20 SEO Strategies for Sites Affected By Google Panda

By on May 3, 2011 in Search | 63 comments

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The Google Panda Update – sounds harmless, but it’s not. It has recently slapped a lot of huge sites and even the tGoogle Panda Slaprusted/reputable ones (globally) off the Google’s search result pages. The known major signals and basis of this update mostly targeted sites that contained poor quality of content, pages that have external duplicates and dormant behavior of users once they are on the page.

I have been receiving a lot of inquiries from big websites about this specific fixes recently through my link marketing services page, which made me decide to create this post. The strategies listed below are mostly based on my own research through various web sources, actual analysis/auditing of prospected clients’ sites and personal observations.

On-site and Content Management:

Link Prospecting and Competitor Analysis

Link Building

Other Notable Sources:

Core Principle:

More Hints from Google

Amit Singhal recently wrote on Google Webmaster Central Blog more hints on how they try to write algorithms that are more focused on segregating trustworthy content from not:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?

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Image Credit: CoolSurface

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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    • Kaiserthesage

      May 3, 2011

      Post a Reply

      I’ve also spoke with a lot of website owners (mostly big ecommerce and resource sites) who are really hurt by the Panda Update. It really sucks that Google has also punished sites that are really offering real value and quality to their visitors.

      Thanks in advance Kristi (for sharing this to those who have been looking for this sort of post) 😀

  1. Peter Bird

    May 4, 2011

    Post a Reply

    As there has been no verified recovery of rankings by any site affected by the Panda update, how do you actually know that any of this is actually going to work?

  2. Peter Bird

    May 4, 2011

    Post a Reply

    The site was NOT affected by Panda! Its traffic loss was gradual. Panda was an immediate effect. They lost traffic gradually for other reasons.

    I ask again – how do you know what you are suggesting will actually work? A lot of sites have already done most of that. Can you explain why they have not got their rankings back?

    • Kaiserthesage

      May 4, 2011

      Post a Reply

      There are also other sites that have been affected with only gradual loss in traffic, as most that I have spoke with shown results of 30 – 50% loss in search engine traffic after the actual update, perhaps the effect of the subsequent improvements of the update on other search queries.

      I know that there was another recent changes on Google SERPs (last April 29 – 30 and not related to Panda) that caused sites to drop most of their major keywords’ rankings again – http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4306638.htm

      Immediate recovery from these changes would take time (months I believe), given that most affected sites have thousands of pages that need to be cleared off the recent update’s said factors that have caused their rankings to drop. However, Google had mainly suggested to affected companies to focus on adding high quality content on their sites and to prevent questionable pages from getting indexed. And in my opinion, pushing quality content in front is the best way to recover from this. And in this case, massive fixes are needed for large websites, which I think would really take time to getting those rankings back.

  3. Though my sites were not greatly affected by the Google Panda update, I still wonder what could be the best steps in order to regain the lost ranking aside from producing quality information. And I think all the needed information are already mentioned here. Thanks a lot!

  4. When talking about quality content I am wondering what is the best way to go. Because you can add a piece of body text to all product/category pages, but also add reviews and the like. What would you recommend, and would it actually make a difference what you add (as long as it’s unique)?

  5. @Peter since there is no 100% method to regaining, the tips here are all about improving quality and that’s what the G is saying. What we have been doing is making different sets of changes to pages that got hit and have been waiting for results. Test test test and improve is all you can really do!

    We’ve also noticed that links perhaps played a decent sized role within the Panda update. Although I know a big link algo change is coming, I strongly believe it’s having an impact. Especially from the clients coming to us with who’ve had just about everything done right on page for the most part, but over anchor text abuse had seemed to sting for the pages dropped around the same time.

  6. Hey Jason
    I have heard so much about google panda which make so many big or even authority site lost their traffic. I think to survive fro google panda, we need quality content and also quality backlink. But thanks for sharing.

  7. Jason, Thanks for sharing useful information about panda update and how to get ranking back as there are around 12% of sites infected with the new updates. Google is doing frequent changes in the algorithm to produce best search engine results and that’s why its number #1 search engine.

    From long time I have found that Google is giving high priority to the site that has unique content and good amount of relevant backlinks.

  8. lawmacs

    May 7, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Lots of people get affected by the panda update but i believe that Google is more about protecting its own advertising program adwords by affecting other sites traffic then advertisers will be thinking twice to advertise on them that is my opinion no solid proof here but some smaller blogs and website benefits from the recent panda update some wonderful tips here Jason.

  9. stan@r4 ds

    May 7, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I wish there were some concrete answers on what to do in order to regain rankings. Seeing so much fluctuation. Too much. And spam sites reaching #1 in the serps, while good sites have gone down. Makes no sense. Something is definitely wrong with Google right now, but unfortunately, I do see an end/fix in sight.

  10. Hey jason,

    First time commenter.

    Really, like the way you’ve distinguished all the points & explain profoundly how could we regain lost rankings from the affect of google panda. But honestly these panda update hurt more to SMB as they were largely rely on google for their business.

    Those tactics you’ve shown are awesome but one needs to check as you said step by step & it could be done only by a full time blogger who don’t have any job but only to try these methods to know whether he get his ranking back after applying your methods.

    But you showd some good points, will come back for your next post.

  11. Completely. I have seen the seobook infographic and it was alarming for me as seo specialist. But you know we always find ways to make better. Thank God I’ve found another innovative resources here. I am sure this will help A LOT. Whether poeple like SEO or not, it still through SEO that we could get long termed traafic and sales. Regards, Kira

  12. I’ve been hearing about Google Panda for some time now and haven’t really taken time to learn what it does. However, after hearing that it can greatly affect the traffic on your site, it really had me worried. Fortunately, I heard that this only involves low-quality content sites.

  13. Google have been saying it for years – concentrate on the quality! Great post Kaiser. Essentially what it boils down to is creating great, accesible, spam free, user firendly sites with great content . Am I wrong? Offline businesses survive by being great at what you do. Why shouldn’t that apply online too – if two grocery shops have the same price stock and one is beautifully clean with great staff and the other is a dive run by bath dodging and rude people – which do you choose? That was rhetorical by the way!!

  14. I’ve read somewhere that Google Panda only targets ranked low quality websites and that you have nothing to worry about if your site provides excellent quality and content. Then again, there is a chance that their algorithm may provide drawbacks for reputable websites which can be very damaging.

  15. BingoBabe

    May 14, 2011

    Post a Reply

    WOW! I cant believe I’ve never been at this blog before. Its definitely one of the most legit SEO blogs i have read. How could you stay hidden for so long :-) Bookmarked!

  16. Matt @ Qubok

    May 16, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Some genuinely great ideas here, particularly when it comes to improving ALL inner pages to ensure the entire site is valuable. But it’s so damn tough to achieve, especially if your industry is not so tech savvy (i.e. it’s hard to get people tweet, it’s hard to find blogs to guest post on). There seems to be something a little unfair about this update, some of my blogs have improved in the rankings where others have fallen – I have yet to work out any real differences between them however, which just makes me suspicious of how GOOD this updated has been implemented…

  17. I appreciate the part about integrating the blog into your main site! And even more I liked the core principles at the end. Now, to quit being lazy and learn how to do all of this stuff on my own so I don’t have to rely on someone else to do it for me or I don’t get the glazed over, deer in the headlights look on my face when someone’s really getting all geek with this stuff. :)

  18. Jason, you rule man! That’s the most completed post Panda SEO guide I’ve read. I am building my new blog now and I really have to follow these tips one by one. I see that I ‘ve made mistakes in my old blog and I started fixing some faults. I also used Google’s webmaster tool to search for errors in that blog. Too many! I will have to fix them now. Anyway, thanks a lot dude.

  19. Amy

    May 19, 2011

    Post a Reply

    One of my sites is affected by google panda update, maybe from my old posts when the blog is just starting. Googling how to regain serps rank pointed me to this great posts. I actually took some notes and will apply these suggestions

  20. Valerie

    May 21, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Hey Kaiserthesage this is the type of article I have been looking for I write SEO content for people and I have been curious to the changes that Google has put into effect. This will help me when I am writing new web pages for my customers!! Thanks!!

  21. eugene

    May 22, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Guys have you read this:
    In the Wired.com Q&A with Amit Singhal
    and Matt Cutts, the Google reps revealed
    that they told their “outside testers” or
    raters to ask themselves questions like this:

    Would you be comfortable giving this site
    your credit card?
    Would you be comfortable giving medicine
    prescribed by this site to your kids?
    Do you consider this site to be
    Would it be okay if this was in a
    Does this site have excessive ads?
    Then Amit Singhal stated, “…based on
    that, we basically formed some definition of
    what could be considered low quality.”

    This are the clues for Panda update SEO Stategy

  22. this is the coolest post i’ve read this month ..very informative and interesting to read..a big help for others that are still searching in how to prevent google panda effects..thanks for this up..

  23. Sid

    May 24, 2011

    Post a Reply

    You have some great tips, but I stopped at this point: “Track crawl errors of the site via Google Webmaster Tool and fix 404 errors by employing 301 redirects.” — Can you enlighten me why would one do this?

    As far as I remember, Matt said that is it better to have 404 as 404 pages, and webmasters shouldn’t direct them to any page; instead, make the 404 error pages useful by adding navigational link.

    I hope I could hear something promising from your side…

  24. Kaiserthesage,

    I think the only way is just concentrating on the quality of the contents. The maintenance of good quality backlink is also important. Thanks for sharing. I extremely appreciate it. Keep up the spirit!

  25. kaye

    May 27, 2011

    Post a Reply

    These signals are basically retrieved from popular social networks such as Facebook, now a days facebook getting bad even small kids are learning about facebook and its not good coz kids dont know about privacy…

  26. Colin

    June 8, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Hello Kaiserthesage,
    What you have written is a great guide to internet marketing as a whole but until we start to see results after G has run Panda again then all this has to be guess work. For me the real issue comes when you have to think is it just better to start a new site rather than be in the same position in 12 months time.

    So you do all the obvious things in the hope that you will get a reprieve some time in the future and then start to work on your insurance policy – a new site from scratch.

  27. I just tried some of these ideas (specifically using robots.txt to disallow my unfinished pages…) on a site that had severe Google ranking drops and it seems to have worked… quite quickly too.

    In the past I’ve always created blank pages .. sort of placeholder pages to get them “aged” in Google.. now I’m not going to do that anymore. I am only going to put a page up when it’s got unique content on it.

  28. Rose

    July 17, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I Tried many ideas from so many website but still got nothing . google panda kick my website from search engines now there is any other way to save your website ? and also google panda drop ranking these sites who have duplicate content . i have many website . News blogs , Gossips , Mobile blogs .. but all website working fine but my only one website is affected from Google Panda . Its really so pain full me i worked very hard on my websites and google kick out them in a hour …

  29. Daan

    August 10, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I think that panda was a good move by Google. Everyone was spamming like crazy on sites like squidoo and mixx. This is over now. I think we should all go with quality content. The only think is that it is difficult to determine what is quality. If I have a site about housecleaning for people with down syndrome the quality is much lower than other sites. And i also think that Google should devaluate the wikipedia pages.

  30. I really apreciate this tips. Although my blog is writen in spanish and google panda have not arrived yet to the spanish world is good to take this tips in advance.

  31. Kal

    September 16, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I guess that I have been lucky and actually gained higher PR and SERP after first and 2nd Panda update. Probably I am doing something right.

  32. Noel Addison

    September 30, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I’ve always thought of the Internet as a level playing field where smaller companies can compete with larger ones with huge financial resources. With plenty of these large sites having been taken down a peg or two, I think it is better in the long run for SMEs.

  33. Mara

    October 26, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Thank you for the very specific and detailed post. My website has definitely been bitten by Panda and I’ve been doing a lot of research and hard work to regain my traffic, which is particularly difficult because I’m a children’s clothing designer, not an SEO pro. But your post was very informative and I’m going to follow your instructions carefully.

  34. sneha

    November 5, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I lost one thid of traffic man!! Panda made me weep today as all efforts indrain today!!Wish m able to recover it soon!

  35. Joyce

    November 24, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Very well documented blog. But i think we have done most of the information you’ve posted here. I’ll look forward to your new post.

  36. Shadab

    November 24, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I really appreciate your work. You have listed mostly importing things for those who are affected by Panda. I follow your points and lets re-comment here for our result.

  37. Tina Tina

    December 22, 2011

    Post a Reply

    If someone was not commanding 80% of search market these updates wont matter. People would move on and do something else. There are no laws on the Internet if you are a complete Monopoly, it is still like Wild Wild West.

    Meanwhile Congress and FTC people are asleep at the wheel and the carnage and misery continues at the hands of a single landowner.

  38. Tina Tina

    December 22, 2011

    Post a Reply

    The amazing thing is no one raises a voice when they are punished by some unknown metrics by some Gigantic Monopoly.

    If your Utility company cut off 80 percent of your heating or power would you sit there and sulk in isolation? The worst thing would be you don’t even know how you can get back your heat and power.

    One more thing about this article. Its so complex that very few people and endure that kind of effort to bring back their sites. Some of the stuff can be implemented but lots of too deep.

  39. John Slocum

    February 4, 2012

    Post a Reply

    I have a question about the last sentence in your first paragraph with respect to the “dormant behavior of users once on a page.” For the bulk of my real estate site I must iframe in the data feed from the company providing the home listings and map searches. My users can be on a single page for a long time interacting with the iframe portion only. Will the Panda update now be penalizing my site (or, not giving me reasonable credit) for this configuration (this is a common configuration in the real estate industry)? Thanks!

  40. Phil @ Adwords

    March 12, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Amazing post, I love the core principals, as I started my career post panda I didn’t get to see first hand the impact it had on some sites. I’ll be back for this post.

  41. Donah Zetlos

    March 12, 2012

    Post a Reply

    I’ve read the latest Google updates and they are suffering to 40 changes. Well, the changes are focused on on-site optimization and the importance of CONTENT. Google will love fresh and unique content, thus to rank up on SE, content is still the Key.

  42. Chase

    April 26, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Great advice, unfortunately the panda got me. Currently looking for some panda repellent and think your blog just gave me some

    Thanks :)

  43. eeZ

    May 18, 2012

    Post a Reply

    My forum site also got affected. Before this we are PR 3 forum. Then after this update, it’s decreased to PR 1. :( I think maybe because our forum articles almost same with other blog/forum articles.

  44. Nick Eubanks

    May 27, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Hey Jason – Thanks for the post, lots of really helpful and actionable information in here. I wanted to see if you’ve done any specific testing with any of your sites? Specifically I was able to have my personal blog ‘hit’ for over optimization (not on purpose the first time) make some changes to external inbound links, recover, and then intentionally get the site hit again to gain some insight into the potential threshold for over optimization… I would love to get you input if you’re interested, you can check out the test here: http://www.seomoz.org/ugc/recovering-from-the-penguin-update-a-true-story Cheers!

  45. Ethan Millers

    June 28, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Good post. The hard core principles are just great friend. I feel duplicated articles should never be included in a page and also the one with wishy-washy content.

  46. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this outstanding blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for
    book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.

    I look forward to fresh updates and will share this
    website with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  47. Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem together with your site in web explorer, might test this? IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a big component of other people will leave out your excellent writing due to this problem.

  48. Steven Thompson

    August 13, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Many thanks for your post as I work to build my new site! Bookmarked!

  49. Abhijit Gupta

    January 20, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Your blog is playing a very important part to overcome my mistakes. I agree with you, new Google panda update help me to find good ranking. Now my website having good organic traffic.

  50. shafique

    March 4, 2014

    Post a Reply

    Nice Post Google policies has changed a lot which has effected search ranking of many websites.

    You provide a good tutorial how to overcome these problems.



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