Why my rankings dropped because of the Google Panda update

This website is a personal blogging space for me where I write mostly on SEO & Programming. I also tend to write about things which I’d like to remember, whether personal things or something that I think would be useful (reference) in the future. What I’m trying to say is that I shouldn’t have to worry whether people come on my site to read the stuff I blog about or whether Google sends me traffic because it thinks I have good content that addresses the queries of other users. However all that changed when they released the Google Panda algorithm. Not exactly since the beginning which was April 2011 but sometime in March 2012.

I was getting a steady flow of visitors to my site because the number of posts on the site was increasing and I’ve been doing this for at least the last 5 years. I’m in no way a regular blogger but I tend to write especially when I struggle to find a solution to programming problems so that I can reference it later and to help other people out there. It’s a good feeling when you see people coming onto your site and it makes you feel appreciated (even better when they leave nice comments!).

As I said before, I lost rankings on my site was a few keywords (some blog posts have stopped ranking where they were) because of the penalty imposed by the Panda Update. I know it’s that particular algoritmic update, not Penguin, because I’ve cross referenced the dates. Traffic to my website is now one-fifth of what it used to be. This affects just my pride to be honest because I do not make any money from this website (I’ve kept it ads-free since its birth). It just makes you feel sad that your once prized content has now lost all its merit.

I’ve never bought any links for this site (why would I anyway, it’s not like boosting my SERPs will make me more rich) and the backlinks to it are purely editorial. Some people have found my website (blog posts) helpful and decided to cite me on their site (or forum). I write from my personal experience so it cannot be duplicate/rehashed content. It’s all unique and original!

So why was I penalised?

After reviewing my blog, I found lots of thin content on the site. Sometimes I would write a small paragraph in a blog post because that’s what was needed. I am not writing as a researcher or to provide a complete and accurate information for someone else. I am writing for myself, for my own use primarily, and even a short note is enough to describe something fully for my needs.

However this is not how Panda works. It wants the best possible information regarding a certain topic. Obviously a couple of lines is not enough for them and you cannot judge quality from those. From what I gather, you need to exceed a threshold of low quality pages compared to quality ones before you get trapped in the Panda penalty.

There are 2 reasons why I was not penalised as soon as Panda was out. The first theory is that I did not have as many thin pages then to reach the limit of sinking in on the balance. As more shorter blog posts were introduced, the overall quality of my blog decreased and thus I got pandalised. The second reason is the crawling rate of my site. As I said before, I do not blog often and therefore it could be that Panda caught me out much much later because Google does not crawl my blog often.

My personal opinion about it all

On one hand, the whole concept of Panda makes sense because it takes out the weed from the garden. You will get less sites with inadequate results when you search on Google and that’s a good thing. On the other hand, it makes me frustrated that I have to change the way I blog if I want to be on the good side of Google.

Of course, I don’t need to please Google; it’s my website and I can do whatever I want with it. Nevertheless, blogging solely for your personal satisfaction is boring because you don’t get the interaction with other people. You do not want to become a lonely person on the web which has billions of users. Therefore I’ve decided to do something about it.

Fortunately, there was an easy option for me. I could mark all thin posts as “noindex” so that Google can ignore them. I did not want to unpublish the posts but wanted a way to strike a nice balance and that suits me. All I had to do was go through all the posts on the site and mark the ones with very low word count as noindex.

I’m quite certain that the changes will bring about a positive change next time Panda runs (well actually, after Google has recrawled all of my pages and Panda is updated). I just need to sit back and wait now…zZzZzZzzz

UPDATE : So Panda updated itself at least 3 times after I wrote this blog post but there has been no positive effect on my site. The Panda algo is a much bigger beast than I originally thought and you need to significantly improve the content of your webpages to get out of the penalty which is not something I have time for (especially for this personal website).