Editor’s note: This post was written by V K Rajagopalan, who has over 30 years of experience in the field of Information Technology. He has worked with multinational companies like KLM, Siemens and Wipro. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is a SAP Consultant certified from SAP, Germany. He is a Director in Paduka Consultants Private Limited that he established in 2006. Over the years, he has become an expert in all aspects of SEO, both online and offline. He utilizes this expertise for his own business as well as his clients. He currently resides in New Delhi, India with his wife and 2 sons.
Is Google Panda still getting you down? Introduced in 2011, this algorithm was designed to lower the rank of low-quality websites, sites with “thin” content, and give users access to higher-quality, more in-depth content. A lot of big-name websites took a major hit and, as the algorithm has been refined over time, Google has caught a lot of websites in its snare. If you think you’ve been caught by the this grizzly beast, here’s how to fight back.
Post More Long-Form, Quality, Content
This is hard. Honestly, this is the single reason 99 percent of websites that got caught in the Google Panda effect will never come back. Not only do you need quality content, you need to adopt the motto that there is “strength in length.” Most webmasters simply do not want to do the work involved to get out of the Panda hole they’re in – not when they learn what really needs to be done.
Sometimes, webmasters just don’t have the writing skills to compete. If that’s you, there’s no easy way to say this: it’s over. Throw in the towel. You’re finished.
If you’re ready to buckle down, and you’ve honed your writing chops, here’s what you need to do.
Fire up Google. Log out of your account if you’re logged in, clear your cache and all website data that might be stored in temp files on your computer. Now, set your location to something very generic, like your country – USA (assuming you’re in the USA). Type in one of your desired keywords.
See what pops up first in the search results. Go to that page and check it out. See if you can pick out what makes it so special. It’s sitting at the #1 spot in Google so it’s obviously doing something right. Now, check out the #2 spot, #3 spot and so on up to #10. Don’t bother going to the second page.
What you’ll find is that each of these pages on the front page has something in common. It might be graphics, graphs, research material, original research, tons of references, a high-quality layout and website design, or something else entirely.
This is what you have to beat. Back up and read that last sentence again. These are the top dogs. Here is your answer right there in front of you. You don’t need Google’s Keyword tool, or any keyword research tool, for that matter. The best pages are right there at the top of the search engine results.
Now, you can use a service like AHREFS.com to see how many backlinks a particular page has. This is helpful in determining just how popular that page is, and what the potential for getting backlinks to a similar page might be.
Take the content that’s ranking #1 and think about how to make it better. For all of the controversy and complaints webmasters lob at Google, the company is still – at the end of the day – all about perceived quality.
If you take the best content out there, and improve it, you’re doing two things.
First, you’re creating a better user experience.
Second, you’re creating content that’s sharable and linkable. How do you know it’s sharable? It’s sitting at number one right now with 100+ Facebook “likes,” 1,000 tweets, and 100s of repins on the images in the post.
Go out and one-up the best content, then promote the heck out of your post and garner as many links as you can.
Promote Your Blog
According to SEO experts like Paduka Consultants, the most important skill you can learn in the online world, after writing, is how to promote your blog. The problem is that promotion is a lot of manual labor, and a lot of blog owners simply give up too soon – before they ever achieve any sort of lasting success.
The secret, if there is one, is to do effective, non-salesy outreach and be persistent. Outreach is usually best done via email or phone. Yep, the phone. Most blog owners are terrified to actually email, much less speak to, a real human being.
But it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Continuing with the example above, you could write a simple email like this:
“Dear blog owner,
I just read your blog post and noticed you linked out to the same article I just discovered last week (name of blog piece that links to the article you found in the #1 spot in Google SERPS). I loved that piece. In fact, I loved it so much, I decided to create a piece with even more information in it. Since you linked to that other piece, maybe you’d want to also include this one as well.
Either way, I hope you enjoy it. Thanks, (your name).”
Send this out to several hundred blog owners who you found via AHREFS that linked to the blog post that’s already ranking, and you’ll eventually get yourself some links.
Fix Those Broken Links
A good plugin for WordPress users is Broken Link Checker. It will scour your website for broken links so that you can fix them. If you’ve got enough links going nowhere, Google looks at this as a trust problem. Broken links tell Google that you don’t really update the site or do good site maintenance. It’s also a bad user experience. Sure, it’s a lot of work to fix all of these, but it’s a simple step that will ultimately help you recover your former glory.