Were You Hit by Panda 3.5?

Apr 27, 2012   //   by Kristi Hines   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  15 Comments

As you are probably well aware of, Google released their latest Panda / webspam algorithm update this week in order to reward high quality sites. What they specifically targeted was “black hat webspam” including keyword stuffing and link schemes. By devaluing sites that participated in these black hat techniques or anything against Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines, they are hoping to provide better user experience for searchers on the web.

Was Your Site Affected

According to Search Engine Land’s Winners & Losers post about sites affected by the latest Panda update, losing sites could be summarized as those which use databases to aggregate information, press portals & aggregators, and heavily templated sites. The top sites that lost the highest percentage of SEO visibility included familiar names like:

  • Similarsites.com
  • Cubestat.com
  • Merchantcircle.com
  • Aboutus.org
  • Digg.com
  • Bloglines.com

So how can you tell if your site was affected? Start watching your Google Analytics, particularly your Organic search traffic.

If you start to see the graph significantly dip after April 24th, then there is a good chance your site was affected.

You might also want to check your Google Webmaster Tools if you have set it up for your websites. Google has been sending notifications to webmasters in the last month about unnatural link activity.

Don’t freak out right away if you have new messages – Webmaster Tools also notifies you if you need a WordPress update!

What to Do If Your Site Was Affected?

So what do you need to do if your site was affected? You’ll need to be on the lookout for two things: over-optimization with your on-site SEO and unnatural, spammy links. Over-optimization usually boils down to keyword stuffing – too many keywords on a page in the title tag, meta description, and within the content. Unnatural, spammy links usually boils down to too much exact match anchor text and links in unnatural places. SEO.com has a great post on red flags to look for in your link portfolio.

If possible, you will want to remove any over-optimization on your website and try to have any spammy links taken down, then contact Google and ask for reconsideration back into their good graces.

How to Prevent Your Site from Getting Penalized

If your site wasn’t affected by the latest update, and you want to keep it from getting penalized in the future, be sure to do some preventative work like making sure your on-site SEO isn’t overly-optimized. Translation: have more quality content than keywords.

Also, don’t participate in unnatural link building tactics including, but not limited to:

  • Over-used anchor text: Yes, it’s ok to use anchor text, but don’t build every single link to best SEO agency. Mix it up with different keyword phrases, your business / website / brand name, and other variations. Remember that the point is to look natural, and Google knows that 500 sites won’t link to the same exact keyword phrase every single time.
  • Spamming: This includes crappy comments, crappy forum posts, and crappy article directories using crappy spun content. Again, all unnatural looking elements.
  • Link exchanges: While it’s OK to link to someone with a similar website and have them link back to you, it’s not OK to link to just anyone’s homepage and have them link back to you on their link exchange, resources, or other sites of interests pages. Especially if those pages on other sites are linking to a ton of different websites that has nothing to do with yours.
  • Paying for links: If you are following a competitor’s backlink trail and buying blogroll links on the same sites they are, then you will start creating a noticeable “pattern” that Google might detect one day. Think about it – if they bust Site A for buying links, and they see that Site B and Site C have links on the same exact sites that Site A has links on, they’ll make the connection.

Was your site (or a favorite of yours) hit by the latest algorithm update? What are you doing to prevent your site from being penalized?

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Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Don't miss her Web Domination Review on Kikolani. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!

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  • Emily says:

    Oh Kristy thanks for your awakening post. The summary of latest action by Google is that you’ll need to follow legal steps. You won’t be stay out of Google’s radar forever. I’m surprised to see well known sites like similarsite.com got penalized. That’s an important alarm for everyone!

    Great post.

  • Mike Escott

    Sound advice but the reason for the drop isn’t always so direct, it could well be that sites that were linking to you and passing high link juice have been hit and therefore those links may have been devalued or even deindexed. Diversifying your backlinks is crucial in any linking strategy.

  • Elena Anne

    I think you if you were drastically affected by Google Panda it is because you are concentrating too much on SEO and not enough on content and advertising and marketing your site.

  • Neil says:

    Great advice here thanks a lot. It is all about balance and keyword stuffing and spun content is certainly not balance.

  • Nicko

    Thanks for the heads up. Doesn’t look like I was affected, phew! =)

  • Ricky says:

    Was my site affected with last Panda (Penguine) update? Yes, it was. I’m still trying to figure out what went wrong. Though, I haven’t followed any shady backlink method, my site has been affected badly by this update.

  • I wasn’t aware of this so I gotta go check it out to see if I was affected. Thx for the detail in your post with easy to follow instructions.

  • Ray says:

    There are a lot of complaints about this update circulating. The overall mood seems to be of disappointment to all out rage. I am following a few threads and people have been sharing some examples of very poor results from this update. Sites with no content, spam, and compromised sites scoring the top 10. I haven’t done extensive research, but given some of the examples I have seen I think they need to make some adjustments.

  • Kate says:

    Google is getting more and more efficient in detecting spam from organic traffic. They may have been some lacks in this version as well, but it will get better and better.

  • Marbella says:

    Hi Kristi,
    I suffered only very Positive of Panda 3.5, it proved that I have been working right all the time in my SEO work. There are no shortcuts in SEO, only a long and honest work.

  • […] the last couple of algorithmic updates have turned things around quite a bit. On the one hand, Google’s Panda is targeting low quality sites (low value for the user, copied content). On the other, Google’s […]

  • mohsin says:

    I think you if you were drastically affected by Google Panda it is because you are concentrating too much on SEO and not enough on content and advertising and marketing your site its very good reveiw.

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  • Jamy Hoster

    Well people who use copy content more then 30% are always hit by google panda I think we need to get inspiration rather then coping that content we like just ideas and make our own experience we are writing.