Google Panda Recovery: A Simple Guide to Recovering from Panda Penalty

Quick note: on 2nd June 2015, Google’s Gary Illyes says webmasters can expect a Panda update in the next two to four weeks time.

Google also recently rolled out a new update called doorway page penalty lately. And if you’ve been using doorway pages to increase your website search traffic, you’re in a big trouble. Read this post to find out more.

Have you noticed any traffic drop on your websites? It’s because you’re hit by Google Panda. If you’re not taking any precautions while creating content, your website traffic keeps on dropping. In this detailed guide, I’ll share few amazing Google Panda recovery tips.

Quick update: Last week (On 23rd September 2014) Google Panda 4.1 was rolled out and if you are facing any significant changes in your website traffic, that’s because you’re either hit or rewarded by Panda update.

What’s Google Panda update?

Google Panda is an important update from Google that aimed at penalizing the sites with thin contents. And it’s also a blessing for sites that have high quality content.

Google Panda update was first released in 2011, it was introduced to strike out all the low quality sites with poor content from the search results.

In a nutshell, Google Panda update will penalize the sites with low quality content and rewards the sites with high quality content.

There are many websites that have been demolished after the recent Google panda update 4.0. If you are one among them, this detailed guide is for you to recovering from Google panda penalty.

Before going into the details, first know which Google update affected your website traffic.

The best way to find it out is to check the Google update dates. You can check them here, this is a detailed guide written by Moz blog.

panda update dates

Also, do a simple SEO audit on your sites by going into your Google Webmaster Tools >> Search Appearance >> HTML improvements, and you will see if there are any duplicate titles and meta descriptions are present in your websites.

Google Panda 4.1 update

As of now Google Panda 4.1 update is still rolling in (from a week) and most gaming and lyrics related websites have been affected by this update. This update was first announced by Pierre Far on his Google plus profile on 26th September 2014. Many search engine related websites suggesting, Google Panda 4.1 awarded the sites that create news, content and download portals. And Google Panda 4.1 updated caused the damage to the sites that are related to games, lyrics and medical content.

Google Panda updates are frequently rolled out because of one major reason: to remove thin content from search results and give a better experience to Google users. If you’re not focusing on creating helpful content or just rehashing others content, you are not going to survive from Google Panda updates.

If you’ve a gaming, lyrics or medical related niche and hit by Google Panda 4.1 update, just make sure to follow the advice mentioned in this guide and you will be able to recover in the next Google Panda update.

Google Panda 4.0 update

Google released Panda update 4.0 on 21st May 2014. There are many sites that lose their organic traffic up to 60%. Even the giant eCommerce sites like eBay lost approx. 80% of their organic traffic after recent Panda update.

Google panda 4.0 update has affected 7% of queries. Previously whenever Google panda updates were rolling in, they used to affect 1 to 2% of search results. It means, this time almost 7% (that’s a whooping number!) have been removed from search results just in the name of thin or poor content. This is the reason why many sites lost their organic traffic immensely, and few sites with quality contents have increased their search traffic dramatically.

Here’s the screenshot of Bloggers Passion traffic before and after Google Panda update 4.0. As you can clearly see, my traffic levels have gone up after the recent Google panda update while majority of other people’s sites have gone down.

Organic Search Traffic Google Analytics

This clearly indicates how much priority Google Panda updates are giving to the sites that produce fresh content regularly.

Note: The above image is sole the traffic stats before and after Google panda updates, And I have noticed a whooping 46.8% increase in my search traffic after the panda update.

Google Panda Recovery Tips: how to recover from Google Panda Updates

recovering from panda updates

If you are hit by Google Panda, it’s not the end of the world. You can still get back your search rankings (in fact, you can improve your search traffic) if you implement few strategies on your blogs or websites.

If you search online for Google Panda recovery tips, you will come up with thousands of articles. But let me tell you one thing, most of these posts add no real value to the readers who really want to get back their site traffic after Google panda updates.

That’s the reason why I have carefully researched and sharing the tips to recovering from Google panda penalty. Let’s jump into the details.

Fix bad content on your websites

One of the major reasons your site is affected by Google panda updates is because you have thin content which is usually known as bad content.

These thin content often gets slashed by Google search engine crawlers, because they only want to show better contents to their users to give the best user experience. If you really want to get better search results, then you need to first sue your bad content.

Remember, Panda knows which is quality content and which is not.

How to find bad content on your sites?

One of the easiest ways to find and fix your bad content is to use your Google analytics. Know your traffic metrics to all the blog posts that you have published on your sites. The blog posts that have less SEO traffic are often the bad posts (in terms of Google eyes).

So here are few ways to fix the bad content to recover from Google panda updates quickly.

  • Use unique headlines: Most people Google random post ideas and come up almost with the same headlines and use on their blogs to get better search results. Google updates slap you if you don’t have unique headlines for your blog posts or pages. Always make sure to have magnetic and unique headlines, and make sure to Google whether there are any headlines available that you want to cover.
  • Delete or update your bad blog posts: I know, we all have some blog posts that don’t add any value to either search engines or readers. If you know any of them, try fixing them immediately. As Google panda updates its algorithms every now and then, you will get better rankings for the posts or pages that you make some improvements by adding more quality or deleting the bad posts from your sites.
  • Give your old posts SEO boost by interlinking: Interlinking your blog posts can be crucial in getting better search results. I would strongly advise you not to use any automation interlinking plugins or tools to linking. They often almost links to the same posts, so make sure to manually add the posts and maintain relevancy.
  • Fix your broken links: Broken links has nothing to do with Google Panda updates (Google Penguin updates are more concerned about bad links), but if you want to get fast recovery from Google panda updates, then find and fix all your broken or dead links on your websites. Because the links you add on your posts or pages definitely matter in terms of measuring your quality of the content. So focus on removing the bad links that are affecting your overall content. You can use the plugins like Broken link checker to find and fix your broken links on WordPress sites.

Create “high quality content”

If you are searching for proven ways to recover from Google Panda updates, make sure to focus on creating top notch content. Google always rewards the sites with high quality content. Here’s what top quality content means;

Content that is flawless: If you have blog posts or pages with grammatical mistakes or typos, your sites get affected by Google panda updates. The only solution to recover is to write flawless content or hire someone who writes better contents for you to grow your organic traffic. Always make sure to double check your posts for any mistakes before hitting publish button. Google don’t want to show or give top search results to the content that is full of typos. At least hire an editor if you are not good at publishing flawless content to make sure you are not being hit by Google panda updates.

Content that is meant for readers not search engines: If you are not writing relevant content for your sites, Google panda updates will slap you. So it’s always better to focus on specific keywords than confusing Google crawlers about the relevancy of your contents. For example, if you use the word Apple, there are so many chances that Google might consider that either as a fruit, brand or any name. If you don’t confuse Google by using the Apple word and filling your copy by a fruit name, brand or any name, you will definitely get penalized as Google can’t understand what you are really thinking to rank for. So focus on your targeted keywords and supplement them with relevant keywords to get better search rankings and never ever use irrelevant keywords.

Content that is original: Create content that is not shared anywhere else. Google updates like Panda and Penguin are giving more priority to the content filled sites that are uniquely written. If you are the one who is thinking to copy others headlines, description, sub heads or copy of the contents, you will definitely get penalized by Google Panda updates. And it’s hard to recover unless you remove these copied contents or and start producing really original content.

Stop too much indication of your posts: While it’s good to have your content indicated on different platforms to get more traffic, but it’s advisable if you stop indicating your contents on too many platforms. Make sure to syndicate your content on only those sites where you are mostly active, where you share your opinions with others and help others to grow their businesses.

Make sure your content is highly relevant: There’s only one effective way to recover from Google Panda updates and that is to write highly relevant topics on your blog. It’s not about posting anything under the sun on your blog to increase your website search traffic. Only publish contents that are highly relevant to your blog’s topic. If you are a beginner, instead of focusing on too any areas, focus on 2 to 3 topic ideas that are relevant to your blog audience. That way you will get more time to address the right people.

Go social, diversify your traffic sources

Social sharing is the key. Whether you agree it or not, Google updates give top priority to the social shares on your posts or pages. If your content gets lot of shares and comments, surely you will deserve better search rankings on Google.

So how to get more social shares on your blog posts to recover from Google updates like Panda and Penguin?

Here are few simple tips you can use.

  • Use a social sharing button plugin and display at the top or left side on your blog posts. The plugins like Digg Digg, or Sharebar can do this for you.
  • Use attractive images on your blog posts. Images often attract more people to share your blog posts. They especially go really viral on sites like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
  • Also time your blog posts. Share them on social media sites at peak times. Find out when your readers or fans will be available online and promote your blog posts on the social media sites accordingly.
  • Ask your readers or followers to share your posts on their social media accounts. Just by asking them, you can dramatically increase your social shares. If they really find your posts relevant and useful, they will definitely spread the word for you.
  • Write compelling headlines on your blog posts or web pages to attract more social shares. Audience on social media sites like Facebook and twitter mostly look up for headlines, if they are really persuading, they will instantly click on your posts and they will share it with others if they find your posts useful. So make sure to write attention grabbing headlines to recover from Google Panda updates.
  • Post your links on social media sites at right times to reach out to maximum people. Also start using others names while sharing stuff on social media. Make sure to include influential bloggers in your social sharing links if you mention them on your blog posts.

One more important thing to remember is to diversify your traffic sources. Why depend solely on Google to get traffic to your websites or blogs? Focus your time and energy also on the sites like social media and leverage your blog traffic using email lists etc. This way you won’t get much affected even when Google introduces new animal updates to drop your search engine rankings.

Use LSI keywords over short tail keywords

One of the top ways to recover from Google Panda penalties is to use LSI keywords, they give huge value to your blog posts.

Latent semantic indexing keywords (or LSI keywords) are simply known as related keywords or synonyms.

For example, if you are writing about WordPress SEO plugins, you can also use the relevant (LSI) keywords like, Best SEO plugins for WordPress, SEO WP plugins etc. on your blog posts to rank well in Google search results.

How do using LSI keywords help recovering from Google panda updates?

You are not using the same keywords again and again when using LSI keywords. It means you are not over optimizing your blog posts just to get better search results for your desired keywords. You are focusing more on giving better user experience by writing and including relevant and LSI keywords on your blog posts or pages.

This will be definitely seen as a positive sign by Google and helps you increase your search traffic for the keywords you are targeting for.

How to find LSI keywords?

Best way of finding LSI keywords is to use Google auto suggestion tool. For example, when you type for SEO tips on Google, it will also show you synonyms for the same keywords at the end of the results.

You can use them as well on your blog posts to tell Google properly that you are writing really relevant content for the keywords you are ranking for on search engines.

How much % keywords should you use?

There’s no thumb rule actually. It’s better if you don’t go beyond 3% of keyword density for any keywords you are targeting for. Less than 1% keyword density is also not good as it may not give you any great results from the search engines.

So, it’s advisable to use the keyword density between 1 to 3% but make sure to use LSI keywords also along with your focused keywords. This way you will be able to rank well for several keywords from one piece of content.

Excessive ads can kill your SEO

Perform heatmap analysis with Ptengine to figure out what’s performing better and what isn’t. Likewise you would be able to eliminate the bad ones and keep the one performing best.

Did you know that the ads you use on your blogs will have huge impact on your search engine rankings?

It’s true that too many ads above fold is too bad for your SEO. So make sure your site layout is focused on giving better experience to your readers not advertisers.

Google may penalize your site for having too many advertisements on your blogs or websites. Use above the fold area to give maximum visibility to your contents, not ads.

Here’s what Google said on its Inside Search blog:

We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.

So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.

Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.

If your site is hit by Panda updates, remove your ads that are above the fold and recrawl your site with less ads. This will help you easily recover from upcoming Panda updates.

No more content farms

Google also started taking serious actions against content farms that were gaining top rankings with thin quality contents.

Basically content farms means, few companies hire a large number of freelance writers to start generating a lot of textual contents to satisfy algorithms. This is done just to increase their search engine rankings. Usually these type of contents are posted only by using keyword stuffing or rehashing the contents.

According to many reports, the new change on Google Panda against penalizing these content farms impacted over 12% of US results. That’s a lot, right?

So if you are using these content farms, stop using it right away to avoid penalties from Google Panda updates.

Noindex your tags and categories

There are few pages that are not required to show on Google search results if you don’t want to get hit by any Google update like Penguin or Panda. These pages include your tags, category pages, image attachment pages etc.

The important thing here to remember is to only show those pages on Google that are of highly quality. Mostly tags and category pages don’t have any quality as they only show your excerpts or just tags, they don’t add any value to your search results. So it’s always better to noindex these tags and categories pages from WordPress to keep your blog safe from Google updates.

And also noindex unwanted pages like your newsletter subscription, download content or poor content pages from Google to make sure your site is full of great content pages.

Once open your Pages in WordPress (from dashboard), and check all the published pages you have. Find out that one’s that don’t add any value to the search engines, and then noindex one by one.

How can you noindex unwanted pages from WordPress?

One of the easiest ways to remove unwanted pages from Google search results is to use an awesome plugin called WordPress meta robots that makes your categories, tags, and archive noindex. And all the search results within your site, 404 and others to noindex, nofollow.

This is by far the most useful plugin to help you noindex unwanted links from Google search results.

So that’s it from my end. I hope the strategies are mentioned in this guide will help you recover from all the Google Panda updates. Make sure to work on all of them to get back your search rankings in the coming updates from Google Panda.

Final thoughts about Google Panda recovery:

Recovering from Google Panda updates is not a big deal if you focus on giving top notch quality to your readers. Focus on your readers and Google Panda will take care of your search traffic.

Google panda updates are mainly aimed at removing thin (or poor) contents from the search results. Make sure that no one is copying your contents (you can use tools like Copyscape or simply Google few of your search terms time to time to know copycats) and take necessary actions to remove the copied content from others sites. If you give better reader experience, Google panda updates give you better search results, it’s as simple as that.

Don’t lose your hopes if you have lost your organic traffic after recent Google panda updates. It gets updated every now and then, so make sure to work on the above tips and you will be recovering quickly from next Google panda updates.

Let me know what you think? Have you been hit by Google panda? If yes, what did you do to recover from Panda updates? Please share your thoughts below.


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