Tips for Surviving Google’s Panda Attacks

by Keri Honea on August 18, 2011

You’ve read my article on Google’s new Panda algorithm. You’ve even read other blog posts that explain how to survive Google Panda. But you’ve still seen a huge drop in search rankings, traffic, and (the horror!) page ranks. You’re not a content farmer, your site isn’t slathered in advertising, and you’ve produced great content on a consistent basis for years. Why has the Panda slapped you down?

Never fear; you aren’t alone and we are here to help.

This Panda-wrestling phenomenon has been carefully studied, tested, and written about, and nothing has had conclusive results. It’s frustrating, but it’s unfortunately something we’re all going to have to patiently bear in the name of good content, warped science, and future Google Panda updates and tweaks.

The big reason why this is so frustrating is because Google only releases the Panda every 4-7 weeks to slap down sites. Even if you fix problems to satiate the Panda, the Panda won’t give you any love until it’s released again. That’s nearly two months of search engine rank and traffic suffering. So while you’re struggling in the bottom of the pit with the other Panda victims, here are some things you can do to help ensure the Panda won’t keep you down there the next time the beast runs through the interwebs.

Oh and you might want to find out how your boss likes his or her coffee so you can soften the blow of why your company site has fallen off the search engine map.

Watch Your Web Analytics

When I say, “watch your web analytics,” I don’t mean your number of visitors. The Panda doesn’t care about how much traffic you get; it cares about your repeat traffic, your bounce rate, average time spent on your site, and your number of pages visited per visit. If you have a steady stream of traffic but a high bounce rate, the Panda sees this as users not finding what they need from your site with those search terms. As a result, you get a Panda slap.

These factors are lovingly called “Toolbar data” around the web, as you can easily find data from all of this criteria from Google’s toolbar.

This is quite difficult for us bloggers, I know. Our ultimate goal is to get repeat traffic, and we strive to do this by writing various articles that will pop up in search engines to bring in potential repeat readers. But we all know that 80% (or more) of our traffic usually comes to our front pages, skims an article, and leaves without checking anything else out.

However, there is one surefire way to bring in the repeat traffic (aside from writing high quality, original content).

Social Media Social Media Social Media

I keep mentioning that search and social media are officially together, and hopefully it won’t take a slap from the Panda to let that sink in. All of your blog posts should be tweeted to a steady group of followers, and if you’re a business, all of your blog posts should be auto-shared to Facebook. Twitter followers are far more likely to become repeat readers than random users who search the web. The best part for them is that they won’t have to subscribe to your feed or remember to check into your site every day! Your tweets will remind them that you have great stuff waiting for them.

However, this is not enough. The Panda also sniffs around for share links to social media on your site. How easy is it to tweet, share on Facebook, Stumble, reddit, or Google Plus something on your site? (Huge emphasis on the Google Plus, by the way.) If you have a business, how easy is it to review the business on Yelp, CitySearch, or Google Places directly from your site?

Remove Some of that Old SEO Training

In the old days of SEO–you know, last year–we all were taught to write the occasional boilerplate content and rehash it over steady periods of time and/or to formulate several pages of content that focus on similar keywords. The idea was to keep these keywords in a fresh index for Google, so that the sites wouldn’t be considered out of date by Google’s standards for these keywords.

Now, Google has trained the Panda to consider such rehashing of content/keywords as content farming. It doesn’t matter how original your content is; if the Panda sees too much similarity, it will attack.

Don’t remove this content though, especially if you have backlinks to it or you link to it in other articles. Instead, try to merge the content, change the keyword optimization for one of the pages, or add robots tags to “noindex” any groups of similar content or groups of lower quality content.

Unfortunately, none of these methods are proven to keep the Panda permanently at bay. But they will add a layer of protection while you and the rest of us continue to wrestle the Panda. Gone may be the days of the tried-and-true methods for rock solid SEO, but that just makes our jobs as SEO Gurus more exciting, right?

I wonder if I can add Google Panda Wrestler to my job title….


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sir Dent September 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm

You know, the Panda updates have hurt a lot of writers. The information you give here seems to make sense as to what is really going on. Bounce rate I am sure is one of the main culprits causing PVs to go down.

I went to look at my own bounce rate to see how bad it was. It is very high, higher than it was before. I then checked the time on site. Most the bouncers, left after only between 0 to 10 seconds. Not really enough time to know if you found what you wanted or not.

What’s next? Pandalism? 😛

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