Dr. Nick’s Post-Panda Prescription

This content is 10 years old. Please, read this page keeping its age in mind as SEO changes rapidly and while the past is useful to remember and reference, it often doesn't provide the best strategies to apply today.

"Hiii Every-body!"

Since the release of Google’s Panda algorithm update in February, Webmaster’s have been attempting to determine what it will take to get their websites back to their former rankings.

The Panda update designed to help to reduce the amount of webspam that had been saturating the SERPs for years. The update was designed to remove these low-quality sites from and level the playing field in an attempt to return to a more pristine and organic internet where content and visitor experience are the paramount ranking factors.

In theory, Panda was designed to address sites that were considered low-quality; that is they did not offer a good user experience, were spammy, or had duplicate or scraped content.

In a metaphor akin to the cream rising to the top; once the lower quality sites were removed or relocated in the SERPs, the sites that did offer good content and a positive user experience would automatically rise in the SERPs as a directly result of the reorganization.

The algorithm wasn’t perfect and many legitimate sites with quality content were still hit hard. Many problem sites that have been addressed and updated have yet to regain their former rankings. This created a lot of frustration amongst webmasters as Google was slow to release any specific information as to what constituted a "quality site" or any real concrete solutions for repairing your site.

On Friday, Google posted an update on its Webmaster Central blog called Providing More Guidance on Building High-Quality Sites.

Since the beginning of the update the mantra that I have been repeating to clients is: How would you design your website if there were no Google, or search engines or rankings to consider? How would you woo new clients and get them to share your website with others?

The answer is that you would have to focus on being an authority in your area of expertise, offering quality content that portrays this knowledge and developing not only a pleasing design, but one that is easy to navigate, has clean code, and was not spammy, or full of ads. Another question to ask yourself is: "Do your trust the site?" Would you feel comfortable releasing your credit card information on the site? In other words; does the site inspire trust?

So listed here in its entirety is the list of tips and suggestions from the Google post. Ask yourself these questions when evaluating your site:

  • 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 shallower 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?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

There was an interesting comment from Tom Critchlow and Matt Cutts via Twitter where Tom asked:

@mattcutts "assuming a site completely reworks their site/content after panda, how long before they will regain traffic?"

@tomcritchlow "short version is that it’s not data that’s updated daily right now. More like when we re-run the algorithms to regen the data."

This would also explain why so many webmasters have not seen their site regain traffic or rank as quickly as expected. Unscheduled crawling will certainly make the implementation of changes harder on a website. As SEOs we can no longer make changes on a site and then wait for the page to be crawled at a predictable interval and see the results quickly. Perhaps Google feels that by leaving the crawl rate undetermined, or more organic that this will help dissuade spammers from gaming the SERPs.

There are also rumors of a third major Panda update release that has was released around May 3-6th. Many webmasters have been reporting wild fluctuations in rankings and some oddities in the Google cache and in some instances with site search commands. If you have experienced any problems over the last week with rankings that you feel are attributed to a third Panda release, leave us a comment. We would love to hear about it.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.