October the 14th was a bad day, google rolled out its latest iteration of Panda which first came to light in february this year. To read more about panda then take a look at this article.
Now that’s out of the way I am going to use this post to keep track and notify fellow webmasters what I did before getting hit and what I am doing to try and recover traffic ( which from organic search has dropped 40% ).So lets begin.
Prior To Being Hit – 1/10/2011
So Techieshelp has had this current layout now for over a year, its has worked well but I still wanted to improve on it, however as I was wary that Panda was doing the rounds I have held back on changing to my new layout Template which is by page lines and will eventually add alot more functionality for users. So I decided to make changes to this template and spruce it up. Below is a list of changes made on October the first, bare in mind techieshelp has sailed through all previous iterations of panda.
Menu bar moved to left hand column ( People read left to right) so I thought putting all my latest articles on the left navigation area would help people spot new articles, take a read and help lower bounce rate and keep people on the site.
Added a Questions and Answer Section – I’m trying to make the site more interactive to users.
Changed the background colour of the site – Again just aesthetics but less contrasting so easier on the eye.
As said, all this was done on the 1st of October and I was hit on the 13th/14th.
The Recovery Starts Here 18/10/2011
As I had been fine up until those changes I’m hoping they contributed to the issue, however Ive made a few more changes.
The Navigation bar has returned to the right hand column.
Adsense has been trimmed to now only one unit above the fold.
I have removed non essential plug ins to aid page speed. The site has seen a 2 second page speed increase from this.Hopefully users will see this.
Google+ has gone, yes it was getting clicked and had been on for a few months however I think the speed of it loading was more detrimental and I had yet to see any referrals from people who had plussed a page.
I am increasing internal links between pages.
Ive ran WC3 Validator and got any errors down to just 5, of which i cannot fix as they are beyond my coding skills, never less I fixed over 25 issues.
Finally Page Titles, I have removed the domain name from all page titles and now just run with the standard title of the article.
That’s all for now, this wont be a quick recovery but I will see what future Panda iterations do to the site and will try to improve accordingly.
Ive modified my robots .txt to the below, I don’t want google spidering and indexing things it does not need to or may class as thin content.
Ive have now got the W3c Validation errors down to 0. Fingers crossed that helps. I have also started increasing the detail of the problems on each article. This may take a week or so to complete.
OK, so MOST of the articles have had the problems re-wrote now, google has acknowledged in webmaster tools that the website is now loading almost twice as quick but no sign of a recovery. On top of this google is sending RUBBISH traffic, I am getting traffic for keywords that are almost unrelated to the site so bounce rate is taking a beating. I do now have 11 new articles to put up on the site but struggling for motivation at the minute however they will be up next week.
November 19th Panda Update
Google announced via twitter that there was a small panda update on the 19th of novemeber, on the same day I removed all amazon affiliate shops. Since this date im seeing a 20% increase in traffic, I shall continue to monitor this over the next week and post any “panda flux” which Matt Cutts says can continue after a week and panda updates.
Still no recovery but the fight goes on, ive change how archiving is indexed by spiders setting them to no follow. Im wondering if this was being classed as duplicate content. Starting to run out of ideas…..toying with a full re-write in the new year and finally putting the new layout on…EEEEEK.
Well, I did it. Ive redid the whole sites layout with a new theme. Its a lot cleaner. This is my last change on the site, I will give it 3 months now to settle. Happy Christmas.
Success!!, I can confirm that today I have seen a boost of 20% extra traffic the site appears to be recovering from google panda! Over the next day or day or so ill monitor google organic traffic and keep you updated. I’m also noticing referral traffic from other sites up also, Im guessing they seem to be recovering also. Maybe this could be seasonal, we shall see.
Latest iteration of panda announced by google on the 23rd of march 2012
If you have been hit, please take the time to post below ( you do not have to register ) and state what steps you are taking to recover..