Between February 2011 to May 2011 Google has implemented Panda/Farmer update across all English Speaking Countries of the World. This was a major search engine algorithmic change that affected several websites; good and the bad. During this time period Google has implemented several algorithmic changes other than Panda and they still continue to tweak their system to ensure that good websites are not affected.
What type of websites got affected?
1. The majority of websites that got affected negatively were content farms or had substantial amount of duplicate/syndicated content.
- This can happen if you were coping content from other websites/feeds, using spinned articles, using services of cheap writers, syndicating content of your website to article directories etc. The solution of this problem is to delete those articles from your website. And if you can’t write your own content or hire good writers then you need to give up blogging.
- This can also happen if your content was copied by other websites or people copied your article and posted it as answer to a problem on websites like yahoo answers etc. The solution to this problem is to send DMCA complaints about such URLs to Google. You can do this here.
- For people having article directories, this update has come as a big negative and there is little hope left for smaller players. Even the likes of ezinearticles.com, buzzle.com etc are feeling the heat. After this update buzzle.com is not accepting articles with thirdparty links and they accept only unique articles. Ezinearticles.com has also started declining majority of articles submitted to them and they are now watching carefully not to provide backlinks to new websites that have little content.
2. The backlink profile of your website got affected due to penalties placed on websites linking to you. Panda update has affected many websites and if you were getting backlinks from them they will no longer be counted and hence your websites may suffer a drop.
- If your website’s content was being used by other websites and they were providing a backlink to your websites, it would have added to authority of your websites till few months back but not anymore. The value of such links is devalued and so, there is a drop in number of good backlinks to your website and hence a drop in rankings. The solution to this problem is to build fresh, quality backlinks.
- If your were getting majority of backlinks to your websites from article directories and social bookmarking websites then the value of these links has decreased and so you are seeing a drop.
3. Websites with high bounce rate and more ads than content.
- Google maybe penalizing websites that have lots of ads at “Above the Fold” area of websites. The ads type include adsense ads, affiliate banners, and even text ads like infolinks. I know of few recent cases where even adwords accounts were banned because Google did not want to promote such websites giving reason that it results in poor user experience. So, if google can ban adwords accounts for this reason then it must be penalizing websites that have more ads than content.
- Also, placing several ads above the fold results in higher bounce rate and thus can harm your website’s ranking. Avoid placing ads directly under title of articles.
- When placing ads on your website, be very careful about the area it covers. General rule is that the area covered by content should be more than the area covered by ads. Please note that header image, category widget in sidebar, header navigation, etc don’t count as content.
4. Google now favoring websites that have detailed articles with in-depth research. So, if a website has several articles but each article is not over 100 to 150 words then such websites have poor chance of ranking well in search results. This has affected many e-commerce websites where product descriptions are usually short (and usually duplicate). The number of articles and variety of topics covered (within the niche of blog) also matter.
And hey, if you are seeing a drop it may not be due to panda at all!.. There could be several other reasons!