Were You Affected By the Panda Update?
The panda update affected one in every eight websites in Google's index and is arguably the biggest algorithm update they've ever done. In studying many of the sites affected by this update I have come up with a list of items they all have in common, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what caused people's sites to lose their rankings. Follow this guide and you can get out of the rut, and prevent your site from being dropped in the future.
1. Duplicated, trash or Scraped Content
What is the primary content on your site? Is it junk content generated by some "article generator"? It doesn't matter how good your Markov algorithm is and how nice the articles look, if it doesn't make sense to a reader it's junk. And I will admit some article generators build things that look simply like someone with bad English skills wrote it, but these kinds of things wont bid well with Google.
Are you scraping RSS feeds as your primary content? This is also a bad idea, because this content is duplicated all over the net. You can get some pretty neat software products to scrape RSS feeds and make pages out of them, or even scrape Wikipedia or similar sites, but in the end if this is your main content, you'll lose your rankings.
Create your own content.
2. Links Spammed in Bad Neighborhoods
This is another one I've been warning about for years. Are you posting your links at FFA (free for all) sites, linkdumps and more? You could be putting yourself at risk. Take a good look at the site. Are they providing any real value to their visitors? If the answer is no then you shouldn't be posting your link there. Even if it is a "hot PR6 .EDU" domain with a backdoor that lets you post your own link, resist the temptation. Google uses human reviewers and they spot this stuff and make sure nobody gets link juice from them, and also may punish those who try.
3. Comment Spam
Don't do it! There are plenty of good opportunities to post valuable comments on relevant sites. There is nothing wrong with this, however randomly commenting on sites just to get your links up is a bad idea. If you are trying to sell diet pills and you post your link on some automotive enthusiast blog you've done nothing to help your rankings. In most cases people will filter and delete in anyway, and in the worst case Google will penalize you for it.
4. Watch Your Bounce Rate
Are you paying attention to your bounce rate? If you're using Google Analytics on your site, you can check your bounce rate to see how often people leave your site immediately. If you have a high bounce rate (around 70 affiliate content it's a junk site. Make sure and add some content in to the site, and use the affiliate stuff for ads on the side, not actual content.
10. Keyword Stuffing
Another outdated SEO trick is still being used in the wild, and it still doesn't work. Loading up your text with keywords does a few things for you. It makes your text less readable, sounds silly and compromises your credibility. Did I mention it it doesn't work? Keyword stuffing hasn't worked for years, and with the panda update, it actually hurts you. Many of the sites I've seen that were "punished" by panda were doing this. Adding keywords is fine but keep the density very low (3-5%) and make sure it sounds natural. Read it out loud, and if sounds silly don't do it.
I hope these tips help you get a better idea of how to panda proof your site. Even if you have been hit by this update, you can recover. By following these rules you can shield yourself against future updates as well. I have repeated the mantra countless times on my website and elsewhere: keep it honest. It pays off every time.