The initial Google Panda update hit at the end of February and it took out tons of websites. Luckily, my websites escaped unscathed, and I breathed a huge sign of relief.
Unfortunately, this was just the first of many Google Panda updates. In April, when Panda Update 2.0 struck, I was not so lucky. One of my most profitable sites got hit hard, which put a big dent in my earnings.
Which was surprising, since it was an aged site, with all unique and quality content. Plus, it had good user engagement with lots of real, blog comments.
Take a look my Clicky traffic stats from that time period:
April 10th: 508 visitors
April 11th: 181 visitors
April 12th: 69 visitors
Basically, I had just lost 86% of my traffic overnight. The site was earning around $200-$250 a day so it really hurt to lose a good chunk of this income. I was still ranked decently for quite a few of my keywords. It was just that the keywords that were driving the majority of traffic to my site had dropped out of the top 100 completely.
I did a variety of things to attempt to recover from the loss. I started added new content to the site, I removed my Google Adsense Ads, and I tried fixing broken links on the site.
And it worked…kind of. My four highest traffic keywords had returned to their original rankings, and traffic increased accordingly. (Note: I now attribute most of this to the newly added content as I later put back my Adsense ads with no negative effect)
Unfortunately, my two most important money keywords did not return. So while my traffic was almost back to normal, my earnings from the site were still way lower than before.
I went into link building mode and built hundreds of additional backlinks for these keywords, but nothing seemed to help. After a couple of weeks, these two keywords continued to remain outside of the Top 100 search results.
I felt defeated by Google Panda, and I pretty much gave up. Why keep building backlinks if I wasn’t seeing any results?
Here were my rankings for keyword 1 from January till the beginning of August. My rankings for this keyword ranged from a high of #4 to a low of #12 before dropping out of the top 100. You’ll notice that it did randomly return for a week or so before it dropped off again for good.
And here were the rankings for keyword 2 from the same time period. For this keyword, my rankings ranged from #5 to #15 before disappearing.
Panda Update Recovery
Fast forward to a month ago, when I decided to rekindle my efforts and try to get these two keywords ranking again. I did some research on some other Google Panda articles to see if there were any Panda update recovery strategies I could try. One common theme that I got from my research was that Google was placing an increasing emphasis on ranking quality content.
Of course, the term quality content is pretty subjective. But Google did publish their guidelines awhile back on building high quality sites. So I took some notes from this article, and started evaluating of my own content.
If you look at the two pages that I was trying to rank for, they were pretty decent quality wise. Both were review articles about major brands in my niche’s space. Each had around 500 words of original content and written by a native English speaker.
But, there was definitely room for improvement.
First I started with keyword 1. I went back and revised my review article and updated it to be more current. This resulted in the addition of a couple of new paragraphs to the article and bumped up the word count to 750 words or so. I’m not talking about fluff content to pad my word count either, but good high quality work that added value to my review.
In addition, I added 3-4 screenshots to my review, while also making sure to include my keyword in the ALT tag of each image. Adding these extra images really helped I think. Not only does Google love content like images (and video), but your readers will as well. Win-win, right?
Lastly, I spent a couple of days doing some link building to my new, improved content.
And guess what? Just 2 weeks later, my rankings for keyword 1 reappeared.
With the added confidence that I might be on to something, I repeated the same process for keyword 2 and improved the quality of the second review article as well. This time I saw results even faster as it took only 3 days for my rankings to reappear after my changes.
After more than 3 months out of the top 100, both keywords are now back in top 20. So far the rankings have held steady for now, so I’m reasonably confident at this point they are back to stay. And most importantly, my income from these keywords has returned as well.
While it’s hard to draw conclusions from a small sample size like this, I hope you guys got some value out of this case study. Personally, I’m very excited with these results I got, and it’s great to know that it is possible to recover from the Google Panda update.
In this post Panda world, quality content does matter. Combine solid link building strategies with good quality content and I’m convinced that your rankings will start to improve.
What do you think of my results? Please leave your comments below.