Fighting Pandas – Trying to get a site out of the grasp of Google’s Panda
There is nothing cutting edge about this post, but it may be useful to others who have been penalised by the Google Panda updates and feel like they are banging their heads against a brick wall. I have not gone into linking methods, mainly just on improving the sites themselves.
I’ve been hit by Panda three times Panda 2.0 (April 11th), Pandas 2.2 (June 16th) and 2.5.2 (October 14th); all of my content is unique, though some is short (thin).
I feel that the 2.5.2 update is the hardest for me to understand as it has sent a lot of very bad sites (not being envious here, I do mean bad sites; broken links, scraped) and content farms (Hubpages especially) to the top of the sites. I am sort of hoping that they have made a mess of the 2.5.2 and it will be altered back some way and are therefore continuing with the steps that I was taking after 2.2, which seemed to have recovered a lot of my traffic until recently; I’m probably clutching at straws, but it is really hard to know what google wants anymore.
Maybe their aim is to have it that SMEs need to advertise to get seen in the SERPS? It sure as hell ain’t to get rid of content farms as eHow, Livestrong, Hubpages etc. seem to be back with a vengeance.
Perhaps the saddest side-effect of the Panda updates will be to force the smaller players into trying out spammier methods in order to maintain a living; this is not a good thing for the web, but I know that many people are now considering different methods in order to stop from going under.
Anyway on with a few things I was doing to get out of Panda, and which showed improvement until the last update; some of these are specific to my sites which are quite old.
1. Move site to a new server; give it an independent IP address. I was previously with bluehost, this had the disadvantage of most of my sites being on the same IP address, but worst still with a popular firm such as Bluehost, it was also shared with a 1000 other sites that I had no control over and could have been on any subject imaginable.
2. Go over the site (+1500 pages) and identify problems, ideally start with your thinner pages, but in my case realize that there were a lot of problems (site started in 2005, the search game has changed a lot since then) so I needed to go through things systematically.
3. Add Images to every page.
4. Add video too. Google loves youtube (wonder why).
5. Do a spell check (makes things more professional/trustworthy both in Google’s and your visitor’s eyes).
6. Fire up dragon naturally speaking or Word, add a few hundred words of fresh content, keep on topic and fairly high quality, try to make all of those articles 600 words +
7. As above but write even higher quality, longer, linkable articles. I try to do this for most pages, but for a site of over 1000 pages , it is a bit of a waste of time on some of the articles that are unlikely to get many visitors anyway (step 6 will suffice).
8. On page SEO, tidy this up, (remove any KW stuffing or similar SEO from years ago), look to improve the Title, Headings etc
9. Remove Links. I had lots of links to my other sites, now gone.
10. Add Links. Do a search using site:.edu, site:.ac.uk, site:.bbc.co.uk on terms related to the page, add a references and further reading with a few good sites as references.
11. Remove/add links: Internal, concentrate links towards the money pages, use better anchor text, link to related topics only.
12. Go through your Google analytics or use Hitail , for each page identify any long-tail KW opportunities, write these into your page text, but only if you can do it in a none spammy way that is useful to the end-user.
13. Reduce number of advertisements.
14. Now your pages should be looking sleeker, longer, and hopefully read better, fire up the website analyzer and take a look at the readability scores, these will be high if scientific, technological based, but can you make the page just a little bit more readable?
16. Take a look at your site and see how related the content is to other internal pages; in my case I am considering splitting the site up into two. By keeping the sites more focused I am hoping that my main site will not be seen as a content farm (it isn’t, but can an algorithm see that is the case).
17. My site is fairly old, uses a lot of tables, the htm code seems to have become ugly over the years: time to update to HTML 5 (as with point 16 this is a time consuming job, but it is in process).
Well those are the main things that I am doing to improve my sites, as you can imagine these are very time consuming, and I thought that I was going in the right direction until Panda 2.5.2 minor update (I think they used the term minor as it mainly hit the sites that were not major).
So a few things on my mind post Panda 2.5.2.
1. Analytics/Websitetools. Google makes great tools but it knows everything about you. I have installed GetClicky for a trial run.
2. Removal of affiliate advertisements. Google openly claim they are after affiliates, and on the recently leaked Google reviews paper they use a CJ link as an example of someone who is using a sneaky redirect! How they can signal one of the major players in the internet advertising business as being a sign of spam is beyond me, but they do. I have therefore decided to remove all the CJ and similar redirect links (clickbank) from my main site to see if it has an effect.
I hope that you find my approach to improving my sites to fight off the Panda updates useful, I thought that I was taking the right steps until 2.5.2, but I guess that only time will tell.