Recovering from the Panda

Now that we’re almost a month past Google’s Panda 4.0 update, folks are posting fast a furious about how to recover sites that were affected. Well, if you listen to Google (particularly Matt Cutts of Google), and we’re going to assume for a moment that we believe what they’re telling up, then the Panda 4.0 update was all about website and page quality.

Okay, so for the sake of argument, let’s take them at their word. If Google sank your rankings like the Titanic hitting an iceberg, then it was about the quality of content on one or more pages of your website. You should be looking through the content of your site and first determine whether it’s original or not. There are some good tools for this, but Copyscape is the one that I always use for this purpose.

Once you’ve done this, you may find that Copyscape shows that some, or maybe most or all, of your content isn’t 100% original. So now what do you do? Depending on whom you ask, you may be told that anything over 80% unique content, and you’re good to go. My response to this is NO WAY! With Google cracking down more and more on non-unique content (and don’t forget, that’s what Panda 4.0 was in part), unless your content is 100% unique, you will get slapped somewhere along the way, so why even risk it. Go for 100% unique content from the start.

No, what if you’re looking at content that you paid for? I would first be a little upset at the author, but then again, it’s your job to make sure your hired authors aren’t plagiarizing content they find on the internet. So in the end, it’s just as much your fault as it is theirs. If you had the content checked previously and you KNOW with 100% certainty that your content was original when you received it, it’s likely that others are plagiarizing your content. While not easily fixed, you may have some luck by contacting the owners of the websites to let them know. If you paid for the content, it’s yours. Many will be glad that you have informed them of this type of issue as they likely didn’t know. You will even see many individuals remove such content.

Let’s assume that you’ve done all this and wondering what’s next. One option is to have the content on the page(s) rewritten. It’s not difficult to find writers who are willing to rewrite content for you and ensure that it passes Copyscape or other plagiarism software. The cost generally isn’t that expensive at around $5 US per article.

Now, the final item that Google is using to penalize sites in this latest update is quality. Let’s be honest, you know whether you have poor quality content on your site or not. If it’s difficult to read, or worse, it’s poor quality. Many times content writers will use software to generate these articles. I’ve use a lot of different types of software that do this, and I’ve yet to see one that did it well enough that a native speaker can’t tell that something’s wrong. Don’t’ get me wrong, some are pretty good, so long as a Human reads the article and corrects the mistakes. But out of the chute, it can be abysmal.

If this is you, and you’re looking at poor quality content, sorry to tell you, you need to suck it up and fix it. Otherwise, your site will sit in “rank nowheresville” from now on. If you only have one or two articles that you KNOW are crap, dump them and have them rewritten later. Why you ask? It’s because the new Panda 4.0 update doesn’t just drop the rankings of a single page, oh no, it will drop the rankings of the ENTIRE SITE! So drop those bad articles like a hot potato, then fix and repost them. Otherwise you’re harming your entire domain due to your stubbornness and being a cheap skate!

Also, don’t forget to hang in there. Google typically performs a Panda refresh pretty much every month. Given that we’re up against the next refresh, it will be very interesting to see whether we see reports of sites regaining some or all of their rankings.