There has been a a lot of talk in the news lately about Google Panda. Many websites that have ranked well on Google for a decade or longer have suddenly taken a huge hit losing up to 90% of the traffic. We've been fielding all sorts of questions from clients, are they going to be next is the site at risk have they already been hit by the Google panda algorithm.
In short? Yes – several of our clients have been hit and the reality is they deserve to be and here's why.
- The first client to be hit had made page one of Google to many different phrases because he took down all his duplicate content manufacturer provided product descriptions, and replace them with unique well-written quality descriptions. Everything went along just fine to 2 years. We hadn't done any work on the site for five months..then boom and comes along and we had a phone call from his client saying his ratings have dropped and traffic is down by 70%. It took 20 minutes to see the problem
Over the last five months this client had added a lot of new products and instead of paying for unique product descriptions, descriptions long enough to actually be useful rather than one line manufacturer descriptions…he published the manufacturer provided one-liners. So in five months he had doubled the number of pages on this site that he had done this by creating tiny pages with one line of content that was in no way unique.
So right now he is madly scrambling getting new descriptions written. It's been two weeks since he started this process and already he has recovered around half of the lost traffic and rankings.
- We got our second call from an old client last week – traffic was down 50% they rankings didn't seem to have moved very far. Firstly that make something very clear. The difference between the number one spot in the number five spot is roughly 5 times as much traffic. It is about five times again down to position 10.seemingly small drops in rankings can in fact mean large drops in traffic.
We had a good look at this client site and realised they had been adding loads of new pages of information the major source of this information was cut and paste from Wikipedia. Why would Google what the site was basically a copy of another site to appear high in its rankings? We have blocked all of these Wikipedia copy pages from Google and the site has made an 80% recovery.
- Finally,we got one last call this morning, this client knew they'd be hit by Panda that had been too embarrassed to call us because they're done exactly the opposite of what we told them to do. They have been creating new pages on this site, adding only one line of information, with the aim that they would come back later and fill out full details of the topic. Of course Google doesn't want sites like this to rank well on the site has been slammed in Panda. We've given this client instructions to simply delete all these pages immediately.
There is a lot of talk that excessive advertising on a page especially advertising appears very high up on the page could be part of this algorithm. We are yet to finalise our opinion on this. We are yet to see any sites that have been penalised for lots of advertising where they are not also had other issues that will more likely responsible such as local content, very short pages, duplicate content across the site caused by excessive use of tags etc etc and so on. We have seen two fairly similar sites, one which was not penalised and yes it did have less advertising that also has better and 100% unique content whereas the site with more advertising does not. At this point I'm inclined to believe that Google is checking to see if a site appears to have excessive advertising and was not specifically penalising sites to this advertising, Google applies a more rigourous test to such sites.
What is Google can do mean for your average small site? Not much. Likely won't have much to do to content anyway so you should be fine.
We do recommend if you haven't already started your Facebook campaign that you start today. More Facebook campaigns themselves don't boost ratings, they do prove to Google that real people like your site, as opposed to people making rubbishy sites just that the purpose of linking. With a certain number of people liking your site this may well boost Google's relative trust in your site.
Pages like privacy, terms and conditions, disclaimers etc, should all be unique in content as well.
In Short, Google Panda is nothing to fear. it's nothing new. You need quality content, quality recommendation that your site is the best and no mistakes in your html that could cause Google to think your are presenting lots of useless duplicate pages to its index.