This guest post is by Kevin Sanders, of strongandfit.net.
Things were going well over at my fitness blog. I was not an A-lister, but traffic was steadily increasing.
I was starting to get ranked for several lower competition keywords. Organic traffic was improving. Then suddenly my search engine traffic dropped dramatically.
I was apparently one of the casualties of Google’s so-called Panda update. I’m guessing it’s because about 10% of my website’s content was re-posted. I wasn’t just mindlessly copying and pasting a bunch of content for the sake of content. I only posted stuff I considered valuable to my readers—and I only ever post articles with permission of the original author. Regardless, it seems this was enough to have my blog slapped with the “content farm” label.
I’ve bowed to the Google gods and removed the “duplicate content.” Maybe I’ll recover my SERP rank, maybe not. Based on what I’m reading, no one has successfully recovered from the Panda meltdown once his or her site has been affected—I think it will take some time for Google to re-crawl sites reassess sites.
But I’ve learned some important lessons from this. Some lessons are new, while others just reinforce what I’ve already learned.
Lesson #1: Never become over-dependent on one source of traffic
The algorithm change has affected my site, but it hasn’t destroyed it. That’s because I use several methods for driving traffic to my site. Staying active on forums, for example, has been one of my favorite strategies I’ve spent a little more time on forums in lately in light of the Google issue.
Lesson #2: Blog as if no one is reading
Blog as if everyone is reading. Here’s what I mean: I love lifting weights, and fitness in general. I enjoy blogging about it, regardless of how many (or few) read my posts. This passion has kept me going in spite of the setback. But I always want to make sure I’m producing high-quality, useful posts—just as if thousands would be reading.
Lesson #3: Look to other bloggers for help
I’m not an SEO guru—not by a long shot! But there are several bloggers out there who are experts in this particular discipline. These blogs have been especially valuable in learning what adjustments I need to make to my site, and why. But this tip is not limited to search engine algorithms—you can apply it to almost any issue you have in blogging. Always be open to learn from your fellow bloggers.
Lesson #4: Try to keep an eye on search engine news and anything else that may affect your blog
I didn’t realize there was an update until after my traffic was affected. I later learned Google had already warned us about the coming changes—I just wasn’t paying attention. I’m not sure I could have changed the outcome, but I would have responded sooner if I had known.
Again, this is a tip that applies to other aspects of blogging—keep an eye on anything that has the potential to affect your blog. I’m not suggesting you be reactionary in your approach to blogging. But a general awareness of things can help you make informed decisions.
I’m still learning about websites/blogs you can use to follow search engine trends. I’ll give you a few suggestions, and maybe you can recommend others in the comments:
- SEO-Hacker.com is a blog I’ve mentioned before. I like the simplified approach to explaining SEO, and this blog has a few articles about Panda.
- SEO Roundtable is a very helpful blog I ran across while trying to make sense of all this Panda update stuff. This blogger actually keeps an eye on forums and gives you a feel for what bloggers and webmasters are talking about.
- The Google Webmaster Help YouTube Channel is another one to keep your eye on. You’ll be able to hear direct answers from Google representative Matt Cutts here.
Hang in there if you’ve also been affected by the changes at Google. Learn from the challenges and you’ll become a better blogger in the end. If you have a Panda experience to share, or some tips to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments.