May 27, 2014 – 12:21 pm
Many businesses rely on organic search marketing efforts to provide high quality, targeted, high-ROI web leads and/or sales every month. A hit to website rankings or visibility can be detrimental to your short term business model. For many websites, Panda 4.0 makes this nightmare a reality and many businesses struggle with correcting past mistakes and re-asserting their business in a space online that encourages interest and ultimately, conversions.
Recovery is not easy. It never is. It can be a lengthy process and one must be able to quickly recognize this in order to move forward and reduce the impact on your business’ bottom line. In times like this, we turn to the 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing for recovery.
Each of the 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing is accompanied by 7 Stages, in order to best help you plan ahead for the implementation of each pillar. From budgeting to resources and technology, the 7 Pillar’s 49er Matrix can be used as a guide in recovering from Panda 4.0. For more on the 7 Pillars, take a look at the presentation at this location.
Step I: Panda 4.0 Recoup
Pillar 4. Digital Media
Recovering from a loss of organic search rankings is not going to happen overnight. The same way it took your site a prolonged period of time to rank for your target keyword(s), it can to take to rebuild. In the interim, you should have a sense of which of your target keywords have been converting. While you may no longer have Analytics access to those converting keywords via Google anymore, you are still able to note the fluctuations in entrances to top landing pages and inference entrance keywords on:
- The manner in which those pages are optimized
- The change in those landing page entrances (Analytics) versus the change in search impressions and clicks (via Webmaster)
These combined with the nature of the conversion may be enough to lend insight as to the lost keyword(s) that have impacted your bottom line. If you’ve never worked with Google Adwords before, now is a great time to start. While this will incur costs you may not have normally expected, running a quick and efficient Adwords campaign to target the specific keywords lost is a great way to put your business back in front of the eyes of potential consumers and regain the voice lost when your site was hit by Panda 4.0.
Tip: Did your previous organic meta description and page title encourage a high click through rate? This provides a great starting point for your ad copy. Reverse this tactic as well – A/B testing ad copy for the purposes of changing your meta description is a great way to influence your organic click through rate when you’ve began to work on Pillar 3 again (SEO.)
Pillar 5. CRM
Some webmasters just don’t dive into their analytics nearly enough. Now is definitely the time. Your site is most likely seeing a reduction in unique and/or new visitors. For the visitors that are still coming to your site, either from branded searches or keywords that are still successful – how is your website interacting with them? Each visitor should mean that much more to you now because you understand how volatile the SERPs can be and how organic traffic and its ROI cannot be taken for granted. Are your web pages converting visitors? Where are they dropping off? The use of Google Analytics in conjunction with tools like Clicktale can lend great insight as to how users are interacting with your web properties. Test alternative landing pages (colors, language, formatting, etc) and work to improve on-site conversion rates from existing users to compensate the reduced ROI from the site being hit by Panda 4.0.
Tip: Alternatively – Look to your database. How many leads have you captured in the past? How many email addresses are on file and have authorized emails to be sent to them? Consider how you’ve interacted with them in the past and how you can re-engage past web visitors in order to recoup the loss of organic traffic with an audience that you know is likely to convert, as they have in the past.
Step II: Panda 4.0 Recovery
Pillar 1. Content
For many that have been hit by Panda, this may have been where the problem originated from. Content. What are you delivering to your web users? Are you providing content of value? How often is this content being updated? Google loves to see new and fresh content updated on a site. It lets them know that it’s still active and assumes its relevancy to users. Whether it is new static pages or active blogging, it is recommended that your website evolve as your market evolves. Being ahead of the curve and an influencer in this sphere is even better, and this is what your website should be at its highest aspirations. If you were a consumer or a general web user and wanted information on or wanted to purchase X – Would your site be the place to do it? Why or why not? How can you turn those honest ‘no’s’ into a resounding ‘yes’? It all starts with the content. While we’ll never claim that this is where the buck stops, it’s certainly a good place to start.
Note: Integration with Pillar 3 (SEO) is crucial. Content should be targeted in the same manner in which your meta-tags are targeted. It is important that content like your meta-tags are unique to individual pages, as duplicate content can be trouble-some.
Tip: Oft overlooked, but formatting of on-page copy is vital. It ensures readability, encourages users to scroll further down the site to both read and click through to other sections. Google also uses this as a ranking indicator.
On top of Google’s recent Panda updates, algorithm updates have been made to lessen the visibility of websites that don’t offer users enough content above the fold. If a user has to scroll down too far on your website, or has to pass through an abundance of ads to view your content, you’re probably providing a negative user experience. If this sounds like your website, now is the time to correct it. It will both benefit your SEO and your users will thank you.
Outside of this visual change, examine the structure of URLs on site. Ensure that pages are not just tied to the root domain and that each section is built out in a manner that which Google can literally track each subsequent sub-folder of a page and denote the exact topic/industry/niche the page is a part of, going all the way back to your root domain.
Pillar 3. SEO
Integrating Pillar 2 and 3 (like all the pillars) is essential. Ensure that pages (folders, sub-folders) are targeted for a specific set of keywords. When building in-links into your site, the linking site and the link target should accurately reflect the keywords in this section. This will work to further re-enforce the subject matter of those particular sub-folders and of the website.
There is also the matter of taking care of the existing in-link issue on your site. Check your account with Google Webmaster Tools which will indicate whether your site has been hit with a manual penalty or not. It is suggested that you tackle both manual penalties and algorithm shifts in the same manner – by “tidying up” your link portfolio.
Cleaning your in-link portfolio doesn’t necessarily meaning to remove any link that doesn’t come from a high page rank website. No natural link portfolio is void of less than stellar links, and you shouldn’t attempt to make yours as such. It will only make your portfolio seem unnatural, which is not a lot better than having a portfolio full of SPAM.
There are several tools out there, like Link Detox that can help you sort through your site’s links and identify which are questionable. The goal is to remove SPAMMED links – and we all know those when we see them, no need to go into the details. Email webmasters individually and kindly ask them to remove the links on those sites. Those that you cannot get in contact with should be placed in a Disavow file and submitted to Google Webmaster. If you have a manual penalty noted against your site, now would be the time to also fill out a Reconsideration Request.
Pillar 6. Social Media, PR
Going forward, it’s important to make sure that you have a healthy inlink acquisition strategy for your website – one that centers around the Content (Pillar 1) that you’ve created within your niche. The integration of this content with your social media and PR strategy is key. Social media shares, likes, pins, tweets, etc are all positive indicators to Google that your content is of real value to those that interact with it; thus its impact on your site’s organic search rankings.
Like social, PR will play a vital role. Think of your PR and link building strategy as a single concept – Where would you want to attain links from? Where do you want referral visits from? Where does your target audience live and what are the best forums and mediums to reach out to those individuals? At its highest level, your marketing and PR strategy should directly reflect your newer (Panda-proof) link acquisition strategy.
Pillar 7. Mobile
Mobile issues often present themselves in the face of duplicate content and low user engagement (Pillar 2 and 3, respectively). When using the 49er matrix, you’ll see the correlation between UX and mobile. A mobile friendly UX can come in the form of a responsive web design or a separate mobile website. Allowing the user to view the content in a format appropriate for their device will help to increase engagement, pages per visit, time on site, and ultimately, conversions. Not only is this better for your business’ bottom line, but will indicate to Google that your site provides quality material for users.
The other way mobile websites tend to conflict with Panda 4.0 updates is in the form of duplicate content. Users that have separate mobile and desktop websites often repeat the content from one site to another. This is not unusual and may be practical in most senses. To Google, this still appears to be duplicate content across sub-domains. In order to fix this, you’re going to have to let Google know that this content is duplicated on purpose, supposed to be there, and then indicate which one of these pages you would rather rank. This acknowledgement of the issue and indication of your URL ranking preference for this content comes in the form of a rel=canonical tag, placed on the header of both the original and duplicate content. This will fix the issue of duplicate content within your site – something Panda penalizes heavily.
And this is just the start of it! We’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of optimization and cross optimization between Pillars. Using the 49er Matrix, follow each pillar and mode and ensure that you deliver an integrated, holistic marketing plan from the ground up; that incorporates all aspects of your digital strategy. This will not only aid in your recovery of Panda 4.0, but will reduce the chances of your web properties being affected by future Google updates. Good Luck!