Almost six months have passed since last Google Panda update. It remained silent for some time but the web is again inquisitive about the release of next version. Panda 4.1 came with new signals to identify low quality content and hit search engine presence of several domains. Although whole web has already been making noises about Panda refresh/update in 2015 but Google has confirmed nothing as of now. Few websites stated change in their search engine rankings but that too is hearsay. This hustle and bustle is making apprehensions stronger and we too are anticipating Panda 4.2 sooner.
Three things that compel us to expect Panda update in 2015 are as follows:
- Focus of search giant on improving search quality
- Role of content as ruling factor in improving user search
- No Confirmed Google Panda update revealed in last six months
Before next Google Panda update rolls out, let’s review your website and be prepared to combat before it attacks your website. Check following things to ensure your website remains safe from the future Panda attacks.
1. WWW & Non-WWW Website
Does your home page open with more than one URL?
Two different URLs for similar page create duplicity, which is dearly hated by Google search algorithm. You could be the soft target of Panda in next update, if your website has two addresses (like www.abc.com & abc.com).
Using 301 redirection can save your website from the consequences of an algorithm update as it helps crawlers rank a website without getting confused between multiple URLs.
2. Undue User-generated Content
Sites that have too much of user-generated content are on the radar of Google. Delete your forums if Google webmasters tool shows you any message in this regard.
If your website involves too much of user-generated content there is always a scope of spam and violation of content guidelines, especially in the absence of moderator. So either focus on moderating content submitted by users to your site or be prepared to pay the penalty.
3. Duplicate Content Pages
Websites with similar content on two different pages have higher chances to get penalized. Usually ecommerce websites face this issue as one product is featured under several categories (color, size, sale etc.).
The websites that make appropriate use of canonical tag remain safe from URL duplicity. It allows you to make all pages live to users but only one to crawler, and goes perfectly with Google guidelines too.
4. Thin & Scraped Content
Thin content has always been the primary target of Google Panda. Pages that add less or no value by indulging in aggressive keywords stuffing, have inappropriate density or unduly anchor text in content are likely to pay the biggest price.
To avoid the repercussions of thin content, keep focus on quality & avoid keywords stuffing.
Scraped content can be equally ruinous as Google disgusts it. Copying content to multiple websites has always been a punishable act and is likely to be attacked with Panda 4.2 too. Your website could be at risk if it allies with copied or republished content through any platform or network that is indexed by Google. Implanting videos, images of other sites to yours and sharing similar blog posts on various sites are few cases exposed to risks of Google algorithm updates. Sites with affiliate programs are more inclined to get punished as most of the descriptions & reviews used by them also appear on the merchant sites. The simplest solution to shield websites in this regard is to put unique content and delete links that offer scraped content.
5. Website loading Speed Issues
Do you have a slow website? Excessive use of flash, unoptimized images, or internal css files could be the reasons behind web pages that take too much time to load. These on page errors not only attack user experience but prove hurtful to search engine presence too.
The primary goal of all search engine updates is to make user search more precise & valuable. Try fixing the page load errors by avoiding flash and using external css files in order to stay protected from ranking update in 2015.
6. Heavy Advertisement
Websites with too many ads can be at losing end whenever Google rolls out new update. The issue of rampant advertising is quite common among webmasters running after monetization. Google strictly condemns webpages that contain cluster of ads whether they appear in folds or within content. Those who focus on advertising ratio are safe as Google tolerates advertisements as long as they are regulated, well-proportioned & not nastily cluttered.
7. Irrelevant language
Websites showing wrong version of language are not discarded just by users but categorized as unusable by spiders too. This is a common error found with multi-language websites that cater to vast audience. Displaying French content for English users or Spanish content for French users can be the cause of worry as it’s one of the quality signals that Google may consider while releasing algorithm updates. If your website serves to users from different language zones then make sure you have used “lang” tag.
8. Off Topic Pages
This is a rare but certainly punishable act if we talk about Google search engine rankings. The guidelines say one has to offer what user actually looks for while making a search but few websites still try to befool spiders and cover off topic content. Including mobiles shopping choices in page category that is for buying shoes is a ‘big no’.
9. Duplicate Meta Titles and Descriptions
Meta title and descriptions have bigger role in attracting users’ clicks but repetitive and meaningless meta content is risky. Websites with all pages having same meta titles and descriptions can be termed as violation of guidelines. So, webmasters are advised to write appropriate title for every page according to page/product/content & service category also try to create unique descriptions for every page according to titles.
10. User Experience
User experience is the essence of all actions that Google takes in regard of improving its searches. Consequently the websites with sheer high bounce rate, low average time spent by users and other errors that disinterest users like 404 or server errors are bound to be at trailing end. You can avoid these risk factors by keeping a close watch on Google analytic & webmaster tool.
Apply suitable measures to fight algorithm updates after analyzing essential stats like traffic sources, user’s stay on your site & errors that cause users’ to switch. Fix these errors as soon as you can to keep your website protected from Google Panda hit.
Looking at the record of algorithm changes brought by Google till now, we can expect a major Panda update this year. So be prepared for the upcoming twist.