It’s been a mad few years in the world of SEO. Google have been doing their level best to find ways of putting a stop to many of the most widely used SEO techniques and to a large extent they have been successful in doing this, mostly thanks to the introduction of major updates such as Panda and Penguin.
These two updates have really changed the way SEO campaigns are conducted as falling foul of their penalties can see your website rankings fall off a cliff. The problem is that even if you or your SEO company are now only using Panda and Penguin safe SEO techniques for your current SEO work there is still the problem of all the previous work carried out in the past. Many of those old SEO tricks that you tried could now be causing real problems for you.
Firstly let’s start with Panda. Google’s Panda update was first released in Feb 2011 and has been updated fairly regularly since then. Panda mainly looks at on-page issues and due to this fixes are with-in the control of the website owner. One very important thing to remember is that Google Panda is a site wide quality score, similar to that used in adwords.
The calculation is thought to be like this “Panda score” times “other SEO factors”
These means that having a very low Panda score can negate nearly all your other SEO work and as it is site wide, it will affect all of your rankings and not just the ones from the pages that are causing the problem.
Duplicate or low quality content is one the biggest causes of a low Panda score, so check every page on your website to make sure it has high quality and unique content. I recommend using Copyscape and Siteliner for this job as they will even show what parts of the pages content are seen as duplicate and may allow you to just change these parts of the content instead of having to replace the entire page. I would also recommend that you use Copyscape premium to check any new content before uploading it to your site. Another thing is to check that is that you have fully deleted any old pages from your site as we commonly come across the problem of old versions of content affect new updated pages.
Quality is as important as uniqueness. Google wants to see good high quality content and Panda is very good at determining this, so make sure your content is well written, informative and something that gives the reader what they want. The better quality your content is the more likely it is that reader will spend time reading it. Google via analytics, chrome and other methods looks at the amount of time a visitor spends on a page before leaving so make your content as compelling to read as possible. Social sharing is also used be Google to determine the quality of your content as readers will inevitably share and link to the highest quality content.
Removing and replacing duplicate or poor content with high quality, engaging content will resolve your Panda problems but an important note is that Google does not pick this up immediately. The Panda quality score is only run every 4 to 8 weeks, so once you have made the changes you will have to wait for the next index. They say this is due to processing power but it’s more likely so that it is to stop SEO companies from working out new ways to game the update.
Just a quick note on the Hummingbird update, while this update is not a penalty based update like Panda and Penguin, its effects should be noted when writing new content. Its primary goal is to try and understand not just the words in your content but their meaning. So when writing content make sure you keep on topic, also try to full explore the topic you are writing about. This will also allow you to use many different versions of keywords rather than repeating the same ones over and over again. I recommend using Google search to see related keywords and searches and then including them within your content as this will help tell Google the topic your content as about.
The Google Penguin update is seen as more of an off-page update as its main focus is back links, but it is much more than this, so you will need to look at on-page links as well. Back links as we all know are used by Google to pass link authority between websites, but thanks to Penguin they can also bring penalties as well, if your overall link profile is not seen as natural by Google you could fall foul of the Google Penguin. The first step in the recovery process, is to know that you have a problem. To find information on this I recommend using “ahrefs” or “majestic” to run a report on your link profile. Once you have a list of the back links to your site you can start to fix your link profile. “Link profile” is the important phrase to remember here because it is not just a matter of good and bad links. Just having links from high PR sites can be viewed as unnatural just as having only blog comment back links. What you are aiming for is the widest verity of different types of links and the widest verity of anchor text. Natural links come in all types and your profile should reflect this. Natural links will also have different anchor text, so if you have a 1000 links all with the same anchor text Google will soon see this as un-natural or spam, you will need to start to clean these up first. I recommend that you use at least 20 different keywords for anchor text with the links to any page. Again, use Google search to find related keywords and phrases so your anchor text is as diverse and relevant as possible.
I would also throw in a few phrases like “click here” and “read this” for good measure. When I comes to the sites the links are coming from, diversity and relevance are just as important and certainly more important the number of links. If your site or page is about “cars” then you would expect to see the majority of your links for other site related to “cars” and it would certainly look un-natural if most of links were coming from sites or pages not related to “cars”.
Internal links, again these should be diverse and should be used to ease navigation and to help readers to find related pages. Old site design would always have had a list of static links down the left hand side and these were the same site wide. Now day’s internal linking works best if it is dynamic showing relevant links to the page being viewed.
For help and more information on the latest Panda and Penguin updates and how to recover from them visit SearchElevation.com