Are you paying money to an agency or individual to achieve rankings in Google, but the results are not coming? Perhaps you’re stuck in position #7 or #4 or even on page 2 and can’t quite seem to crack that ceiling.
If this is your website, chances are you’re under a penalty. Specifically a ‘Panda’ penalty.
Panda is the name Google gave to its algorithm update several years ago that targets a website’s content. Since then it has undergone several updates, but its purpose remains unchanged – to assess the quality of a website based on its content. There are specific factors Panda looks for as it crawls your site, and if it finds them, it will issue a domain-wide penalty on your site – thus holding it back – in the SERPs.
In order to understand how to remove these penalties, (yes they are removable) it is important to understand Google’s Modus Operandi behind Panda; I.E why it chose to shake up it’s own search results so much.
The bottom line is Google is not a search engine; it’s an advertising agency. Over 90% of it’s enormous revenues comes from it’s paid advertising arm, Google Adwords. The fact that ‘SEOers’ have been able to ‘manipulate’ the organic search results, enabling ‘free traffic’ for webmasters, has caused Google much angst over the years because it takes away from their Adwords client base, and ultimately their bottom line.
Yet it still needs to support the organic component to its search engine, so in an attempt to eliminate the ability to ‘game’ these results, Panda (amoung others algorithm updates) was rolled out.
So, how do you remove these penalties? How do you even know if you’re under a penalty? How long does it take to remove them and is it even worth doing so?
The key to all of these questions lies with your site’s content. Your content must be your own, and must be unique. I.E written by you or for you. It must be written to engage humans, but not keyword loaded. You must link out to other sites (yes, you read that right) and also link internally.
Ensure you have no 404 errors on your site, and issue 301 redirects if necessary to overcome this problem.
Your website should load in under 2 seconds and have no broken links within it.
But perhaps more importantly, it is the hidden ‘junk’ pages within your website that are doing the most damage. These pages are typically ‘thin’ in content and offer no real value to the user, plus they’re probably riddled with duplicate content.
You may not see this and your customers might not even be aware these pages exist, but you can bet your SEO budget that Google has seen these pages, indexed them and is holding back your entire domain from ranking well as a result.
If you remove / fix these problems, you can see immediate results since Google will determine the changes the next time it crawls your site.
If your site has a natural-looking offsite profile, is not over-optimised for anchor text linking to it and is more ‘penalty free’ than your competitors sites, then presto! You’ll start ranking.
A successful website audit is crucial to determining what and where these errors lie, and removing them will drive your marketing budgets further and generate results in far quicker timeframes.
I encourage you to engage your developers or SEOers to conduct a thorough audit on your sites if you’re not seeing results to determine whether you’re being held back by Google itself.