Panda-Specific SEO Emergency Plan
Google is slowly rolling out a new update to its Panda algorithm. Don't panic... stay calm, it's going to be OK (probably).
Most websites will be clearly in the safe zone. The new Panda algorithm will feature many of the same characteristics as the old, using many familiar signals (although not exact, of course) but focusing in on those sites with "thin" content (according to various reports on SEO forums).
Google UK's Webmaster Trends Analyst Pierre Far posted on Google+ last week that the algorithm update should be compete sometime this week and that between 3-5 percent of queries will be affected.
"Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely," said Google's Far. "This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice."
That's good news if you've done all the right things (and managed to get in and stay in the good graces of Google). If not, there are a few suggestions once the rollout is complete (and the data starts rolling in) if your site was affected by this latest Panda update - call it your SEO emergency plan for sites affected by the latest Panda algorithm:
Head straight to your analytics system to assess impact. Visitor and session metrics are the first clue if the updated algorithm has affected your site position- and that could be higher or lower. Visitor data (from the organic channel) shows the impact in volume - e.g. more visitors would be a good sign - while session data is an indicator of traffic health or quality (are we ranking for search terms and phrases that lead to greater interaction and more conversions?).
Sanitize presence to neutralize. A new index isn't meant to penalize, it's meant to reward those that do something well. If your SEO efforts and focus are unrewarding, chances are there is some fundamental flaw in architecture or experience that is negatively influencing your website pages' position on the SERPs. The sooner the problem is neutralized, the sooner page ranks return to normal or improved levels. Remove or rework pages which have been affected and identify any technical bottlenecks that may be causing trouble.
Develop Presence to counter. The best defense is a good offense. What characteristics do websites ranking in your vertical carry? Identifying what's likely being rewarded on competing sites/pages positions your digital presence to achieve the same result. If this update really has something to do with removing/reducing the thin, low-quality content sites, give attention to the depth and quality of content available on your website and you'll be on the fast track to higher positions on the search results pages.