With the Penguin update in April, a lot of websites lost their plum spots in search results. SEO forums are still abuzz with discussions on the carnage and webmasters are trying to figure out which update hit their website and how they can get their rankings back.
April was the double blow month. First there was the Panda 3.5 update and then the new Penguin. In fact, if you count the Panda refresh that happened on 27 April, we are looking at 3 major algorithm updates in one single month. Numerous websites have taken a beating, even those who have not apparently engaged in devious SEO practices, but hey, it’s all part of the game, what?
If your website got hit in April, you may be wondering what caused the slide in your ranking, was it Penguin or Panda? Panda is now old news, so a lot of web space has been devoted to Penguin, but that isn’t reason enough to suspect Penguin, your website may very well have been the victim of the Panda wrath.
To fix the problem you must first identify it. It is important to know the differences between both updates.
Panda focuses on high quality content. Think about this from the point of Google, just another poor little profit making enterprise like the rest of us (come on, stretch your imagination, you can do it). Their end customers are the searchers and Google wants to provide them with the highest quality content.
So how do you determine whether you have good content or not? Look at the length of the articles. Go read them. Would a random surfer stay on your site for long? Are you attracting the right people? Look at your bounce rate, the number of pages visited and the average time they stay.
Is Panda your nemesis? If you have a very high bounce rate, little or no community activity and the quality of the content is low, Panda might be the one to blame. Also check your analytics page. If your rankings slipped either on the 19th or the 27th, it could be Panda.
Penguin focuses more on penalizing websites that use shady tactics such as web spam and over optimization.
Over optimization could mean that your content is stuffed with keywords, hidden search terms in your footer or even link building by unnatural means.
According to Google webmaster guidelines, the following relate specifically to poor quality:
- Hidden links or hidden text
- Cloaking, sneaky redirects
- Automated queries to Google
- Keyword stuffing
- Multiple pages, domains or subdomains with duplicate content
- Pages displaying malicious behavior such as phishing, Trojans etc.
- Doorway pages just for search engines
- Affiliate content of no value
If you need to rectify any of the above, then your site might have been hit by Penguin. Also, open your analytics page and check the dates. If the ranking slipped heavily on 24 April, Penguin could possibly be the one to blame.
When you know which update hit you, you can make the most appropriate fixes, else you are just shooting in the dark.