Assuming that you have some knowledge of SEO you have probably heard of the “Panda” Update which Google first released in March 2011 with several more iterations since. Without going into too much detail, the basics of this algorithm update are that it was designed to push low quality or duplicated content down the results and get higher quality content ranking higher. This also includes ‘thin’ affiliate sites that are churned out rapidly with low quality content that offers little value and are generously sprinkled with affiliate links.
The general consensus is that the update has been a success, but as with any battle, there was collateral damage, and some sites lost up to 90% of their traffic including:
- Other feed directories and content aggregators
As part of the SEO work we do for our clients, we operate a handful of guinea pig sites that we utilise for testing different SEO strategies. One of these was ranked at #3 on Google for a high volume health related keyword. The site had around 40 pages of content, had been around for about 3 years, and we monetized it by linking to various affiliate programs. We had tried AdSense in the past but it wasn’t very effective so we removed it. The content was original and valuable. This site got slapped by Panda and disappeared from Google, nowhere to be found expect on a very specific domain search. Here is a quick run down on what we did to remedy the situation..
Removed thin pages
We went through the entire site and either removed pages that had a very low amount of content, or beefed them up by adding more.
Removed excessive affiliate links
Some of the pages (for e.g. product comparison ones) had a large number of affiliate links. We removed some of those links and focused on the ones that were actually performing and appended noindex and nofollow tags to them.
Added external authority links
We added links to external resources that Google considers to be highly trusted such as Wikipedia and government resources.
We identified and fixed any 404 pages, crawl errors, and optimised the download time by using image compression and tidying some parts of the code up.
It took us 2 days to complete most of the changes, and the site appeared back to its old position within 24 hours!
So, in summary, you should be more mindful of the content that you publish. Ask yourself if it’s unique, original and valuable to your audience. Watch our for affiliate links and don’t over do it. Link out to trusted sites. If the content farms are getting kicked off the SERPs, then the valuable content producers get to rank higher, so this is good news for most of us.