During the past couple of years, Google has done a number of updates to its search algorithm to improve the quality of its search results for the end user. Some sites that were using less than favorable SEO tactics significantly dropped in the search rankings. However, some sites that were not participating in blackhat SEO were also penalized. Either way, there were things about your site that Google didn’t like. Your site doesn’t have to flounder in the deep pages of the search results. Use these 10 steps to help your site recover from Google’s Panda updates.
1. Examine the data. Take a look at Google’s webmaster tools for your site. Have you taken a dip in keyword visibility or traffic? If not, your search engine problems are not technically considered a penalty, but your site could still be very much affected by the updates. Look for poor quality backlinks, broken links, over-optimized anchor text and other known factors to determine what’s causing your site to take a hit.
2. Learn from other sites. Once you know what caused Google to hit your site, do a search for sites that recovered from the same problems. These case studies will help you develop a plan of attack for regaining your position in the SERPs.
3. Develop a plan of action. Now that you know what you’ve done wrong and how other sites have recovered from the same penalties, it’s time to develop a plan of action based on what you’ve learned. This plan should be clearly outlined because it will come into play later.
4. Improve site performance. No matter what your site was hit for, all sites can benefit from a boost in performance. This means optimizing your site for speed and usability across all devices. Rather than a separate mobile site, Google seems to prefer responsive themes that will detect the end user’s device to display the site in a way that’s optimized for it.
5. Fix broken links. Users hate links that don’t work, and so does Google. Use a plugin or some other tool to identify the broken links on your site and fix them.
6. Remove paid links. Remove paid links from your own site or add nofollow tags to them. Google doesn’t like it when sites try to pass their page rank through paid links.
7. Remove or disavow poor quality backlinks. Before you submit a disavow request, Google wants to know that you’ve done all you can to remove the links yourself. Send emails, cease and desist letters and anything else you need to do in order to have links from bad neighborhoods removed. Once you’ve done all you can, petition Google with a disavow request for those that didn’t respond to your requests.
8. Stop syndicating content. Panda is particularly geared toward identifying and penalizing duplicate or spun content. Eliminating or cutting down on your syndication reduces the amount of content that is duplicated from your site.
9. Look at the fold. Google wants users to know exactly what they’re getting when they land on your site. If too much content is below the fold, your site’s purpose may be unclear. Make sure that your headers, ads and links above the fold do not hinder the actual content.
10. Follow best practices for link building. Don’t resort to paid ads. Avoid inordinate numbers of guest posts on low-quality sites. Aim for creating great content that other sites want to reference and link to for natural, high-quality links.
If you follow the steps outlined above, your site will be well on the way to recovery. Some sites have fully recovered and even boosted traffic to numbers higher than before the Panda update. It takes work, but that’s what it will take to regain your position in the SERPs.
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