Most people associate Pandas with cute & cuddly bears, but to most website owners, Google’s Panda is anything but cute. It would have been February 2011 when you realized Google unleashed their Panda update on your website, which possibly knocked it to the ground. If you were too stunned to work out why you were a target, it’s because Google wanted a way to classify and demote websites with low quality, thin, and duplicate content. Their primary goal was to improve user experience and I bet you’re reading this because you were hit by Panda update and don’t know what to do. Get back up, dust yourself off and read on to see what you can do to even the score with that bear…

1) Review your site content

Have a good look at your site and ask yourself, “Is this full of good, original, and useful content?” If you can’t confidently answer “Yes” to this question for every page of your site, then you need to take the time to review and change them. Use Google’s webmaster guidelines to help with your page editing and make sure that you’re not practicing any known black-hat techniques, such as keyword stuffing and cloaking. Changing content is pretty easy, so once you’ve done that, we need to address your site’s usability.

2) Fix your page layout

A website’s ease of use, oftentimes referred to as “usability”, is high on the list of demands for internet surfers. Does your site present itself professionally and is it easy for people to use? Can users get to what they’re after quickly? If you can’t see anything wrong yourself, get a friend or family member to browse your site for some honest feedback on its usability. Then once you’ve rectified any layout issues, let’s review your keyword usage.

3) On-page keyword usage

Okay, be honest with yourself. Have you over-used keywords on your website because you were told it would help you in the rankings game? You really need to be careful with how you use your keywords, using keywords repetitively for the sake of SEO is not user-friendly and the big bad Panda bear doesn’t like it. The best way to create content is to first write something with your reader in mind, then afterwards inject keywords (sparingly) where they naturally fit, being careful not to spread them all over just to have them on the page. The rule of thumb is, if using the keyword doesn’t sound “right” – don’t use it! Just focus on writing sound, logical, and natural information and your site’s content will be perfect. But keywords aren’t the only thing Google looks at…

4) Site-wide quality scoring

Keep in mind that Google evaluates a website in its entirety, so even though my tips above are helpful, it’s important to think about how your site ‘looks’ overall in the eyes of the Panda. Do you have low quality pages in the search index? Do you have artificial (unnatural) back links pointing to your site? If there’s anything on your site that doesn’t add to its function and end-user helpfulness, then it’s possibly dragging your site down the rankings. Speaking of links, how can you change their effect on your site?

5) Links with no-index follow

A “no-index follow” is a way for you to tell Google that certain pages aren’t needed in its index. It’s kind of like saying, “Hey Google, I’m saving you the hassle, I know this page is duplicated so don’t bother with it.”

For example, if you have a WordPress site and it just so happens that your Author and About Us pages are the same, you can set up a “no-index follow” so you still pass links through those pages but aren’t a part of the search results.

6) Internal linking

Linking within your own website is a normal thing and Google would expect you to do it. But where it can count against you is if you create internal links just for the sake of creating them, and they have no real purpose other than SEO. Make sure your internal links are created with a clear purpose for the user and you’ll be good to go!

I know all this information seems like a lot, but these are really just a few of the steps you can take to get back on your feet after you’ve been hit by Panda update. Even if you haven’t been hit by the Google update yet, it’s better to be pro-active and go through these tips just to make sure your site’s not vulnerable.

If all this talk of Pandas, keywords, links (oh my!) is overwhelming you, and you’d rather spend time working on your business (opposed to trying to be an SEO expert), then contact one of our team members to find out how we can get your website into tip-top shape to fend off any potential attacks from Google’s zoo of updates. Click here. 🙂

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