As an SEO director at a large privately owned marketing…
Symptoms of Panda Filter Penalty and Strategy to Escape the Filter
I enjoy giving free SEO consultation and advice. The following conversation string is copied out of emails between myself and the www.rocknrolltv.net website owner who filled out the BlendSEO contact form because she abruptly lost rankings for her blog. Per the website owner’s request, I have omitted her name throughout the conversation.
The unifying theme you can learn from this conversation is that rich, unique content is essential for organic search engine visibility. Content is what the search engines rank. If you have content, optimization is a matter of finessing and organizing the content. As you read below, the ranking problem is due to her website being caught by the PANDA filter. After comparing competitors and with an understanding of what degree of thin or duplicate content trips the PANDA filter, the proposed solution is based on content. There are some great SEO tips in there as well.
I’m interested in possibly hiring your services to help me with our site. We seem to be hitting some penalties with Google. Our site is a music news video show with affiliates. The affiliates give us coupon codes which we have to push. Several of the promo code pages have slipped drastically in the Google rankings and I’m not sure why. I used to be #6 or #7 for “4inkjets coupon code” .. now I am down around #80 or so. This has happened with a few important keywords to me and my income! Please let me know how you work and if you think this is fixable.
Greg at BlendSEO:
Hello [website owner]
You may have either been penalized by the Panda filter, or other competitive coupon websites may have popped up around you crowding you out of top rankings. Do you have access to ranking and/or traffic data? I see you have the Google Analytics code on your site. Did you lose rankings and organic search traffic on a single day or gradually over time? If on a single day, what date? Panda filters were run in January and then approximately every 3-7 weeks afterward. We are currently due for another one any day now.
My first impression is that you have a WordPress blog where the main theme of the content is centered around celebrity news. The coupon code appears to be “thin” content compared to the news content. The other sites ranking on page 1 of Google are completely themed about coupons/promo codes. One initiative of the Panda filter is to rank websites where the site as a whole is a quality resource for the search query. You may have read that one goal for the Panda filter is to eliminate affiliate websites with “thin” content. You don’t really fall in the category of a site with thin content, except in the area of coupon codes. For example, there is a link in you navigation to a “Promo Codes” page that has no content (http://www.rocknrolltv.net/promo-codes). There is not a real strong connection between printer ink, coupon codes and celebrities, but you may be able to gain back some rankings if you start blogging about coupon codes and building out that area of content.
Wow. This is VERY informative. Thank you! I am formulating a plan of attack and repair now.
Yes, the loss in rankings happened suddenly. It happened twice which I thought was odd. My competitors with video shows and affiliates have also dropped so what you are saying in regards to thin content is making sense. Although these guys seem to be holding up better than the rest of us: www.emmaandpete.com
But all of us have dropped from the top ten as there used to be a little gang of us battling it out. LOL. (all content producers for the same network!)
Good point on the promo codes page. I shall remedy that.
I do have another site or two that I could use just for the coupon codes. www.thesecouponswork.com It is a little out of date but I could update all of the codes on there and build out the pages etc. And then blog regularly on it to keep things rolling etc etc.
Would you agree that the coupon site would be a better approach and in the meantime, remove dupe content and maybe… start blogging about coupons on the rock n roll tv site? Sort of a two pronged approach?
I appreciate your time with this and if you have time to answer. Great. If not, that’s cool too. It’s hard to figure this stuff out when you’re a video producer/musician first and trying to do SEO the best I can … second! ha ha!
Greg at BlendSEO:
I think the strategy looks good.
Emmaandpete.com has a good amount of content related to the coupons as “Emma’s Blog” (http://www.emmaandpete.com/emma) seems to focus on it completely. Also, “Pete’s blog” has tons of really long posts with tons of copy about whatever he seems to be interested in…as well as “Cooper Acres” also has tons of text about it. All this text content makes for very rich content. Videos are great for users who watch them, though they only provide as much search engine friendly content as an image. Those sections of Emmaandpete.com appear to be categories that get pulled into the blog loop on the homepage. With all that on-topic content mixed with other rich content, I’m not surprised they did NOT get penalized for thin content.
A good rule of thumb for length of text on a post is 200 words.
Also, I notice each of your posts has a smattering of content about several different unrelated affiliates. You might have better luck if each post only talks about one affiliate, and goes a little more in depth talking about that affiliate within the post. Working the subject matter of one affiliate into a post should give that post a more unified and stronger theme of its subject matter. Using a couple links from that tighter themed post back to your affiliate landing page will carry more weight than one link from a loosely related post that also links to several other unrelated landing pages.
and the one midway down the homepage:
If you do this, and narrow your post content to one affiliate per post, I would not be surprised if you bounce back up the next time the Panda filter is run (it has been run about every 4-5 weeks).
Increase Relevance to Improve SEO
You can take the themes a step further by coming up with a way of categorizing your content so that only certain affiliates are pushed with certain types of rockers. For example if you only push diamond promo codes in articles that mention Aerosmith. Or if you don’t write about Aerosmith frequently you could choose some other way of categorizing the rockers like old school rockers, younger pop stars, older pop stars, etc. Then divide up the affiliates and assign them each to one of these categories. When a post falls into a category, only mention those affiliates assigned to that category. If you consistently associate affiliate content with a type of rocker content, Google will see the pattern and associate them together. As long as you use a logical way to categorize the rockers, Google has probably seen that association before among all the web content in the world.
Another way of building an association between the affiliate content and the rocker content might be to take a literal connection. For example, pushing the 4inkjets in a post about a rocker who has a lot of tattoos, pushing ice/diamonds in a post about a rocker that mentions their jewelry, push match.com in an article that discusses someone’s dating life, etc.
The more consistent you are in presenting the information, the more likely Google is to recognize a pattern in your content. This will strengthen the relevance of your content around your rockers and affiliate related content. Google’s goal is to serve up relevant content for search queries. So keeping the affiliate keywords relevant to your main content will help your rank better for your affiliate content.
Attract Relevant Inbound Links
This consistency between your affiliate content and main content will also help leverage your inbound links. My guess is that your posts naturally receive links because of the video content and rocker news content. The strongest inbound links have meaningful anchor text related to your post content…and those links come from pages that are related to your post content. Aligning your affiliate content with your rocker post content also aligns it with your most powerful inbound links.
This is incredibly helpful, Greg.
WOW! Thank you so much for answering in great detail. You obviously know what you’re doing and everything you have written makes alot of sense!
I will remove those ads.
What about the 4×4 squares on the side. Do you think maybe keeping two of them is okay? Does it matter if they link offsite to a ‘conversion’ page rather than in the site?
Greg at BlendSEO:
I see you removed 2 of them. It is fine if they link off site, but you need to have rel=”nofollow” in the link code. Not a huge deal, but Google can devalue your links if you allow ads to pass PageRank by not using the nofollow. This is what you have….
<a href=”http://www.budget.com/roll”><img src=”http://www.rocknrolltv.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/budget-coupon-code-125×125.gif” alt=”Ad” /></a>
<a href=”http://www.avis.com/roll”><img src=”http://www.rocknrolltv.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/avis-promo-code-125×125.gif” alt=”Ad” /></a>
It should look like this….
<a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://www.budget.com/roll”><img src=”http://www.rocknrolltv.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/budget-coupon-code-125×125.gif” alt=”Ad” /></a>
<a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://www.avis.com/roll”><img src=”http://www.rocknrolltv.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/avis-promo-code-125×125.gif” alt=”Ad” /></a>
My only other question for you is this.
Posts should be 200 words. Should I simply use my video script as the post so it is all the rock news? This would provide a post that is very appropriate for the site in terms of searchable terms and be over 200 words at the same time. Then… do what you said and align one affiliate with one rocker type thing and write about that as well.
Greg at BlendSEO:
Using the video script is a great way to do this.
Wow. This is really incredible. Thank you so much.
Okay. I was wrong. One last question. I assume I should not ‘go back’ and make changes to previous posts?
Greg at BlendSEO:
There’s nothing negative for SEO. It’s just your preference. I didn’t want to assume.
Another plan is to puff up the FAQ pages and other personal pages so Google knows we are ‘legit’. (I read that can help?)
Greg at BlendSEO:
Your FAQ, About Us and Contact Us look pretty thorough already, but more content can only help.
Thanks for the brilliant idea. I will implement it today and find a way to redo my categories to align them with affiliates. Very cool!