How To Find Pages Hit With Panda

by Lyena Solomon September 26th, 2012 

If your organic traffic hit a dive once or repeatedly in the last couple of years, your site might have been hit by Panda.

Panda is an update to Google algorithm. First Panda update was released in February 2011. The purpose of the update was to devalue sites with little content or a lot of advertising. As a result, many sites dropped in ranking and experienced drop in traffic. There were several Panda updates since then.

The main thing about Panda is that you can see the problems when you look at the page. What we are trying to do is find those pages quickly to look at them and improve.

Did Panda update affected my website?

First, it is important to diagnose why your traffic took a hit.

Go to Analytics and look at your organic traffic for 2 years. Find the dips. Record the dates. Compare the dips to the known Panda updates.

If your organic traffic graph looks like this after one of the updates, Panda might have marked your website.

traffic graph - site hit by Panda update

Still not sure? Here is a very detailed description of how to find out if you were hit by Panda.

Google has not set Panda off to clean up the Internet all alone. There have been several Penguin updates as well. Learn the difference and find out if you were hit by Penguin or Panda.

Once you determined that your site had been affected by a Panda update, not all is lost. Panda is algorithmic. It runs every so often and if the problems get corrected, your ranking and traffic will improve.

How do I correct the problems?

Your first step in correcting the situation will be to march straight to your analytics software of choice. Mine is Google Analytics and I will be using it in this post.

1. Landing pages. Discover landing pages that were hit by Panda. In Google Analytics, Go to Content -> Landing Pages. Segment by Non-paid SEO traffic.

Remember that list of dates with traffic dips? You will be using it now. In the date range in Google Analytics, set the start date as the first day of the dip. Set the end date right before the up trend in traffic. If the traffic has not recovered, set the end date as a month out from start date.

Click "compare to previous period". Sort by Absolute Change.

Look at numbers for landing pages - difference in visits, difference in new visitors.

2. Keywords. Click on one of the landing pages and add second dimension - keyword.

Sort by Absolute Change. Ignore 'non-provided' and look at your main keywords. If they dipped, start changing your content to be more relevant to those keywords.

If you see decrease in your brand keywords - consider an SEO audit - you might have bigger problems.

You can also review your visitors by keyword, but I find it less useful because non provided data keeps increasing and making the metric not very reliable.

Action list. Now that you have your list of affected pages, you can start improving them. Use the list of keywords as a relevance guide. Re-write the content of the pages to be more relevant to the topic. Most importantly, be helpful to the searcher. Learn what their intent is when they search for the keyword you are targeting. Meet their expectations and interest with your page.

What to do to avoid getting hit?

Panda is all about promoting quality. It was implemented to improve user experience. Google is striving to show only relevant and high quality results for the searcher. If your site is compelling, informative, and relevant to the searcher's query, you won't need to worry about future Panda updates.

1. Content. Create quality content. Each page on your website should be good enough to rank for something. It should be unique and highly relevant to some topic, to major content category on your website. There should be text, not just media. Don't make these 5 content mistakes.

2. Links. There should be appropriate number of links on your page - less than 150, for sure. My advice is to minimize your footer and navigation links. Get an SEO audit done with focus on site architecture. Get rid of the maze, improve usability.

3. Ads. Reconsider ads on your pages. Make them less annoying. Check your stats. If people do not click on your ads, change their location. By re-arranging your pages you might help usability and your revenue.

Do you think your website was hit by Panda? Did you recover?

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy How to Recover After the Google Panda and Penguin Update?

Lyena Solomon

I am leading the SEO and analytics teams providing strategy and overseeing processes. I facilitate and carry out training and testing latest strategies to improve conversion and revenue. Being a people person, I establish and maintain relationships with vendors and business partnerships.

Personal Blog

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14 Responses to “How To Find Pages Hit With Panda”

  1. John says:

    I was hit by the mighty penguin, didn't like it but in the same times i like this funny game with big G!

  2. Hi Lyena,
    I find your article very interesting and I agree that knowing which update has impacted on your organic traffic is usually quite tricky.
    We at Barracuda Digital have developed a free tool that overlays your organic traffic with the different Google algorithm updates. That makes easier to identify which update hit you and therefore knowing what you should fix in your website.

    Kind regards

  3. Yw says:

    Hmm.. For point #2 regarding number of links on the page. I do think that it is great for the site to have only relevant links on every page (for page performance and usability) but I tends to disagree that there will be issues with Panda update if the number of links exceeds 150.

    I do see quite a number of sites that have hundreds of links on most of their pages but they are getting more organic traffic after each Panda updates..

    Do you have any case studies to share whereby sites seeing an increase in organic traffic from Panda updates after they reduced the number of links on their pages?

    • Yw,
      There are many posts written on best practices on site architecture and internal linking. I am sure you will be able to find them by doing a Google search. Best thing, of course, is doing whatever is better for your specific site.
      Glad to have you as our reader!

    • Ruud Hein says:

      On a lot of sites when you go over a certain amount of links — and I find 150 setting it high — you're outweighing your content. You're starting to have more templating/boilerplate than content.

      Sites where I "get" 150+ links: big ecommerce. There you often need to get everything in place to make it easy for customers. News sites. The links makes sense. Other sites? Not so.

  4. Jon Wade says:

    I don't think that too many links is a Panda factor though, at least, not a major one. I was hit by Panda and then recovered, and if anything I ended up with more links.

    Also, quality content is good, but Panda goes beyond simply hammering sites with some low quality content. It is about how that content is presented and possibly more important, have you already said it before?

  5. […] How To Find Pages Hit With Panda by Lyena Solomon […]

  6. Jeff says:

    Noticed a huge traffic drop in late April (26th or so) and a steady decline ever since.

    Not really sure if coincided with any Google update or not.

    I've taken a few of your suggestions about limiting ads and even checked out my site results on CopyScape.

    Only duplicate content I had was a quote from a poet.
    Maybe a can make a picture of the text from that quote LOL

    My site is very picture oriented so it's lack of text content may be hurting it too I suppose.

    Thanks for giving me some ideas of things to look at Lyena :)

    • Jeff,
      I am glad that my suggestions helped you. If you think that your site lacks text, you are probably right.
      In the end, the ultimate check is usability. Would you recommend your site to your friends? If you improve your site for visitors, the search engines will be happy. Good luck!