation consisted of identical drop downs which had similar anchor text all linking to different, but very similar, landing pages.
  • There were four to five ads on each content page.
  • Some articles were less than 200 words long. That being said, the ads took up well over 75 percent of these content pages.
  • There were a huge number of internal links, but an extremely low number of external links.

To rectify these issues, we first worked with the company on developing new landing pages. Now, each page covers a more specific, individual topic with unique content. Next, we worked on removing some of the ads. While many marketers may be resistant to taking down ads, industry analysts have agreed that ad to content ratio can be a problem for Panda.

Then, we set a content marketing plan that would focus on reader-friendly articles. Highly editorial content is not only good for readers, but Google has suggested that it’s necessary for modern SEO. You can keep the content somewhat keyword-heavy, as long as the keywords make sense in the context of the articles.

In the content strategy, we also made it a point to link to resources (including resources published on other online destinations). As Brafton has reported, some experts suspect that consumer engagement might play into post-Panda rankings, so it’s better to offer consumers information and send them resources than to send them back to search engines.

With these strategies in place, we’ve seen the site’s traffic climb back up to normal levels. We watched the traffic closely, seeing recovery around mid-July and traffic has continued to build steadily through the newest Panda 2.3 Update.

Now I’m not saying that these four issues are what always cause a site to be Pandalized, nor am I saying that if you make these exact changes your site will recover or be immune to updates.

What I am trying to say is that it’s worthwhile to have a second set of eyes take a look at your site; you look at it every day and a fresh eye could mean the difference. It’s good to get perspective on ways to increase the user experience, prove you’re an authoritative site and show that you only have the best intentions for your traffic. Thinking about the value of your content to site visitors is the simplest way to think about Panda recovery. If you make appropriate updates, you will probably fare better when it comes to Panda.

Want more tips on ways to survive (or recover from) Panda? Check out Brafton’s related blogs (Panda recovery part one and two) with expert insight from SMX Advanced on post-Panda SEO.

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Kevin ElliotKevin Elliot is a Senior Business Development Executive in our Video Marketing Division. He currently works with prospective clients to find the right mix of content to make sure they can exceed their specific goals. Kevin also spent over two years on Brafton's Account Management team in both our headquarters in Boston and our San Francisco office. He has managed over 300 clients at various times. Kevin specializes in SEO, video marketing, content marketing, integration and user experience.
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  • http://twitter.com/SEO_AGENTUR_AT SEO Agentur DYNAMIND

    thanks for your article, I share your point of view – absolutely, and that is what I’ve also thought about again and again: not matter if a backlink is  do-/ or nofollow, even nowfollow links generate traffic, more traffic leads to a better ranking ; ) regards, juergen from dynamind seo agency

  • Mircea Giurca

    What a load of Bullshit. He recovered to 4000% his original traffic? What a crap blog, consider yourself blocked from my Google results!

    • http://about.me/evanjacobs Evan Jacobs

      Not at all, look at the dates on the graphs. ——————————

    • http://about.me/evanjacobs Evan Jacobs

      Hello Mircea,

      We’re not exactly sure where you’re getting that 4000% number from. If you do the math, the original monthly average was about 88,760 and the new figure for one month is 72,700 and growing. So actually the amount is lower than it was before, but showing steady recovery.

      Was there something in the text that was unclear or didn’t make sense to you? We appreciate the feedback!

      Thank you,
      Evan Jacobs, Internet Marketing Manager

  • http://www.superblogga.com Missy Diaz

    What if an article is an affiliate product page article and since the Panda update, the external links leading to Amazon have been no followed. Does this leave Google to think there are no links on the page at all? Are you saying this is an issue? Should one add in external links to the page and not no follow them.

    Like for example let’s say I run a site on cool cases for the iPhone and two of the pages on my site are “Top 10 iPhone Cases for Men”, etc. with each case a link leading to Amazon – but I have them no followed. Should I add in a few extra links on the page that are not affiliate links?

    Let me know.

    Cheers!

  • joeldsouza

    no improvement for me… dropped yet again

    • http://about.me/evanjacobs Evan Jacobs

      What type of website do you run and what is your content mix?

      The most important piece of the puzzle is keeping the page content highly relevant and  as free of spammy keywords as possible. Also, Google takes bounce rate into account when assessing PageRank… so make sure if you’re driving any type of paid traffic to your pages that the destinations are relevant to the anchor text/ads.

      Hope that helps.