Back in February, I went undercover in the animal kingdom to investigate pandas and penguins in their natural habitat: the internet. Of course, I’m talking about Panda and Penguin, Google’s key algorithms that determine whether a website pops or flops in the search engine results. In that blog post, we explored the penalties these algorithms dish out to websites.
Today, let’s talk about what to do after Panda or Penguin has struck. Here’s how to recover from a Google penalty.
Dealing With Panda: Content Issues
If you’ve incurred the wrath of Panda, there’s a good chance your website’s content isn’t up to scratch.
Firstly, eliminate any cases of keyword stuffing. If you have a 400-word page with the same keyword repeated 20 times, Google ain’t going to be happy about it. And neither will anyone who clicks on your website looking for valuable information. Imagine eating at a restaurant where the waiters exclaim “best chicken parmigiana in Brisbane!” every time they walk by. That’s what keyword stuffing feels like – and it’s not cool.
Next, let’s make sure your website’s content is original. This means you haven’t copied and pasted any pages from a competitor’s website (or perhaps a supplier’s, in some cases). There are plenty of useful online tools for checking this – some even allow you to check website pages in bulk. We use Copyscape, but feel free to shop around and find a duplication checker that appeals to you.
One more thing about content and then we’ll move on, I promise. The words on your website should provide meaningful value to people who read them. Sure, a Google robot isn’t going to read your blog post about the future of clean energy, sit back with a smile and shout “yes, yes, good show!” But if real people do this, Google will notice (not the sitting back with a smile part, but they will see relevant stats like time spent on page and clicks through to other pages). The positive data from people enjoying your content says, “Hey, Google. Listen up. When people click on this page they like it. Maybe they even love it. You should help other people find this page and spread the love.”
Solution: Whether your existing content is stuffed with keywords, plagued by plagiarism or empty of value, the answer is rewriting. There’s no escaping it: creating good content takes time and effort. But that’s what Panda wants, and it’s in your best interest to keep Panda happy. (PS. You can always call in for some extra help from our content writers.)
More Panda Problems To Fix
So you’ve taken a beating from Panda but you reckon your website content is fine. There are a couple of other issues that might be the cause of your penalty:
- Schema Mark-Up: If you have schema mark-up on your website, make sure this is set up correctly.
- Duplicate Pages: Having 3 pages all promoting your brand new product can only be a good thing, right? Wrong.
- Canonical Tags and 301 Redirects: Use them as necessary. (Yep, it’s that simple. If these words mean nothing to you, our SEO jargon blog post will help.)
- Hidden Content: If Google can see it but people can’t, it’s likely to cause some Panda problems. Delete it or reveal it (depending on whether it’s valuable or not).
Dealing With Penguin: Link Issues
Been pecked by Penguin? It’s time to review your backlink profile (i.e. links from around the web that lead back to your website).
The main thing to do here is to remove any links that Google might consider low-quality. For example, this would typically include links that:
- Look spammy
- Are irrelevant to your business
- Have obviously been bought.
Even if a link is high-quality and relevant to your website, you may still need to tweak it. Case in point: exact-match anchor text should generally be avoided. If any of the links in your backlink profile have been done through exact-match keywords, you should contact the external webmaster and request that they change this to a branded hyperlink.
Similarly, you will need to get in touch with the external webmaster for any links you want removed. If you have no luck this way, the backup option is performing a manual disavow (something you can easily do using Google’s Disavow Tool).
Of course, if you have a professional digital agency working for you, you won’t need to DIY your Google penalty resolving. If you’ve tried everything to appease Panda and Penguin but they just aren’t having it, feel free to get in touch. Our premium fish and bamboo will have them happy again in no time.