How to Identify and Recover for a Google Panda Hit

Written by: Jason Bayless | December 31, 2014

In October, Google rolled out yet another algorithm update. This version of Panda was directed at what is known as “thin” content and other low-quality content. According to Pierre Far, one of Google’s Webmaster Trends Analysts, this latest update is designed to identify low-quality content that has previously allowed massive websites to rank high in Google searches. What has happened is that the new algorithm has resulted in some of the rather large sites taking some significant hits, while some small to mid-sized high-quality sites have benefited from the update.

Particularly, press release distribution sites, such as PRWeb and PRNewswire have been hit the hardest by these new updates.

It is important to understand that Panda is designed to identify content that is of low quality and content that has little to no relevance. In other words, content that has created for the sole purpose of ranking high for certain keywords will now be penalized. If you believe that your site has suffered a Panda penalty, the most immediate recourse is to focus on eliminating any low-quality or “thin” content that you may have on your site.

Identifying If You Have Been Hit by Panda

The best way to identify if you have thin content on your site is to perform a site audit or a search engine visibility audit. This can be done by using Google Webmaster Tools to discover if any of your pages have recently fallen off of the visibility grid. If you had pages that previously ranked high, but they have recently experienced a significant drop in traffic, or they have disappeared altogether, you have more than likely experienced the wrath of Panda.

There are several options that you can use to reverse the damage, one of which would be to add some outbound links to authoritative sites. Another option would be to include images and other multimedia mechanisms. Also offering a more thorough anatomization of the specific topic being covered on the page will also increase the quality rating of the content.

Focus your Analytics Inquiry

It is important that when you are using the Google Analytics Tools that you focus your inquiry to organic traffic. You only want to see the results for traffic that comes from organic searches. Keep in mind that Panda does not impact your paid campaign efforts, so you do not want to include that data in your inquiry.

In order to do this, you will simply need to scroll down and click on Search, and then click on Organic. Finally, you will need to click on Source. Once you do this, you will be able to see your Google traffic over time. It will be normal to see ebbs and flows over time. No site gets the same amount of visitors every day. Also, keep in mind that weekend traffic can drop, depending on the industry. What you will be looking for is a consistent and sustained drop in the amount of traffic to your site or a specific page on your site.

What you may find is that there may be one or two pages on your site that have disappeared or close to it. Obviously, you will want to address the quality of the content on these pages, using some of the aforementioned options. It is worth mentioning that if the issue cannot be rectified, it may totally be worth deleting the content and creating high quality content that is relevant. This is because even one page that has been hit by Panda can negatively impact the ranking of the entire site.

You can also use the HTML Improvements tab in Google Webmaster Tools to make sure that you don’t have any duplicate content. Duplicate content is extremely common for eCommerce sites. It can also be an issue for sites with certain types of content management systems, which are notorious for creating duplicate content.

The key is to work with Google as much as possible to resolve the issue. Focusing on creating high quality content will go a long way in protecting your site from these types of penalties. If you are aware that the content on your site may be considered thin, you can also postulate that you site will be penalized for subpar content.