Google has announced via Twitter that the Panda algorithm has been updated to version 4.0.
So what is Panda 4.0 and how might it affect my website in the search results?
We are going to take a good look under the bonnet and dig into what Panda targets and exactly how to identify if your site has been affected by this latest update and exactly what you can do to recover lost rankings.
Panda has been designed into the Google algorithm to weed out low quality websites from making their way through to the top of the search engine results. Google deem low quality content based on a range of factors, and essentially give your web page content a quality score, which has an effect on it’s ability to show up in the SERPS (search engine results pages).
The first place to start your Panda hunt, is the pages included in the Google index. The filters do not like duplicate pages, or thin content pages so the first thing you need to do is locate any pages that may come across as duplicate or close to duplicate type pages and have them excluded from the Google index.
Not taking the chainsaw to these low quality pages on your site, you risk the overall site quality score penalty which will bring down the whole of your search rankings, so there is no time to be precious about pages that should be hidden from the index, no matter how fond you are of them.
By going through the following recommended change instructions, you are going to see site-wide benefits that will improve your overall rankings for your site. You can remove pages and folders of pages from the Google index by using a robots.txt file, commonly referred to as a robots text file.
Next you need to check your Google Webmasters Tool messages for your site.
By logging into the GWMT, and looking for known crawl errors and fixing these you are going to make Google like your site even more. 404 errors occur when someone is linking into your site for a page that no longer exists. The easiest way to solve this problem, is find the page it should be linking to and do a 301 redirect to the correct page. If you use WordPress as a platform for your website then there is an easy to install free plugin that will handle this for you. It is called Redirection and it works very well.
Next you need to be looking at internal linking structures.
Links on pages pointing to other pages on your site, created a structure that the Google Bot can follow to find and index your pages. Examining the way your pages link to each other and getting the balance right can make a big difference to the way Google views your site, indexes it and ultimately rewards it with better rankings.
- Better internal link structures. Don’t repeat anchor text links to internal pages, max 1 – 3 times.
- Blend or balance your linking patterns to a ratio of 50:50 – (homepage links : internal page links)
Basic SEO Tips
- Make your title tags sing. There is no point in having duplicate, low quality title tags that don’t sell. Remember your title tag is a CTA or call to action headline in the search results
- Remove duplicate title tags
- Keep title tags to 55 characters maximum
- Use this serps visualiser tool, to get an idea of how you show up in Google: Serp Preview Tool.
WordPress Tags Delete
If you are using WordPress for your website platform, don’t have any more than “One” tag per post. The reason here is simple. The more tags you have, the more references that internal links are going to produce and divide your link juice.
Just by removing excess (more than one category tag) from your posts, you will see a boost.
If you have an uncategorized category, change it to something useful.
Removing Thin Content Pages
If you have pages that lack good well written original content, that is at least 150 -200 words in length, then you have a thin content page. Google doesn’t like pages like this, as it sees it as a low information page. The best thing to do if you have pages like this is to noindex them with a meta tag. If you have a folder of pages like this, then noindex the folder. Once again this is don’t best with a robots.txt file.
The types of pages that can affect your site’s ability to rank highly are based around the following criteria:
- Low quantity pages – less than 200 words
- Login pages
- Affiliate pages
- Privacy, Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions
- Duplicate content pages, ie something-suburb or keyword-city
To find out just how many pages Google has in their index, just do a Site Colon search. site:www.yoursite.com.au and look at the pages showing up in the search results. If you see a warning that some pages have been omitted, then click that link and see what pages Google doesn’t like and either fix them with quality content or just noindex them.
One way of making sure your content remains your content, is to join Google+ and add the <link rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/105311896661696346513/posts”/> in the head of the code of your pages on your site. (make sure to replace the number after the /u/o/…with your own number as that one is mine ; ).
By doing this and being active on Google+, joining circles, posting regularly, your profile photo thumbnail is going to turn up in the search results, giving you a nice boost to your click through rates from the serps. It is getting harder to show up all the time but being a good Google+er will ensure you get the exposure you are looking for.
The next thing you need to consider is how fast your page loads. Google doesn’t give favor to sites that take too long to load. You can test your site’s load speed by using this free tool, GTmetrix. This site will give you a good indication of your site’s load speed and recommendations on how to fix problems, bottlenecks and errors identified.
This list of recommendations is by no means the definitive guide but is simply a way to address issues that the Google Panda 4.0 algorithm is trying to filter out. It may seem like a lot of work, and in many cases this could be true, but until these things are bought into line, the rankability will be affected and the loss of traffic will be far more expensive than the time or consultants fee to fix.
If you need any assistance in getting these things fixed on your website, then please feel free to Contact me today.