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Why Did My Site Nose Dive After the Google Panda Update? Part One

January 13th, 2012 13 comments

TAMPA, FLORIDA — Every time Google changes its algorithm, many websites’ rankings in organic search results change, too.

It can be frustrating to those who spend a great deal of time and effort (and money, if you’ve hired a professional SEO firm), to achieve their desired ranking, only to lose it when Google makes a few tweaks.

This was the case in February 2011 when Google launched “Panda.” It happened again in April 2011 when it rolled out Panda to all English language queries, in addition to making several small updates, according to an April 11, 2011 article posted on Search Engine Land.

Courtesy of TechChunks.com

Panda was designed to weed out pages and websites that were deemed to be of a quality below Google’s high standards, including content farms and websites filled with duplicate content.

In part one of this two-part series, we will discuss the reasons why your site may have lost its ranking. In part two, we’ll share tips on what you can do to get back your ranking.

So why did your website take a nose-dive after the Panda update? In short, it’s likely due at least in part to failing to observe best SEO practices. Why are we still talking about Google Panda almost a year after it launched? Because many sites have yet to recover from the change, says Ali Husayni, an expert in SEO technology.

There are several specific factors that caused websites to lose their rank after the Panda update. Chances are, you were guilty of one of the following:

You copied content from other sources: If you’ve copied one sentence from someone else’s site, you’re plagiarizing and Google will give you an F. Think about what your English teacher taught you in high school: if you’re going to use someone else’s words, you need to attribute them to the person who wrote them. When it comes to SEO, you need to take it a step farther and reword the information so that it doesn’t appear exactly as it does on the site where you got the information.

But your best bet is to not borrow a great deal of information from other sites. Think about it from Google’s standpoint: why should they rank your site higher instead of giving a high ranking to the site where you pulled your information? That’s obviously the site filled with relevant content. The idea is to generate your own original, relevant content that site visitors will find useful.

Your content was old and never updated: Google loves websites that are alive and kicking. If you launched a website in 2007 and haven’t updated the content or changed anything about it since then, Google likely will not perceive it as having useful information. Could you imagine a business search engine optimization site launched in 2007 and never updated? Yikes! Talk about out-of-date, useless information!

Someone else with a stronger site may have copied your site: In this case, Google probably thinks you are the one who plagiarized, and they’ve given credit to the other site. That sucks and unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do except revamp your site’s content.

Tune in on Monday, when we’ll explain how you can restore your ranking.