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Panda 20 and EMD Google Algorithm Recovery Plan

Updated on March 18, 2013

Panda EMD Recovery Graph

Google Webmaster Tools screenshot of Panda / EMD recovery for
Google Webmaster Tools screenshot of Panda / EMD recovery for | Source

Google Algorithm Recovery Plan

A few days after Google released their Exact Match Domain algorithmic update news started to filter through that they had quietly, and simultaneously, released a Panda Update. There can be no doubt that the decision to hold back the announcement was an attempt to muddy the waters and making it more difficult for us to determine, and separate, the effects of each release on those websites who lost rankings. Just to keep things interesting, Google also released their latest Penguin update and a new version of "Top Heavy" the following week.

This exact dates of the releases were as follows:

  • Thursday Sept 27th - Google Panda 20 (it took the whole weekend to roll out)
  • Friday September 28th - Exact Match Domain Algorithm
  • Friday October 5th - Penguin 3
  • Tuesday October 9th - Top Heavy Version 2

The good news is that if you have a Google Analytics account you'll be able to determine from the date that your visitor stats declined whether you've been thwacked by the Google Panda or Penguin.

What's really noticeable is that all the major search engine news websites haven't yet started commenting on what was actually contained in Panda 20. The reason for this is that no-one is willing to put their head on the block and take a guess. Frankly, I'm not going to either. What I am going to do here is give you some strategies to look more appealing to Google, and I've come up with these based on my observations of google's corporate chess game over the last year and a half.

Understanding How To Recover From Being Google-Thwacked
If you've been flushed to the bottom of the search engine results, whatever you do, don't abandon your website too quickly, in fact the best thing to do for the next couple of weeks is keep building. Trust me, I've been there.

Just create a few more pages and submit them to the google index using Google Webmaster Tools as usual. It's important that you don't do anything hasty at this stage - my regular readers will already know that google has a "shoot it if it moves" algorithm which detects unnatural changes to a website immediately following a sudden loss of ranking. What this means is that google may consider you a spammer if you make huge changes to your website right now. Just keep doing what you were doing, as long as it's all White Hat and above board.

Align Your Website With Google's Future Objectives
Like any other company, Google has their own objectives and agendas. The three most important which affect you are:

  • Keep search engine results relevant and meaningful to their users so that they retain their market share of search traffic
  • Monetize their business and continue to make a profit and please their shareholders (Google Adwords, Checkout, Shopping etc)
  • Enter new markets with potential to increase turnover (Google+ & Android)

I can almost hear your frustration now about the idea of relevant and meaningful content. I too had a website in the top three search results with 100% original content and I was flushed to page 2 for three whole weeks - but I'm back in the top 5 results for all of my main key phrases now. It's happened before, and I recovered every time - you can too. (Follow me on Hubpages, Google+ etc for updates.)

Try to put aside your frustration for a moment and look at Google as a corporation with a business plan, and suddenly the way to avoid getting thwacked by the big google hammer becomes clear. Watch Google closely for their future intentions and their new algorithmic updates will no longer come as a surprise. This revelation has only just hit me - so here's my short term plan. (The long term plan will form and I'll share it with you as it unfolds.)

  1. Remove all advertising from "above the fold" - Google's "Top Heavy" algorithm penalises websites which don't contain enough "actual content above the fold". Above the fold means the part of the screen which is visible before any scrolling occurs. Do your most important pages first and don't do it all at the same time - just a few pages a day then resubmit to index.
  2. Make sure you've installed Google+ share buttons on your content
  3. Make sure you have a Google+ page and broadcast social messages, find appropriate hashtags to broadcast to and encourage followers. If you're a local business, then having a Google+ page is now absolutely essential - don't ignore this priceless opportunity.
  4. Do a backlinks site audit and take a long hard look at who's linking to you. If you're not scoring back links with page rank, then you need to look into this urgently. Directory back links are worthless these days - you're better off having one back link with a PR of 2, than 1,000 directory back links with no value at all. Forget about trying to get the worthless ones removed for the moment (in the absence of an announcement from google to the contrary), your energy is much better spent acquiring high value links.
  5. Sign up for Google Authorship and tag your best articles on your pages with your google author profile, then do the same with your best external articles.

Finally, the last thing I noticed about the latest google algorithm update is that there's been a localisation of search results. For example, .com websites are most prominently featured in, and my website isn't. That's not necessarily a bad thing for me, however if you're not a .com site and you're selling globally, then this may cause you some issues.

Before you start your road to recovery, make a spreadsheet and go through the google index and track where your best pages appear for all of your important key phrases, and watch for improvement. Check every few days. It's time consuming, but worth it because you'll see whether you're making a difference with your efforts. Things might improve quicker, but mostly it would be at least four weeks before you see any improvements.

If you're genuinely interested in SEO and you'd rather someone else keep you informed, then follow me on Hubpages and / or Google+ so that you hear about updates as they come along, and you might also want to read my SEO daily online newspaper - which you'll find via my Google+ page. If you haven't already signed up to hub pages - it's a great way to generate quality back links and traffic from your articles and, if you're a prolific writer, a nice way to make a small second income (I get a portion of revenue from the sponsored adverts on the page when they're clicked).

Finally, please let me know what you think, and share your experiences in the comments box below. The more information we have, the quicker we'll all recover.

by Rachel Roodhardt


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    • JanMaklak profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      This is a really well writtwn and informative post. I've shared it with my 6500 twitter followers

    • EvilKnevil profile image


      6 years ago from Worldwide - Everywhere

      Great article....i'm thinking my websites have been targetted due to a large single ad block above the fold perhaps? was thinking emd update..but i don't really have that many emd file names for my domains...My website shows fine in Bing and in Yahoo but has basically disappeared for all my main search phrases i used to rank for.

      I don't think it is link related because i have checked using opensiteexplorer and my linking is pretty natural looking PLUS ihave not received any WARNING messages from Google-which from my research is now pretty much guaranteed if you have bad link patterns.

      So other than looking for keyword stuffing, im not quite sure what has happened. It's very confusing!!

    • Alistair Olver profile image

      Alistair Olver 

      6 years ago from Wiltshire, UK.

      Excellent article, many useful tips.

    • Armchair Builder profile image

      Michael Luckado 

      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks Rachel. Glad to hear someone that has the ability to de-code this SEO stuff. Will be watching for more from you...

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 

      6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      Thank you Rachel !

    • truebluewriter profile image

      Malds Menzon 

      6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      ughhh so I've been working on my blog and discovered that I had hidden link to to some slim forte site tucked in at the bottom of my blog. I couldn't see it even when i played around with firefoxes developer tools. It was hidden below the browser bar and nothing showed up on the screen no matter what I did.

      Took me hours to remove it. Deleted all the plugins and themes and it was still there. I had to reupload most of the WP main files and overwrite the existing ones to get rid of it. I'm not even sure which file exactly it was pasted into. I'm changing my passwords for all my sites right now. This prolly played a huge roll in my site tanking.

    • truebluewriter profile image

      Malds Menzon 

      6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Nice hub, will be trying your tips out for my blog.

      I left it alone and for almost a month now and it doesn't look good lol. Looking at my analytics, it seems I got hit by a panda update, and the emd one dropped my site for the emd keyword to page 2 (although to be honest the emd keyword didn't really bring me the most traffic). Thankfully it doesn't seem like I was ever affected by a penguin update (comparin analytics and the update schedules right now) since my blog didn't change much when those were rolled out. That should make things a bit easier.

      I'll be working on my blog the next month or two and see if I can resurrect it by Christmas lol or early next year. Hopefully things work out. I really hope I see some positive results because I don't want to crank up the work with guest posting until I see at least some positive movement.

      In the meantime though my new fitness blog is doin well. I'm trying to not be overly dependent now on google now because the updates can knock you down really bad. So I have started using forums and social media traffic a lot. I'm loving facebook right now coz I'm getting a good number of shares and likes. It's just 2 months old and has about 30-40 daily views (spiked one time to 160 when I got shared by a local crossfit box). So at least I've got some good things going for me despite the algo drops.

      Hopefully I can get both my blogs up and running with good traffic by the first quarter of next year.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      6 years ago from UK

      This is very useful and interesting. I am definitely still a learner when it comes to SEO, and having to learn a bit faster now because my views have dropped drastically recently, beginning on Sept 27th. I found it interesting that you say the update took the whole weekend to roll out because for me it was a decline over the weekend rather than a huge drop on one particular day like some people have reported.

      I guess there will be changes coming in where ads are displayed on hubs since currently there are several above the fold.

      Thanks for this information and I will now go and read your article on Google Authorship.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 

      6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      thank you Rachel! Just 1 question: how to remove Ad from above the fold if it is placed by HP just exactly there? Should I "push it down" by photos?

    • Ethan Green profile image

      Ethan Green 

      6 years ago from England

      Thanks for this article. It's refreshing to see a well written SEO article from someone who clearly knows their stuff:-)

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 

      6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      International google pages did not disapper. In my case they still drive traffic but much less than before. Can it be some coincidence of some actions of HP staff+ Google updates ?

    • How-to-crafts profile image


      6 years ago from Ireland

      Very interesting article about the Google changes that effect our rankings. We just have to keep on top of it. Your updates are useful for that.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I presume this mostly applies only to folks who maintain their own actual websites, with their own registered domain names.

      Those of us writing here on Hub Pages, where we are but a 'subdomain,' and who write on Google's Blogger platform, have ZERO control over where ads are placed on the page.

      I don't understand much of this stuff anyway; it's way too technical for me. But as soon as you got to ad placement, and "above the fold," I realized this is not to do with those of us who only write here or on Blogger.

      Thanks for some interesting insights, though. It's too bad Google thinks it has to be so sneaky and underhanded, though, and ends up penalizing worthwhile content under the guise of eliminating garbage. I fear you'll never get rid of garbage--it erupts with spontaneity and multiplies faster than wire coat hangers in a closet.

      To borrow from the Borg episodes in Star Trek, "Resistance is futile."

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      All sounds like good advise. No harm in trying it. Voted uP!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I am still learning all about SEO and still consider myself a "newbie" to all of this even though I have been writing on HubPages now for a number of years. Will look forward to reading more from you. Up votes!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Will work to implement your advice. Thanks! Voted up & shared.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I suppose I've been "Google-thwacked" since my overall HP traffic dropped off more than half during the last week of September and hasn't recovered. What confuses me is that my most-viewed hub (which garnered up to 466 views per day before the 'thwacking') is still indexed on page 1 by Google, yet my views are down to less than 200 per day, on some days less than 150. What would cause this if that hub's Google ranking didn't change? (You can probably guess that I'm tremendously technologically challenged.) My earnings for this month will be less than half of last month's unless there's a significant improvement very quickly. My frustration level is high, which thwarts my ambition to write and publish more hubs.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 

      6 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      All advises seem to be really good. Hope they help, because I was totally frustratrated by loss of traffic. Thank you!


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