Google Panda 4.2: Recovery Tips

This month sees another Google Panda update – the first in over 10 months. But version 4.2 is no ordinary Panda, because Google has once again changed the way it updates the search algorithm.

The first Google Panda update was rolled out over a period of a week or two in February 2011, and those that followed were updated in a similar fashion. This all changed in March 2013, when Google announced that the Panda algorithm was to be integrated into the main search algorithm and therefore updates would be effective almost immediately.

This was good news for website owners, as once again it was possible to make positive changes to the content of a website and see quick results. However, the latest Panda update will roll out over a period of several months, according to Google.

So far, few people have reported any Panda-related changes to their Google search referrals, which is as expected for such a slow change.

2%–3% of English language queries

Google has suggested that this update will affect around 2% to 3% of English language queries, which has the potential to be a massive change. What do we know about Panda 4.2? Why has Google needed to make such a big update now? This is the 28th Panda update – surely Google must have optimized this feature of the search engine by now?

What is new?

Google Panda is still a site-wide penalty that examines all of a website’s pages to determine the overall quality of a site. A few thin pages will do no harm, but a website that has hundreds or thousands of empty, thin or duplicate pages will very likely experience a drop in search engine referrals.

When the first Google Panda updates were released, many websites experienced dramatic falls in search referrals, often losing as much as 90% of all search engine traffic. In most cases, the problem was an abundance of thin pages – usually user generated profile pages and empty product pages. Deleting such pages would often lead to a Panda recovery.

For a while Panda took a back seat while Google focussed largely on Penguin, the web-spam algorithm. Now that Penguin has also been integrated into the main algorithm it seems Google is returning refocusing on on-site quality factors.

Google has made several specific updates in the last year, all of which point to quality. Google has been promoted secure sites, mobile friendly sites and has recently taking a stance against sites that display aggressive pop-ups.

The latest Panda update may simply be incorporating some of these newer quality signals into the main Panda algorithm.

How does this affect your site?

To protect your website from Google Panda you need to focus on building a quality site. This means ensuring that website code and architecture is clean to prevent thin and duplicate content pages, and also ensuring that the quality of content is high. To prevent Panda impacting your search positions, or to recover from being hit by Panda, you need to tackle these three areas:

Good web design

In this context, good web design refers to the structure and code of a website. Poorly built websites can cause duplicate and thin content issues that are interpreted by Google as being deliberately spammy.

For example, some content management systems create dynamic pages using parameters, which can be crawled and indexed by Google. Although there are ways to patch problems using Search Console, it is always best to resolve the problems by cleaning up website code and architecture.

Removal of thin content pages

Any pages that serve no real purpose should be removed. Empty pages are common in many older eCommerce websites – a product line is removed, or just out of stock, and the result is a content page with little more than a title.

Another common problem are profile pages, which are created by website members but contain no unique information. A good CMS will ensure that all of these pages are set to noindex, but unfortunately, many are not. This problem is made worse when members are allowed to add a link back to their own website in profiles – some Drupal community websites have over 100,000 profile pages that have been created by drive-by-spammers – and sites like these are affected by Panda.

Addition of quality content

Creating content-rich pages, with excellent copy and images, is a great way to ward off the dreaded Panda. Some people believe that Panda not only identifies low quality content, but also identifies when there is a lack of engagement on a page. Panda 4.0 was thought to factor user engagement – and Glenn Gabe reported on Search Engine Watch that improving user engagement can reduce the effect of Panda on a website.

A website that experiences a drop in search referrals following a Panda update can often be recovered by technical SEO experts and content managers, who together will improve site architecture and site quality. This is also why so many people are now using WordPress to run their business websites – WordPress provides a clean platform that allows owners to share quality content with ease.

If your website has been affected by the recent Panda update, contact FSE Online today to discuss your recovery package.

Will Changing Hosts Affect Search Rankings?

A common question in the SEOChat forums is whether moving your site or changing hosts will affect your SEO rankings and position in the serps.

If everything were exactly the same, moving your site between identical servers should not impact your search engine positions if the move is done correctly. But everything is never exactly the same.

Each hosting company has different hardware, networks, versions of server code, and configurations. How quickly your site loads is important. The faster you can make it, and the more reliable your hosting, the higher you will rank. Factors that impact page load time are:

  • Speed of the server
  • Demand on the server (how many sites with how much traffic)
  • Distance from the end user (the person looking for your site)
Using a CDN can greatly speed up your download times by duplicating the most often requested content on your site across multiple servers. Load balancing and failover speeds up your site and also ensures there is no downtime.

Watch Your Downtime

Extended downtime can definitely negatively impact your rankings on Google and other search engines, so choosing a reliable hosting company is essential to your success.

CDNs also provide serious security, which ensure your site is far less likely to get hacked. Lengthy outages recovering from damage hackers do can can largely be avoided.

Be sure to choose a CDN known for security as some focus more on page load speed while others focus on both.

Speed Up Download Time

If you are serious about getting your site to load faster, start with these tips. And do note the links to additional information at the bottom of that post. There are some simple things every site owner should know. For example:
  • Your site should be hosted on a server in the country whose audience you most want to reach. See Server Location as a Local Ranking Factor for details.
  • Other sites on a shared server can negatively impact your search engine positions, so choose carefully and know what other sites are on the same server with you. Use this lookup tool to find out.
How moving your site can impact your search rankings can be a complex question, but here is a good video that explains some of the variables: Video Highlights:
  • Changing servers CAN impact your rankings
  • If your site is still identical, the main concern is other poor quality sites on a shared server
  • Switching between content management systems (between Drupal or Blogger to WordPress for example) will change your URLs and directories; this can definitely cause major issues if not done correctly
  • Be sure to redirect any URLs that change so you don’t lose the value of those incoming links
If you’re not happy with your current hosting company, use this guide to moving your site. One common mistake is to take down your existing site before you’ve tested the new one.

Use a Test Site When Moving

An expert tech should leave your existing site up and load a duplicate copy of it onto the new server. That new copy should be checked over and tested to ensure it is working fine and has no issues BEFORE you re-point the DNS servers to the new location.

Another useful tip is to shorten the caching time on your existing site well before you start the move. This will reduce the amount of time it takes for all your users to see the site at the new location.

Whether changing hosts affects your search rankings will depend upon the quality of the move. If everything is done correctly, there may be a temporary drop in search rankings, but it will quickly recover.

How to Promote Your eBook Using Social Media

Writing a ebook is no easy task, requiring that lots of time, effort and inspiration, but there is no better feeling than wrapping up your own epic story and preparing it for the rest of the world to read and enjoy.

When it comes to delivering your ebook in ebook format, you’ll find yourself with many options to promote and distribute it; the Internet puts the world at your fingertips if only you know how to tackle and leverage it.

Thankfully for all of the ebook writers out there, social media brings people together and provides the tools that you need to easily get the word about your work out to the masses, helping you to generate interest, fans, and, ultimately, sales.

Here are five easy ways to promote your ebook using social media:

1. Create Informative, Compelling Profiles

Once you’ve determined the networks that you want to tackle, with the giants like Facebook and Twitter almost certainly among them, the first step in introducing your ebook to the world is to create informative profiles that not only help readers to quickly and easily understand what your story is about and what it has to offer them, but also contain the kind of tidbits that make your ebook truly compelling.

The method for achieving this will vary depending on the profile; for example, Twitter allows you a very limited amount of room to describe yourself and your product, while Facebook gives you much more freedom and space. With that in mind, you’ll need to work with what you’re presented with as you create your profiles, always finding that delicate informational balance that will create the interest that you need to inspire sales.

2. Be Active, Stay Active

With informative profiles online and new fans beginning to find and follow you, the time has come to focus on the true purpose of social media: engaging with real, live people.

To this end, take a few minutes each day to add content to your pages, answer questions, involve yourself on other similar pages, and generally present yourself as a living, breather author instead of a mere ebook-selling robot.

The truth is, you’ll be surprised at just how little effort it takes to draw people into your web of imagination. One of the most prevalent myths about social media marketing, whether for an ebook or any other product or service, is that it takes copious amounts of time to stay engaged enough to make good things happen, but that simply isn’t true. A little effort goes a long way, and your fans and followers will appreciate every minute of it.

3. Find Influencers to Help Get the Word Out

Influencer marketing is the fastest way to see the actual results. Get just one influential Twitter user tweet out your book offer: And you’ll see dozens of leads coming in within just a few seconds.

Influencers may add the powerful social media context to your book and your brand and get you those needed leads and publicity.

The trick is engaging those influencers.

Ego-bait is one of the most efficient ways to attract those influencers. You can go as far as getting those influencers contribute to your eBook to later engage them in promoting it.

Featured tool

You can also use influencer connection platforms like Tomoson to find influential users across many social media platforms. Tomoson supports

You can specify a minimum number of followers required to make an offer for your project. It saves time and really helps you find your core influencers to start with:

Tomoson

4. Add Multimedia to Your Bag of Tricks

As a writer, it’s likely that you enjoy and relate to words more than any other informational medium, but don’t let that perfectly reasonable prejudice allow you to overlook the power of multimedia to catch attention and drive clicks on the web.

By its very nature, social media platforms tend to present information in small, easily digestible packages, beckoning users to follow through with a click if they want to learn more. With millions of these packages floating around at any given time, though, it can be very easy to have your particular message get lost in the mix.

In order to draw even more attention to yourself and your masterpiece, consider leveraging multimedia like unique artwork, related photography, and trailer videos to help to capture the attention of your social media visitors.

Featured tool

Here’s a huge collection of visual marketing tools to use to create and market your images.

visual marketing tools

5. Continue to Engage Your Fans and Followers

Even once you’ve got well-aged profiles online, full of content and teaming with new followers, the trick to continued success is to continue to personally engage and contribute every single day.

Besides giving your ebook the dedication it deserves after months spent writing, maintaining a well-liked social media presence will also set you up for future success as you continue to forge your writing career.

And there is a sequel coming… isn’t there?