Six months ago the SEO world was turned upside down when Google released the Panda update. Since then, it’s basically been all about upping your game with the content you provide on your site. Just last week, September 27th, a new Panda update took place. Didn’t notice? Don’t feel bad.
Google wasn’t exactly transparent about it happening. In fact, it was pretty much shrouded by the EMD update. Yep, the EMD update and the new Panda update seemingly overlapped, leaving a lot of people confused. People who didn’t have an EMD site watched their sites tank in search results and were scratching their heads.
So if you have a site that has dropped in rank (or possibly jumped up) then it very well could have been the new Panda. Obviously that’s probably the case if it isn’t an EMD. Were you hit? If so, there’s at least a silver lining you can reach for…
Recovering from Panda
Luckily, recovering from Panda doesn’t seem to be as difficult as some of the other things you could get hit with. With Panda, Google’s sole is to give users better quality sites in the search results. If you know that it’s Panda that you got hit with, then focus your efforts on increasing the quality of your site.
What’s kind of funny though, is that if you were hit with the EMD update then a lot of your focus should also be on quality. Because if your quality doesn’t live up to the standards and your domain name is an EMD then you’re playing with fire. But theoretically, if you have an EMD and amazing content that gives the user a great experience then you likely won’t fall into the EMD hole.
Provide good quality content that is helpful for your users. What this content is specifically is likely to vary according to your industry or niche. Any textual content should be written so that it’s easily understood by your readers.
- Using shorter sentences helps.
- Using words that you don’t need a degree to understand helps.
- Using subheadings to break up the content into section helps.
- Using bullet lists (like this one) helps.
The quality of your content is vital. Even if just a page or two on your site is thin (not very much content), poorly written content or content that doesn’t provide any real value then your whole site can suffer. Panda won’t just penalize that page and make sure it doesn’t rank highly, it can take it out on your entire site.
Get your tooth and comb out. Go through every single page on your site and make sure that it has plenty of helpful content. If it doesn’t, then revise, add to it… if need be, you can merge some different pages so that it’s one page with lots of awesome content your readers get help from.
I’ve even seen some speculate that Google is using the Flesch Reading Score, which is one of several ways to “score’ the readability of your content. If you’re interested, you can paste your content in and get your Flesch Score (and others) here.
Your site needs to be easy to use for both the user and for the search engines. This means that users should easily be able to find what they’re looking for and depending on your site, you may need different sitemaps or Schemas.
If your sitemap becomes a monster page with tons of links then consider breaking it up into several of them. Remember it doesn’t have to link to every single page on your site, though. It should be an easy starting point to get to all the major sections on your site.
If your business sells photography then your site probably is very image or video rich. If that’s the case, then you definitely need to be using Schema.org and use video sitemaps. On the guidelines (linked below) you will find links to video and image specific information that will help.
Navigating your site should be super simple for any user. You should link to other relevant and helpful pages on your site on each page of your site, but don’t go crazy with them. You don’t want to have 20 links on one single page. But 2 links that go to further information or related information to help the user is perfectly fine (and encouraged).
OK finally… whatever you do, don’t simply rely on others to figure out what to do with your site. Even if you hire someone to do it for you, you should at least read the design and content guidelines by Google. They aren’t detailed, but you will give you an idea and at the end of the day – it’s your business. It’s your responsibility, right?
Unlike with other updates, there are many stories of sites that have bounced back to where they were after tweaking their site and sometimes came back even stronger. Exactly what needs to be done will depend on your industry and what you have/haven’t done on the site. If you feel you got chewed up and spit out by Panda, contact us and we can help.