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Panda Google Algorithm Impact: How To Know If Your Website Was Affected

To identify if your site has been impacted by any of the Panda updates you will need two things:

First, you’ll need to know which date the specific Panda update in mind has occurred. You can get these dates from a number of different places. Go here for a list of the top resources.

And second, analytics (or webmaster tools) data for the website in question.

With a date in mind and analytics data on hand you’re ready to go. Using Google Analytics as our example you’ll want to first put in place a segment to show only the traffic acquired through Google organic searches.

Next you’ll want to make sure you are looking at a date range long enough to establish trends, but short enough to recognize any major drops that occur either on or right near the date of the update. Usually a 3-month range will do.

In this example you can see a website that was impacted by the Panda update that rolled out on April 24th 2011.

Hit By Panda Algorithm Update

Corrective Action To Resolve Panda Algorithm Issues

If you do find that you have been affected by a Panda update the first step toward corrective action is to identify you pain points. You can do this by zeroing in on exactly which pages were impacted most heavily from the update (using Google analytics) and putting each through a test against the following questions:

  1. Is content from this page duplicated either by this website or other websites online?
  2. Is my bounce rate for this page at a higher average than other pages within the domain?
  3. Does this web page have any links passing to it from a site that could be considered a content farm?

As you identify each of these items as potential issues typical forms of corrective action are:

  • Rewriting and revising on page content to be completely unique
  • Utilizing the rel=canonical to help Google determine original sources and weed out duplicate page versions
  • And, establishing new link signals from websites that are high quality in content (typically sites that do not allow self-submitting content are your best source to achieve links from for this purpose)

Penguin Google Algorithm Impact: How To Know If Your Website Was Affected

March and April of 2012 were big months for algorithm updates. Google rolled out 4 major updates within less than 4 weeks of each other.

  • Panda 3.4 on March 23,
  • Panda 3.5 on April 19,
  • Penguin on April 24 and,
  • Panda 3.6 on April 27.

The process to identify whether a website was impacted by the Penguin update is similar to Panda. You will need to know the specific date of the Penguin update in question and utilize analytics to identify if a significant drop in Google organic traffic was realized.

But if you are looking at the original Penguin update, (the one that occurred on April 24, 2012), keep in mind that because of the close proximity of these 4 updates it can be easy to mistake one update for the other.

For example you can see a website here—that for quite some time considered their site hit by Penguin when in fact it was a Panda refresh.

Panda Not Penguin Update

But if you take a look at this example, it is clear this sites’ traffic drop was in direct correlation to the Penguin update.

Hit By Penguin Algorithm Update

Corrective Action To Resolve Penguin Algorithm Issues

Now, if you find that your website has in fact received a drop due to the Penguin update you’ll want to go through the following checklist to determine next steps:

  1. Do the pages that were impacted overuse keywords that we are trying to optimize for? (Now keep in mind there is no exact science for this. For instance, I am not going to tell you that your keyword density should be a specific percentage. Keyword use in areas like titles, headings, image alternate text, and paragraphs should read and feel natural. If you come across an area that uses a keyword or multiple variations of that keyword irregularly—this is likely an issue.)
  2. Does the link anchor text passing to this page majorly fall into 1, 2, 3 or 4 specific keyword phrases? (This should be considered both with links passing to the site from external domains and with links on your domain as well).
  3. Are any links passing to my website part of a link network? (A link network is one where a series of websites are all owned and managed by one party for the purpose of building links. The best ways of identifying link networks are through a comparison of domain IP addresses, commonalities found in web design or site architecture or if they simply identify themselves as a link network).
  4. Were there any major spikes in links acquired to my site recently? (This most commonly occurs when you have either purchased links or a website has linked to you from every page on their domain.)

As you identify one or more of these 4 major areas of harm, common practices for resolution include:

  • Revise on page content and meta data to read clean without keyword stuffing
  • Pursue link revision initiatives to clean up and diversify link anchor text passing to your website.
  • Pursue link extraction initiatives to remove links from networks.
  • Ensure future link acquisition strategies is as normal in trend as possible

In some circumstances a domain can be so badly affected that a rebrand is necessary. Typically this should not be an avenue pursued until all other options are exhausted.

Do you have anything to add, or maybe some additional questions? If so, please comment below.