Beating the Google Panda update - How we transformed and brought traffic up to Pre-Panda levels.
16th January 2012

More than a few months ago we were hit with the Google Panda shocker. Overnight our Infertility treatment related website lost over 30-40% of its daily traffic. Although the traffic was still substantial, the loss of the top end traffic did hurt. We immediately went into a damage control mode and made tweaks to the site meta-tags, content and a lot of other things. But it did us no good. We realized that we needed to go in for a complete overhaul.

 So here's the story of what we did and how it worked and hopefully if your site has been affected by Panda you can use this as a template to bring it back up. Even if Panda did not have significant impact on your site, using these lessons will take your site to the next level.

The most significant lesson from the Panda - Is your site of use to the visitor?

It's a simple but profound question. We usually get so caught up in our own development ideas, design tweaks and all the bells & whistles that we lose sight of the very reason we have created this site - to be of use to the visitor so that he/she can give us business. All our study on the Panda update brought us over and over to the same conclusion - make the site more useful.

Tackling Content Discovery - In how many ways does a visitor find information on your site?

We started with modeling the content discovery system of the website i.e. in how many ways can a visitor find the information he/she is looking for? We shortlisted and fixed on 3 methods of content discovery:

  1. Site Search on top
  2. Categorized Content in a left menu
  3. 'Also read' articles and recommended search 'tags' along with each article.  

 We worked hard to make sure all three avenues were uptodate and easy to use. This took a lot of effort as we had to break 8 categories into 26 as well as use a logical script to provide intelligent 'Also read' options to the visitors.

Revising Content - Beefing up existing content, removing duplicates, filling in the gaps.

After content discovery we tackled the actual content itself. The first major job was a cleanup operation - removing duplicates, redundant information and of course broken links. In terms of size the site is moderate i.e. about 600 pages. But due to the technical nature of the information it took quite a bit of doing.

So we got our content writer to review each page with the following mandate

  • Write a fresh intro for each page of the site
  • Write intelligent tags for each page of the site (not the normal SEO kind of tags but more indepth.)
  • Check and remove duplicate and redundant content.

It was a slow and cumbersome task for the copywriter but the end result was a great set of meta-data for each page of the site. More importantly this was of a higher quality than that of normal SEO use.

I want to strongly point out here that this was not undertaken as a normal SEO rewriting exercise which many times barely scrapes the surface of the content. This was in-depth research and writing.

A new paint job with some web 2.0 finished the job in style.

Along with the above content work we redesigned the site to web 2.0 specifications. This helped by making the site faster to load, accessible on mobile devices and also gave a fresh breath of air in terms of colours and fonts. In the new design we went for simplicity over jazz. Although it was counter intuitive we played down the design aspect and played up the content discovery of the site.

 The results speak for themselves - a jump to and above pre-panda levels.

Not only did we reach the pre-panda levels but we also exceeded them by a good 30-40%. The rise was so astonishing that our client could hardly believe it himself (although he was quite happy!). Thanks to his support and patience we managed to pull of a really meaningful change to the site.  We gratefully acknowledge and appreciate  Dr.Malpani for this.

 In conclusion I would like to say that in order to beat the Panda you have to get to basics, forget the tech, forget the design, just focus on one thing only - make it a fruitful experience for the visitor.


About Me

He has been in the web development business for the almost two decades.He is a keen student of marketing and business development and writes regularly on web strategy and other related topics which is read and followed by many every month.

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