Google’s Panda algorithm filter identifies low-quality webpage content. In the past, Panda has caused some brands to experience as much as a 90 percent loss in their organic search placements [BrightEdge.] Regrettably, websites penalized by Panda cannot recover until the underlying data is refreshed. That said, it has been 10 months since Panda data has been refreshed.
This post will outline 3 areas of your website’s content that will be subject to scrutiny by Google’s Panda filter – namely “thin,” duplicate and “spun” content, and offer proven strategies for a full recovery from a penalty.
1. “Thin” Website Content.
In my experience, websites with “thin” content are primarily motivated by driving users to another website. Landing pages are a great example of this approach. These gateway pages often only provide a small introductory paragraph of mundane text, followed by self-serving affiliate links. This also includes pages with advertisements above the fold, resulting in a top-heavy, page-layout and a very poor image-to-text ratio.
Aside from Lead or Landing pages, Content Farms – such as websites offering a lot of how-to type articles – provide only general information on a wide variety of topics. Because of this diversity, their content is predominantly weak in substance.
The biggest obstacle for these websites is that the quality of the content is not always uniform. This makes it increasingly difficult for them to compete with niche content sites that are making more of an effort to deliver a detailed and concise answer.
Website’s that focused on a specific theme, type or topic of content have repeatedly done well against Panda updates. Websites that consistently make every effort to provide an information-rich experience, that is intentionally optimized around specific topics, will emerge as a proven authority on that particular subject matter.Provide a information-rich experience that is intentionally optimized around specific topics.Click To Tweet
To further improve performance, businesses that use basic on-page SEO and provide a website structure that focuses on providing a content-rich experience centered around subjects their target audience cares most about, will ultimately deliver a better website experience for visitors.
2. Duplicate Content.
Duplicate content is content that either completely matches or is “appreciably similar” to content found elsewhere on the Web. The concern for Google comes when content is deliberately duplicated across multiple domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings, and/or encourage more webpage traffic.
Google believes that when a visitor is delivered much of the same content within their search results, it translates into a very poor user experience,. Therefore, when confronted with duplicate pieces of content, Google will choose which of the multiple versions is most likely to be the original, or the best result.When confronted with duplicate content Google will choose which version is most likely to be the original or best.Click To Tweet
When it comes to duplicate content on your own website, the simplest way to eliminate any issues is to create a 301 redirect from the “duplicate” page to the page with the original content. As well, using the rel=canonical tag will communicate to Google that the page in question should be treated as a copy or duplicate of the original URL.
The word canonical finds its origin in Roman Catholic tradition. It makes reference to a list of sacred books – the canonical Gospels of the New Testament, which were created and accepted as genuine.
You can avoid “thin” and duplicate content troubles by eliminating pages that deliver strikingly similar content. For webpages that communicate much of the same information, you should consider expanding those pages to include distinct, relevant content for each URL. Likewise, you could combine two or more pages into a single page that is highly relevant and much more focused.
If you are syndicating your content to other websites, you must ensure that all links and other authority-relaying metrics are being properly credited to you. The best way to accomplish this is to insist on a link from the syndicated content back to your original article.Syndicating content? Ensure links and other authority-relaying metrics are properly credited to you.Click To Tweet
It can be expected that some syndicating websites may not want to provide a link and potentially drive their traffic to your property. In this case, ask them to apply a noindex meta tag to prevent Google from indexing their version of your content.
3. “Spun” Content.
Generally speaking, “spun” content is the result when text in an original piece of content is replaced with other words; primarily synonyms. The intention of spinning content is to exchanging enough words in the post that it avoids being penalized as duplicate content, but at the same time retains the message conveyed in the original text. The trouble with relying upon “spinning” software to generate content is that it does not recognize proper context, grammar or structure in the phrases it creates. As such, the result is sub-standard quality, and an over-all poor experience for website visitors.
In an effort to avoid the poor quality associated with machine-generated content, business have hired writers to “spin” their content. Albeit this addresses the context/structure concerns, it still has the potential to raise duplicate content issues.
The first introduction of the Panda filter into Google’s algorithm in February 2011 marked the beginning of the end for article spinning as a search engine and content marketing strategy. Yes; nearly half a decade ago.
If you have been “spinning” content for your website, here are 3 ways to prevent a Panda penalty for “spun” content:
- Remove the “spun” content from your website.
- Block Google from indexing webpages with “spun” content.
- Rewrite “spun” content in such a way that it is appreciably better.
The Plan For a Full Panda Recovery.
According to Google it only takes a few pages of poor quality or duplicated content to reduce your website’s performance. Webpages that meet the Panda filter criteria should be immediately removed from your website, blocked from being indexed by Google, or rewritten in such a way that (according to Matt Cutts) they will bring “additional value” to the Web.Recover from a Google Panda update by REMOVING, BLOCKING, or REWRITING poor website content.Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, once Google has initiated a Panda update, it is too late to apply changes that will have any effect during the roll-out period. These updates have a cut-off date and any improvements made after that time will be applied to the following data refresh. That said, you should begin making the necessary changes sooner than later.