How to Recover from Google Panda and Penguin Updates

Free Panda Images

The Problem:

In November 2013 leading upholstery fabric & designer wallpaper supplier Fabrics & Papers came to us with loss of rankings and SEO traffic to their site after being hit by one of Google’s updates late in 2012. They saw a 31% decrease in traffic to the site from organic search with some page one rankings falling to pages 3-5 in Google UK.

From further investigation it looked as though the site was actually penalised by one of Google’s Panda updates in May 2013. You can read more about Panda updates here.

What They Did:

Fabrics & Papers looked to remove a lot of the spammy backlinks from their site, getting rid of links that were made when directory links helped SEO rankings. This helped to create a more natural backlink profile that coincides with Google’s guidelines, however, still wasn’t enough to gain them back their keyword rankings and overall authority to the site.

They continued on-going paid search campaigns with a small budget to pick up on sales and leads where they were not ranking well in organic search.

Our Objectives & Aim:

The main aim of the SEO campaign was to increase keyword rankings and traffic back to 2012’s original traffic levels. You can see below the SEO traffic for 2012 Vs. 2013. Although the traffic follows on trend, it was 35% down year on year consistently in 2013.

Yearly Trends

The Technical Issues & Problems Identified:

Our initial SEO strategy and audit helps to identify problems with the existing site as well as optimise the site for new target keyword term opportunities. Below were some of the problems identified on the Fabrics & Papers site which were causing the site to rank low and the actions taken to help fix these issues and regain rankings:

  1. Traffic to the site across all keyword variations and target keywords was lost.
  2. Action Taken: Onsite meta data analysis and re-optimisation of landing pages to include keyword variations identified through keyword research.

  3. The backlink profile to the Upholstery Fabrics & Designer Wallpaper landing pages was hampered by the same anchor-text keyword term linkbuilding causing an unhealthy backlink profile.
  4. Action Taken: Build relevant, high authority links to these pages with other keywords, URL & brand links to diversify the backlink profile.

  5. There were multiple landing pages on the site with duplicate content on most pages. These were more specifically the brand landing pages that made the site rank low for brand keyword terms.
  6. Action Taken: Write dynamic copy for all brand landing pages to ensure that content is unique and relevant on every page.

  7. Some landing pages for the brands were not included within the XML sitemap.
  8. Action Taken: Recommendations for web developers to include these URLs in the XML Sitemap & re-submit to Google Webmaster Tools.

    The Result For Brand On The Site:

    A considerable increase in brand related keyword traffic to the site and brand landing pages.

    A considerable increase in brand related keyword traffic to the site and brand landing pages.

  9. Looking in Webmaster Tools showed 404 errors on the site.

Action Taken: Provided recommendations for web developers to implement.

    Other SEO Tactics Used:

    1. Created onsite guide & landing page recommendations with keywords & subject matter for the client to create new unique content to add to the website.
    2. Provided Meta Data optimisation for the new furniture section added to the site.
    3. Designed a Furniture SEO Strategy to help launch Fabrics & Papers new product range.

    Panda 4.0 (#26) — May 19, 2014

    Google confirmed a major Panda update in May that included both an algorithm update and a data refresh. Officially, about 7.5% of English-language queries were affected. Due to all the work put in to removing the duplicate content and re-optimisation the Fabrics & Papers site significantly benefited from the update. The site gained over 10 number #1 rankings for target keyword terms. Higher than they had ever been before the Google penalty was imposed.

    Continuing on the SEO campaign, we are still seeing even better results. For example, the below table shows the site ranked in position #22 in 2012, when we started work on the campaign, they ranked in position #81. We started to increase the ranking to position #64 which was then helped by the Panda update to rank in position 13. Since then, we have continued work and the site now ranks on page one, the highest it has ever been.

    KeywordRanking 2012 – JULPre-PandaPanda UpdateRanking 2014 – JULCurrent Ranking 2015Change – 2012 Vs 2014
    designer wallpaper228164139+9

    The Traffic Results:

    Traffic to the site took over 2012 traffic figures as we gained back keyword rankings in June & July. We predicted where the traffic might land and hit over our targets from July 2014. They are now back on track with a healthy increase year on year for organic traffic. All traffic to the site is also still up year on year despite no longer using paid advertising.

    Traffic Comparison

    T’s Tips

    1. Check that all the content on your website is unique and not duplicate. If all your content is the same, look to re-write it.
    2. Optimise landing pages for a variety of different keywords. This will ensure you do not get conflicting ranking pages in search which in return could mean your site does not rank as high as it could.
    3. Diversify your backlink profile to include brand, URL and other anchor-text backlinks in order to create a backlink profile Google likes.
    4. Make sure the website is in line with all of Google’s guidelines.
    5. Give your SEO campaign 6-12 months. That’s when you will start to see the real results come in.

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    Category: digital marketing

    About the author: Tara Dulake

    Tara is a Digital Marketing Architect with over 2.5 years experience working at ThoughtShift. She specialises in eCommerce SEO, local SEO & design. Using SEO tactics she has gained page 1 ranking results in Google UK for a number of clients as well as increasing revenue by 99% year on year.

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