How Panda is Affecting You Right Now
Every website is assigned a “Quality Score” by Google.
You might be affected by Panda and not even know it.
New sites that are affected by Panda may just seem “hard to rank.”
Many older sites built between 2002-2007 are also losing rankings because Google perceives the sites as outdated.
Google is not going after these sites directly, but is trying to show the most relevant results by penalizing certain business models.
Panda is here to stay
Website Quality Score
To determine your ranking, you can use this formula:
Panda Quality Score / 100 x old ranking factors = your rank
That means a site with a quality score of 95 with only 10 backlinks could outrank a site with 20 backlinks and a quality score of only 70.
Power of Recovery
Following these guidelines to restore your ranking should increase your traffic by 2x – 9x within 72 hours.
The traffic increase will be sudden and happen without any new backlinks or content.
Raising your Quality Score
Your website quality score is internal. It is purposefully hidden from our view.
However, it is clear that it works with score thresholds. If you fall below a certain score, you will be penalized, and your rankings will fall.
If your site is on the “borderline” of the threshold score, you may see it “see-saw” up and down in the search results.
Most sites never recover on their own from this penalization. This is because the nature of the site is exactly what Google is penalizing.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to raise your quality score and restore your rankings in three ways.
Improving the static elements on your site is the easiest way to improve your quality score.
Make sure you always include the following pages on ANY site:
- Contact Page
- About Us
- Terms of Service
Do NOT use copied content on the above pages. Using several versions of each page as a guide, write the content on those pages so that it is unique. If not, the duplicate content could hurt your score.
On your contact page, it is best to include all of the following information:
- Valid author
- Mailing address
- Email address
- Phone number
- Author tags
It is even better if your site has multiple authorships listed and used.
If you have an ecommerce site, you will also want to include a page with shipping and warranty information.
If you have an affiliate or review site, be sure to comply with FTC regulations by adding a disclosure of possible compensation.
Part of your site’s quality score depends on the quality of the coding.
That is one reason that many sites created between 2002-2007 are experiencing a drop in rankings.
Having broken or obsolete / outdated code on your site can now cause it to lose rankings.
(Broken code examples: html errors, php errors, broken divs)
(Obsolete code examples: <u>, <center>, etc tags)
The look of your site should be controlled with a CSS style sheet.
You can check the code on your site at validator.w3.org
You can find a list of old, outdated code at this website:
Also, be on the lookout for hidden text, overlapping text and exploding images.
It is worth it to hire a good programmer and get all the coding fixed.
Part of your Google Quality Score is based on their perceived user experience.
TIP: Use Google Analytics to study these three things:
- Are visitors finding the content they want?
- Are visitors consuming the content?
- How deep are visitors going into the site?
- How long are visitors staying on the site?
1. Bounce Rate
2. User Engagement
3. Page Depth
Bounce Rate TIP: Keep your visits that are 1 to 10 seconds in length under 55%.
Doing this on ANY site will help increase its quality score.
Make your site so “sticky” people don’t want to leave.
If Google gives you a visitor, keep them on your site as long as possible. Then Google will reward you by sending more visitors.
Make your site look as if the party is already happening.
- Keep article post dates recent
- Make sure each article has comments.
- Include article likes, views and ratings.
- Put recent articles in the right-hand sidebar.
- Include social media buttons.
Impress visitors the second they reach your site so that they will stay.
Here is a 5-step process you can follow when posting an article.
1. Post the article.
2. Tweak the photos at the fold.
3. Add 2-3 fake comments.
4. Add social votes.
5. Manually add relevant sidebar articles.
Pagination + Table of Contents
Using pagination + a Table of Contents on your articles can improve your bounce rate by 20-30%.
- Increased page views
- Easier to read
- Higher quality perception
Here is an example of a site using this technique: http://scott.yang.id.au/code/toc-generator/
You can also increase visitor engagement on your site by 5% by interlinking your articles.
Non-example: For Ezine articles do NOT interlink articles, which give the impression of a content farm.
Positive example: Wikipedia uses extensive interlinking of articles and is known as an authority site.
You can improve your bounce rate by 32% to 95% by following the advice shown above.
If you would like to see one final bump in your quality score, look at the load speed of your site. It should be under 4 seconds.
If you site takes more than 4 seconds to load, try resizing your images or moving to a better server.
Make these changes and wait for the next Panda update. You should see your traffic double. Your visitors should have a better experience and you should earn more money.
Overcoming the Penguin Over-Optimization Penalty
The Penguin update took place on February 28th, 2012.
While the Panda update is based in a site-wide quality score, the Penguin update is based on keywords.
Penguin can penalize your site for the following reasons:
- keyword stuffing
- excessive bold usage
- excessive keyword optimization
For example, use a title that is natural. You don’t want to have a title that reads “Best keyword1, keyword2, keyword3, etc.”
Don’t place your main keyword EVERYWHERE (H1, H2, Title, Links, bold)
Off Page Factors
If you are seeing small drops in rankings, some of your incoming links might be discounted.
Here are some ways to restore your site after a small drop:
- Fix keyword stuffing
- Build new links with related, varied anchor text for two weeks
- Build new links with exact match anchor text after two weeks
- Continue to build a healthy mix of varied and exact match anchor text
If you are seeing big drops in the rankings or if your ranking has been dropped completely, you need to make some changes to your incoming links.
- Remove site-wide low quality links.
- Check for anchor text variation.
Low quality site-wide links are the kind people often buy on sites like Fiverr. They are often in the blogroll and are unrelated to the site content and other links.
If you cannot remove these low quality links yourself, you can use the Google disavow tool and make a reconsideration request.
A proven reconsideration request that has worked successfully dozens of times has the following elements.
- Admission of guilt (bought low quality links)
- Description of what you did to fix the problem (tried to remove links, used disavow tool)
- A promise to not do it again