Google Panda Recovery

[Static Elements] x [Website Quality Checks] x [User Experience] = Panda Quality Score

The following (once) major websites were impacted harshly by Panda’s initial impact on SERPs & still have not recovered – in many cases their organic search footprint has just receded further: Down 88% since pre-Panda Down 62% since pre-Panda Down 92% since pre-Panda Down well over 99% since pre-Panda No longer exists


Google Panda Recovery & Best Practices

Matt Cutts has encouraged the use of the disavow tool even if you do not have a manual action against your site.

Specifically when:

The webmaster linking to you refuses to remove the link.

You suspect you might be impacted by negative SEO.

You have inbound links that you don’t wish to be associated with.

The main use for the disavow tool is for when you can’t get bad links removed.

What Is Google Panda?

Panda uses human reviewers to rate a sample of websites & decipher a pattern. This pattern is then continued by computers. This will hit websites that were designed only for search engine bots (and not users) particularly hard.

The algorithm update removes low quality pages from prominent search positions. Sites with large amount of junk content were particularly harshly impacted. If your site isn’t a content farm but you share similarities with such low quality sites then you need to buck up your ideas. Here is how to do it.

Counteracting the Effects of Panda

Remove low quality content from your website. This will universally benefit you in recovering.

Only One Page Should Target a Given Keyword
Get rid of pages that simultaneously target the same keyword. This is a sure fire sign of a low quality website.

Repeated Anchor Text from Low Quality Websites
Only quality links matter. Not all links. If the anchor text of your backlinks from low quality websites is repeated too often it looks fishy. So use several different variations when it comes to anchor text. This is aided by the growth of the semantic search component of Google.

Review your Entire Website
This is a site-wide issue and needs a sitewide solution. Websites with great content & poor content will see the great content negatively impacted by having low quality content indexed. Simply remove any content that is not of a high quality. Alternatively improve the low quality content – but substantially & meaningfully.
Remove Autogenerated Pages
A clear low quality signal to Google & to Panda. If you need to have autogenerated content on your website – if you’re an e-commerce outlet for example – I suggest noindexing all autogenerated content. If it doesn’t add value then you should noindex the page or content.

Remove Text Anemic Pages & Posts
Don’t bother publishing pages with small amounts of text content (& nothing else). This is viewed as an attempt to put up a page for the sake of it & not add any substantial value to the aggregated internet. It will negatively impact your entire website’s rankings.

Fresh Content Is Desirable
Newer content is preferred by Google because newer content is generally preferred by searchers too. Keep your content as up to date as possible.

Boilerplate Elements Should Be Minimal
Only use boilerplate elements site-wide that are absolutely necessary.

Overuse of Keyword Rich Anchor Text on External Links
Mix up the anchor text you use on outbound links from your website. Also don’t have too many outbound links – the logical inference will be that something nefarious is going on.

Navigational Hierarchies Should Be Logical
Humans prefer navigation that makes sense – logical hierarchies. Ask yourself if your site structure and hierarchy makes sense to you.

The only SEO strategy that will always work is improving user experience. If your website was impacted by the changes you need to focus on improving the quality of your content & thus user experience. Panda algorithmically rates website quality. The only course of action is to create or edit or amend your website so that it meets the criteria for a high quality website.
Ask yourself the following questions about your own website:

Would you trust the information presented in this content?
Is this content written by an expert?
Does the site have redundant content on similar topics with only marginal keyword variations?
Would you give your credit card data to this website?
Are there spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
Is the subject matter driven by the desires of readers, or does the creator merely generate content by guessing what might rank well?
Does the content offer original information/reporting/research or analysis?
Does the content offer value?
Is the content editorially balanced?
Is the site an authority?
Is the article offering up complete/comprehensive information around the topic?
Would you bookmark, share or recommend this content?
Do ads distract from the main content?
Is the content magazine, encyclopedia or book worthy?
Is there attention to detail?
Would search engine users be unimpressed with the content they find on the site?

Remember that low-quality content on one part of a website hurts the whole site’s rankings. So if you have high quality content pages mixed with some low quality pages you should either simply remove the low-quality ones or improve their content for the sake of the entire site’s organic footprint. This will improve the organic rankings for your high-quality content. As a rule of thumb – as much of my content is text based – I try not to publish anything with under 800 words, if not 1,500 to 5,000 words where possible – because such content is generally of higher quality & higher utility to search engine users.

Once again these are all loose guides – quality content comes in different shapes & sizes. If you can answer this simple question with an unreserved, unashamed ‘YES’ then the Panda update & other increases in Google’s sophistication become your friend not your enemy – “Is this content good?” If yes, make some more of it! If no, make it good. Simple, huh?

An historical listing of Google Panda updates from February 24, 2011 to July 18, 2013.

Update 1, Feb. 24, 2011 (11.8% of queries; English US only)
Update 2, April 11, 2011 (2% of queries; English internationally)
Update 3, May 10, 2011
Update 4, June 16, 2011
Update 5, July 23, 2011
Update 6, Aug. 12, 2011 (6-9% of queries in many non-English languages)
Update 7, Sept. 28, 2011
Update 8, Oct. 19, 2011 (2% of queries)
Update 9, Nov. 18, 2011: (under 1% of queries)
Update 10, Jan. 18, 2012
Update 11, Feb. 27, 2012
Update 12, March 23, 2012 (1.6% of queries)
Update 13, April 19, 2012
Update 14, April 27, 2012
Update 15, June 9, 2012: (1% of queries)
Update 16, June 25, 2012: (1% of queries)
Update 17, July 24, 2012:(1% of queries)
Update 18, Aug. 20, 2012: (1% of queries)
Update 19, Sept. 18, 2012: (0.7% of queries)
Update 20 , Sept. 27, 2012 (2.4% English queries)
Update 21, Nov. 5, 2012 (1.1% of English queries in US; 0.4% worldwide)
Update 22, Nov. 21, 2012 (0.8% of English queries)
Update 23, Dec. 21, 2012 (1.3% of English queries)
Update 24, Jan. 22, 2013 (1.2% of English queries)
Update 25, March 15, 2013
Update 26, July 18, 2013

Google no longer confirm updates for Panda.

Recommended Reading/Viewing on Google Panda & Google Panda Recovery

The following will further deepen your understand of the Panda update/s & how to go about recovering from any losses in search engine visibility your website might have suffered as a result of them:

How To Recover From Panda 4.1