How to beat the Google Panda update…

Google Panda Update UK

Panda image from SXC.hu

Following on from my post about the Google Panda update – it has been widely documented that the update has caused havoc with a vast amount of websites across the globe.

Having researched the Panda update further and there being little response from website owners saying they have beaten the Panda, here are my top 8 tips on beating the Google Panda update.

1. Reduce the amount of external links

Having a vast amount of links that point to external websites could potentially look like a link farm. My advice on this would be to remove these links or add the “rel nofollow” attribute to at least 98% of the links, especially if they are off topic.

2. Reduce the amount of affiliate links

Over the past 18 months, Google has clamped down on sites that game the system and rank highly in the SERPs with a high amount of affiliate advertising / links on the website. Although some web owners make  a good living from affiliate marketing, for a site to now be successful you need to trim the amount of affiliate links down and I would advise 3 links / banners or less.

4. Re-write web copy so its unique, focused and of a high quality

One thing I have noticed with sites that has been knocked by the Panda update is a large majority of these sites are ecommerce with generic or duplicate product descriptions. Now I know it sounds a pain, especially if you have 1000′s of products, but these need to be unique.

Or, an alternative would be to have the “noindex / nofollow” tag on all of the product pages and have one overall page about a specific line of products so you can get some good keyword rich / user friendly copy on the page that then links to the specific product pages – this way you will have a really good page to link build against.

5. Consider the noindex and nofollow tag

This is a great tag which tells Google not to follow or index a particular page into their search index. If you are suffering from duplicate content, this is a really good method to implement or you could use the robot.txt file as an alternative.

6. Give more prominence to what’s on the site instead of external elements

A factor which has been mentioned is the amount of time that a user will stay on the website / page, the bounce rate and trust factor. Having too much focus on external elements is going to affect this so you need to make your web copy, images, CTAs etc very engaging – I would advise that you look at your website stats for each page and maybe run A/B split tests via Google website optimiser.

7. Improve upon the websites usability and design

How many times over the years have you gone to a website and the navigation is broken, a form doesn’t work, browser compatibility has been shocking and so on? Google wants websites to work, and work well so the user experience is top notch.

A site with broken links, out of place elements and has no real customer journey is pointless! That is why Google has pushed these sites down – so to give the user the best experience. I’d advise that you do some user testing and gather feedback, use clicktale and see how users are interacting with your website. 

8. User focused, user focused, user focused!

The key point to Google Panda is to focus everything at the user – Google wants the web and is search results to be of a high quality which will ensure every time you use Google, you get what you are looking for, first time.

and finally…

I’ve been very fortunate that none of the website I work on have been affected. With this in mind, I can take what I’ve done and compare this against other sites which have been affected by the Panda.

p.s – there is a funny side to the Panda update…


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© Dave Cain