Caught By Google Panda Algo? Some Tips On How To Escape The Panda Claws

Posted on March 10, 2011 
Filed Under SEO

You can read about the Google Panda / Farmer algorithm change now almost every day on various SEO blogs and forums.

The problem with all that information is that it’s all speculation. Google wouldn’t really tell what’s going on.

But now they have shared more details and I’ll try to read between the lines and see what they are really saying.

SearchEngineLand posted a summary of Google’s advice so let’s see if we can decipher that advice…

1. “Substantial low quality on a site can cause the rankings for the entire site to decline (even for the high quality pages). Evaluate your web site for poor quality pages (not useful, poorly written, non-unique, or thin) and remove them.”

How does Google measure these things? Keep in mind that although the advice is somewhat vague for a person, it MUST be exactly mathematically defined – since Google is a computer algorithm and not a human.

Here’s my interpretation of these hints:

a) Not useful – if the content is not useful, the person will soon recognize that. They’ll read just a few lines and realize that the content sucks. They’ll hit the Back button or close that tab. Google measures that with Bounce rate and time spent on each page.

b) Poorly written – incorrect English, grammar and syntax errors. Make sure your content passes spell checks. I am sure Google can tell if your grammar is good too – if not now then soon.

c) Non-unique – That’s an easy one – checking your content for duplication. Don’t copy anything.

d) ThinNot enough words. How much does Google want? I am not sure but I’d aim in most cases at around 1000 words and more to be safe in the long term.

2. “Look at both content and page templates (do the templates overwhelm the pages with ads? Provide a poor user interface?) After ensuring all content on the site is high quality, focus on engagement and awareness (through social media and other channels).”

a) “Do the templates overwhelm the pages with ads?” – How easy it is for Google to count the number of their own ads on a page? Do you think they can recognize ads from Chitika, Amazon affiliate link, CJ affiliate links and other advertisements? ;)

Sure, they can. So what is your ratio between content and ads? 600 words and 10 ads & links? That won’t work. I am not sure what is the right ratio but I’d probably aim for 1 ad or aff. link for every 300 words to be safe in the long term.

(Yes, the Adsense team keep telling you to place more ads on your sites but it seems that they are sitting in a different office. I’d ignore their recommendations and keep the number of ads low – especially above the fold.)

b) “Focus on engagement and awareness”. – Engagement is in my opinion measured by comments and user generated content and awareness is measured by Facebook Likes and Tweets and other signals from Social Media sites.

Action Steps To Escape The Google Panda Claws

1. Remove or rewrite short pages. If there are many of them, remove them so that they don’t hurt your site and in time you’ll build them again with better content.

2. Check your syntax and grammar and fix mistakes.

3. Check your pages for duplicate content – just test a few sentences in quotes in Google and see what comes up. If there are hundreds copies of your sentences all over the web, then perhaps it’s better to rewrite them than to pursue bad guys with legal action.

4. Improve the template of your site if needed and show the visitors (and Google) that your site has a lot to offer and that it’s present on Facebook, Twitter and possibly even Youtube.

I think these 4 action steps are the 80/20 of things you can do right now to get your site back.

I also think that you need to be patient and let this unfold. It might take a while (3-12 months maybe) but if Google is successful in eliminating crappy sites, the bad guys eventually won’t put them up any more.

That means less duplicate content taken from your site and less scrapers. Take your online business seriously and consider it a fresh start.

Sure, it might have been easy now that you already had a website and things were so passive – but this Google thing is a great wake up call to take your business to a new level.

These things can break you or make you.

In most cases, the bad guys will quit since they don’t ever want to work hard. And that’s your chance.

It’s very likely that a year from now you’ll look back on this and see that it caused you to raise your level of work and commitment. And the results will follow…

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Comments

7 Responses to “Caught By Google Panda Algo? Some Tips On How To Escape The Panda Claws”

  1. Scott W on March 10th, 2011 10:12 am

    User-generated content…In spite of the “get creative” exhortations to use SBI C2, I’m now being cautious. Travel experiences, passionate sports experiences…those work. Short testimonials, question-and-answer…those can generate short responses that are not always valuable to other users.

    I think you have to be very careful about starting down the user-generated-content road. Where might you end up if it takes off? What do the initial submissions look like? If I arrived on this site for the first time, would I really want to read what this person is saying? Or it is just gravy that is pumping up the page count at the expense of the meat?

    [Reply]

  2. alam on March 10th, 2011 11:51 am

    I believe with picture and video but it will make the content “thin”. I’ll do my best to make useful post as you do and enjoy writing and see the result :-).
    By the way thanks for the action steps.

    [Reply]

  3. David on March 10th, 2011 11:51 am

    Tomaz,

    You are so correct when you say ‘speculation’. That is what us webmasters have been doing for the past two weeks – trying to guess exactly how and why the Panda update affects websites.

    To me, it doesn’t make any sense – one of my sites is down about 15% and another one is up 25%, the others – unchanged.

    Aside from their very vague guidelines, Google will not tell anyone exactly what they consider “high quality content”.

    So its up to us to try to guess:

    1. What is ‘wrong’ with our website that makes the Panda so angry.

    2. How do we fix it when the Google won’t tell us specifically what to change.

    I see a lot of aged, authority sites with top notch content, long pages, everything you list above – that got hit by the Panda – what can they do except complain to Google?

    What are your thoughts about the ‘false positives’ that got caught up in Google’s net: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=76830633df82fd8e&hl=en

    I know not all the sites reporting in are innocent, but it was quite an eye-opener reading through that thread.

    And regarding pages with ‘not enough words’, would you suggest we delete/merge C2 submissions?

    Most C2 pages are way less than 1000 words, some are only a few sentences – do you think they hurt the whole site?

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi David,

    I checked a few sites complaining and that Google Webmaster thread any many of them (not all) had very short pages – like below 500 words.

    As for C2, I think we need to aim for around 500 words at least. Perhaps you can approve a shorter submission and then wait for comments which will add more content. If that doesn’t happen, it’s maybe better to delete such pages.

    It’s an annoying thing to keep looking at C2 submissions again to check if they are now long enough, but the length of the page seems to be one of the key factors not to be penalized.

    [Reply]

  4. Tomaz on March 11th, 2011 6:55 am

    Mark Nunney has posted a very detailed guide at Wordtracker.com on what the causes of Panda penalty might be and what you can do about it. Good stuff.

    [Reply]

  5. Can You Hide From Google? I Don’t Think So. | Financial Freedom Ideas on March 12th, 2011 1:21 am

    […] since the latest Panda / Farmer algorithm change things may have changed as even sites like ezinearticles.com lost tons of […]

  6. Irena on March 16th, 2011 3:07 am

    Do you know the accuracy of Google SEO Penalty Checker?
    When I type in my domain, it says:
    “This domain has a severe penalty.”

    However, I haven’t noticed any decrease in traffic. In fact, it is steadily increasing, although the numbers aren’t very high since it is a relatively new site.

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

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