Panda 4.0 Gets Technical
June 19, 2014
For those that have been in the SEO world for a bit, just mentioning the word “update” is enough to cause cold sweat. Having seen the damage previous updates can cause, we know that Google is not one to mess around. When the roll out of Panda 4.0 was announced, there seemed to be a collective breath holding across the web. Traffic was checked, rankings were checked, and for most, and for the most part, the dramatic drops remained unseen. Could the days of harsh Google updates be over?
As we reach the one month mark since the rollout out, Panda 4.0, which has been referred to be more “gentle and soft” than previous updates, seems to have come without the stress of having do any major damage control, at least in comparison to updates of the past. But as we all know with Google, looks can be deceiving. While Panda 4.0 didn’t pack a big initial punch, its quieter approach comes with its own setbacks. With less obvious tell tail signs that you have been hit and the trends of what it seems to be targeting getting far more technical than just keyword density, Panda 4.0 doesn’t seem too soft. If you have seen traffic, rankings and search queries show a steady decline since May, chances are, you have some clean up to do and need to look at the following on your site:
While it has been a “good practice” suggestion for quite some time, it becoming apparent Google wants a clean URL structure. And what Google wants, Google gets. Since the Panda 4.0 update, any site that has seemingly taken the hardest hit has a URL structure that is less than desirable. This includes confusing navigation paths as well URL’s that seem like they are on the third or fourth version of the original. Cleaning up URL’s is typically not quick or easy task, and for more complicated sites, one that needs to be handled with a great deal of care and attention to detail. If you are wondering if your URL structure is causing problems, the first thing to do is to go to your site and navigate it as you were the customer. Is there a clear path from one page to the next? Can you get back to certain pages without using the back button? Make note of any confusing aspects that pop up. Next, go over to Google Webmaster Tools and check out the “Internal Links” section how every page is linked throughout the site. This give can give you great insight on how Google views your site structure and which pages may need some adjusting. Finally sit down with your webmaster to devise a strategy as for some sites, the protocol to ensure that everything remains as stable as possible will be equal to that of creating a new site.
To be honest, I’m kind of with Google on this one. Broken links make a site look sloppy and if you have a number of them throughout the site it’s time to get your house in order. Siteliner.com is a great site to check to see if you have any popping up on the site and should be a pretty quick fix for any developer.
While this one seems to be obvious, it’s continues to play a factor in a number of sites that are seeing falling numbers. While duplicate content throughout the site is an issue there are a number of less obvious factors that can be throwing up a duplicate content flag. For example, Some CMS systems generate an automatic URL in addition to the one you set as well, basically creating a duplicate of every page on the site. Issues can also be caused from masked URL’s and pages that haven’t been properly redirected. Again, using Siteliner.com can give you a good idea of any technical issues that may be causing duplicate content you are not aware of.
The fact of the matter is it’s once again time for websites to step up their game. With the number of websites estimated to reach one BILLION by the end of 2014, competition is fierce and gone are the days where any site will do if you are looking to rank. Taking the time to build and maintain a quality site is no longer a strong recommendation but a requirement and taking the time to ensure yours is the best it can be in every possible way will provide you with the necessary foundation for great rankings.
Elisa Houghtelin is one of the Account Managers at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here. Thanks for reading the SEOhaus blog!