How to recover from the Google Panda updates
All of the Panda algorithm updates were meant to reduce search engine rankings for low-quality sites and improve ranking for high quality sites. The low quality sites can be generally classified as sites that add little or no value to the web. For examples, sites that copy/steal content from other sources, reproduce existing content (even if they are not copy right protected), offer very shallow content that does not include much useful information, use various SEO tricks to get higher ranking in search engines etc. Through the algorithm updates, Google aims to give higher ranking for sites that provide in-depth information after lot of research.
The tips to recover from any Google algorithm update is the same - focus on quality of the content and provide valuable information to your readers.
Many of the SEO practices that were considered 'best practices' in the past are no longer recommended. For example, I used to recommend including keywords in headings and content and also highlight them using tags like <B>, <STRONG>, <I> etc. They all had SEO advantages in the past but anymore. Now I take utmost care to avoid repeating keywords to make sure Google does not even suspect that it is 'keyword spam'. And I started recommending my authors not to think about SEO anymore. Instead, just write like an author who has no clue about SEO and focus on the user.
This does not mean SEO is dead. You still need to take care of few things to make sure Google properly understand your content and subject.
Here are my suggestions to stay in the good book of Google and avoid Panda Penalty:
1. The definition of SEO is changing. Don't bother to spend much time tuning your content for search engines. Instead, write quality content with your readers in mind. (You have heard it 1000 times, right?)
2. Don't waste your time trying to figure out the loop holes in the Panda updates and Google algorithm. Some tricks that work now will get you in trouble in future. Just follow the SEO recommendations from Google and Matt Cutts.
3. Do you spend a lot of time on blog commenting to get backlinks? It may have worked well in the past but I no longer recommend it as a good practice to build backlinks and improve your search engine traffic. Google has made it very clear that any attempt to improve your search engine ranking through backlinks built in a non-natural way will be considered as Link Scheme. Commenting may help the beginners to get some initial exposure but it won't help you grow beyond some very basic levels. However, there is nothing wrong in participating in the communities that are of interesting to you but stay away from making too many footer/comment links with keyword optimized anchor text to avoid Google Panda chasing you.
Read more on how blog commenting can affect your search engine ranking.
4. The article title is important from SEO perspective as well as user experience. Google depends on it largely to figure out the subject of your content. It is important to include keywords in the title to have good search engine ranking. Even though this may not have any direct impact on the Panda penalty, Article Title is the ideal place to insert your best keywords without being considered as keyword spam.
5. Avoid repeating your keywords in the headings and subheadings. Even though usage of keywords can help Google to figure out the nature of the content, it comes with the risk of being identified as keyword spam. So, change your writing style. Don't insert keywords everywhere just to convince search engines. But obviously, you will need to use them where required and too little use of them could have negative results. Search engines may completely fail to figure out the subject of your article. Use your best judgement and figure out how many is too many!
6. Do lot of internal linking and use proper anchor text. Title attribute of links also play some role, so don't forget to use them. One of the big strategy changes for me in last few was to do lot of internal linking to related articles and I believe it has paid off.
7. Link building - better avoid it than over doing it! Let me share my experience. I was never a link building guy. But after my active involvement in some SEO groups, I got influenced by the link building success stories of fellow bloggers and I too tried my hands on it. The result was horrible. Some of my best articles were penalised (not Panda penalty but I think the Google's internal ranking penalty). You can read more on how link building affected the search engine ranking of my articles.
This does not mean you should not do any link building at all. Relevant links from authority sites and related content are still valuable. As long as you can convince the search engines that they are natural links, you are safe. Remember excessive guest posting and blog commenting may bring negative results if you are caught by the Panda update.
8. Avoid repeated posts on same or very similar content. In the past, we used to run article contests on given topics. That resulted in multiple articles on same subject in our website. Recently I went ahead and marked many of those articles as 'no-index' to avoid duplicate content penalty from Google.
9. Update your content regularly and provide up-to-date information. Fresh content is given some weightage in search results and can help you improve your search engine ranking. Acquiring good credibility and reputation is the best way to improve your ranking and escape from search engine penalties.
10. With the recent EMD update, Google has made it clear that they like authority sites and not small small sites that provide bits and pieces of information. There is nothing wrong in having micro-niche sites but if you can't provide authority information on each of your small sites, it is better to combine multiple small sites into one and focus on making it an authority site on a larger niche. If your site is affected by the EMD update, then read these tips to recover from EMD update.
11. Did you forget to link your content with your Google+ profile? Authorship may be the next big thing for SEO. Very soon you will see the reputation and authority of the author start impacting the search results, so take advantage of this opportunity.
You may have noticed that many of the recommendations above are not directly related to any specific algorithm update and penalty. However, these webmaster best practices will definitely help you improve the overall quality of your website/blog and avoid any potential penalties including Google Panda penalty since the ultimate aim of all algo updates are ranking high quality sites above the low quality sites.
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tripod.com. Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including IndiaStudyChannel.com, Techulator.com, dotnetspider.com and many more.
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Articles like this just make me want to visit your wesbite even more.
Detailed and to the point article. I enjoyed reading and would implement them on my blog.
This is a very good article those who are new to SEO. Thanks.
Hello. Thanks for sharing nice information. I used above method which you have mentioned when my boss asked about penguin affected site. Can you suggest for penguin affected site?
Regularly updating the contents, removing duplicate contents and including new effective contents is required for making a blog site conducive to good traffic.
The article has nicely presented these things to avoid any negative action from Google. Very informative and well narrated.