Death by Panda?

There’s a lot of chatter online at the moment about the latest part of the Google Panda update, so I thought I’d update you with my thoughts and action points for anyone affected by this in any way.
Panda has been going on for nearly a year now and it is generally about the one thing I have been carping on about for years: give Google quality.
It wants quality because it wants to deliver quality to its users. Simple.
The problem for Google, however, has been that 90% of its revenue comes from less than 10% of it’s customers. These figures are to paint a picture and are based on my observations, not any actual data.
When looking for rationale behind anything, one should always follow the money and not the spin.
So, if you accept this picture, what does it mean?
Well, imagine you own BIGCORP plc and you are spending £50 million a year with Google adwords yet you are being outranked all over Google by LITTLEGUY Ltd. who spends nada with adwords.
Understandably, you’d get on the phone to Google and ask “WTF?”
Google would mutter some apologies then call an internal meeting that would go something like this:
“OK, everyone thinks we’ve got this all-powerful algorithm, and we need to keep it that way. So, we need to find a way of penalizing all these SEO guys that are using the fact that we base rankings on high PR backlinks against our biggest customers to outrank them”
“But the algorithm is not clever enough to detect whether these links are coming from blog farms or are completely natural”
“I know”
“So, what are we gonna do?”

“OK, here’s the plan. You’re gonna pretend to be a customer of the major blog farms and infiltrate their systems.”
“Then you’re gonna make a note of all the domains in the farm as well as all the websites that are being linked to from those domains, than we’re gonna delist the blog farms and delist all of the websites that are using them”
“But, we can’t prove that the website owners are guilty of using the blog farms. They may have employed an SEO company in good faith, so some of them may not be guilty of doing anything wrong knowingly”
“Collateral damage”
“I though our strapline was ‘don’t do evil’. Sounds a bit evil, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better if we got everyone to tell us how they got these links”
“Hmmm. If only everyone relied on us for all their traffic and thought we were omnipresent…”
“They do”
“Exactly! We’ll just send them a message in webmaster tools telling them we’ve detected some unnatural links, drop them a bit in the rankings instead of delisting them completely to scare them, tell them we’ll consider reinstating their status if they..”
“Sing like canaries?

So, if you have seen a drop in rankings and have possibly got some links that were clean last week but are now contaminated, here’s my 7-point action plan:
1. Do not respond to Google’s request for information from you
2. Make sure each landing page that has dropped really hits the “top quality” mark. This means writing at least 750 words, using video if possible, not stuffing keywords in (write with the customer in mind, not the search engines).
3. Doing a complete backlink analysis and doing everything you can to remove any contaminated links if possible.
4. Continue to blog as often as possible with useful content to maintain yourself as the market-leader in terms of quality
5. Continue to build links from quality pages mixing up your anchor texts
6. Ensure that you make it easy for users to “Tweet” on Twitter, “Like” on Facebook, “Pin” on Pinterest and “+1” on Google. This is because the social aspect of SEO is not going to get any less important, is it?
7. Be patient.
In my view, this Panda update presents you as a website owner with a great opportunity. By applying the above actions, even if you have not been affected by Panda, your business is only going to benefit.
Every time Google gets one step ahead of the SEO industry, it simply means we all have to sharpen our pencils.
The great trick that Google has pulled off is that everyone treats it like God and jumps to its every command. My advice to my clients has always been:
1. Don’t trust Google
2. Don’t rely on Google for all of your business
Don’t buy into all the crap about “black hat/white hat SEO”, “the end of SEO”, “the end of backlinks” etc.
As a business owner you have every right to do what you can to get as much of the online action as possible. The idea that there is some sort of “morality” here is laughable. All SEO is manipulation of some sort, and anyone that tells you anything else is a liar. If you’ve benefitted by being at the top of Google for any amount of time, be grateful for that, lick your wounds and get back up there by following my plan.
At the end of the day, Google is a business with investors to pay dividends to.
Don’t forget that.

The founder of Attwood Digital, Mark is a digital marketing veteran having been working online since before the dotcom boom. He created the world's first online skip hire service in 2003, has created multiple online courses, lectured on digital marketing and even written a book on the subject. He is also an ICO advisor and crypto-enthusiast.
  1. Great advice as usual Mark, no nonsense, no rubbish just a simple straight forward action plan.

  2. Great article. I’ll be passing all these amazing tips onto my clients!

  3. Good advise, having a breakdown how much more rewriting and blogging there is to do. Don’t need a YTS but a blogist…Gsus

  4. Simply wonderful Mark! Great article – totally agree with the onpage stuff – quality content of any type has always been at the heart of any good SEO campaign and always has been – pre-florida, pre-caffeine, pre-panda and even after the next Google “update” … I’m gonna call it “The Lobster update” 🙂

  5. How about solutions to counteract death by penguin?

    1. Pretty much the same as panda. Quality, regular content = authority status. Links from authority sites = authority status. Plus, don’t rely on Google as your only source of traffic.

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