I’m going to show you 5 easy-to-implement techniques you can use to avoid a Google Panda beatdown.
Before that happens though I need you to first setup Google Analytics if you haven’t already done so. Don’t worry, it is free to install. That link will take you to the signup page, then just follow the steps and get it up and running before moving on.
You will also need a Google Webmasters account. Again this is free to setup and easy to install. To really be able to make a change on your site, you're going to need at least one month worth of information in both Webmasters and Analytics.
That's okay, just bookmark this page and come back to it once you're ready.
Once you're good to go, it's time Kung Fu the shit out of this Panda with these 5 hacks on improving the quality score of your site.
1. Find Underperforming Content & Make It Better
This isn't rocket science. There’s a specific process you can use to see what pages are underperforming in Google Analytics:
- Login to your Analytics account.
- Open up your site's data.
- In the left hand sidebar, click on Content >> Site Content >> Landing Pages
- By default the table that appears next will sort information by Visits. If it has not done so, click on the column title and sort the information from the highest number of visits to the lowest.
- Make sure the data you see are seeing is from the last 30 days.
- Notice the Avg. Visit Duration column. This is the average time a visitor spends on your site after initially entering through the matching landing page.
In my opinion it’s one of the best ways of determining the quality of your content. If people like it they will stay for a while, period.
That also means an improvement in your site's overall quality score.
Take a close look at your top content (pages that receive the most number of visits) and see if you can improve on them in any way.
Below is an example of a page that is receiving a lot of traffic, but was under-performing as far as average time on site. Last week I decided to add in relevant YouTube video. As a result so far the average time on site has more than doubled from the previous month.
Check it out.
Other tweaks you can add to your content other than videos are:
- Add more oomph to the title of the post.
- Try lengthening the article.
- Insert more images.
- Add some personality to your content, dammit!
2. Restore or Redirect Broken Pages
In other words, find any links on your site (or others) that go to broken pages, then either:
- Restore those pages.
- Remove the links.
- Create a redirect to the most relevant page on your site.
I use this free plugin to redirect to the most relevant page when I’m unable to restore or remove the links.
To find out if there are any broken pages on your site, you can either use Google Webmasters (under Health >> Crawl Errors) or a broken link checker, like http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com
This also might be something you should think about checking once a month.
After all, if visitors are clicking links that go to broken pages on your site, they’re likely to leave immediately. This is something that can lead to higher bounce rates and lower time on site, and that's just not good for business.
3. Related Posts Plugin
If you aren't offering at least one related link at the end of each post, it’s likely your quality score is suffering as a result.
There are two types of plugins we use to get people to click links to related pages on our site:
- NRelate Flyout (scroll to the bottom of any page on this site to see how this plugin works)
- SEO Auto Links & Related Posts (shows a list of relevant pages directly below the post)
By installing one of the above plugins, you should see an immediate impact on your quality score. I recommend tracking this change in Analytics so you can compare the difference it makes in a month's time, as far as bounce rates and time on site goes.
4. Automating Highly Targeted Internal Links
By including internal links to other relevant pages on your site, you can dramatically improve quality score. The idea is that your visitors will click them and stay on your site for longer. However, this will only work if the anchor text matches the page that it's being linked to.
To do this try using the same plugin mentioned above, SEO Auto Links & Related Posts. Use the Auto Links option from within your WordPress Dashboard. Then look for the option “Auto links base” and select “Tags”.
Now whenever you assign a tag to a post (the option is available when adding or editing posts), when that tag appears in a future or existing piece of content, it will automatically show up as a link.
Make sure you get as specific as possible when assigning tags to posts. For example, Jill wrote an article on how to guest post. The tag used for that post was “how to guest post” which is, as you can see, why that keyword anchor is currently linking to that post.
5. Improving Load Time
If your site takes a long time to load, it’s more likely visitors will bounce before reading your content.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to improve your site's overall load time but these 4 tweaks should be enough to make a major difference:
1. Use the plugin W3 Total Cache as mentioned in the Art Of Authority to optimize your WordPress site’s performance.
2. Install a plugin called WP Database Optimizer. No configuration required, just set it and forget it. This plugin clears out any unnecessary data from your database, preventing it from loading on your site and slowing it down.
3. Use .png images instead of .jpegs. PNG’s are smaller image files and therefore require less time to load than JPEG’s. I also recommend using a plugin called WP Smush.it which can further reduce the size of your image files.
4. Apply the use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Let me explain how these work: If you’re like us and your site is hosted on Bluehost, then the files that make up your site exist somewhere in the US.
Now let’s say someone from the UK comes to your site. They literally have to connect to your host's server all the way over in the US which takes time.
A CDN is a network of servers that exist all around the world. So when someone comes to your site, they automatically connect to the closest server on the network – decreasing load time in the process.
To make this happen, we use a service called MaxCDN and they cost around $40/year.
My final suggestion is to check your site's load time prior to implementing any of the techniques mentioned above. That way you can see just how effective each one is on decreasing load time. To check the speed of your site, visit http://tools.pingdom.com
That’s right! Get yo’ ass into gear and start working on improving your site's quality score.
Or if you’re yet to build a site, when you do, be sure to start your online career the right way by using the techniques I mentioned.
Nothing, I repeat NOTHING of what I have showed you here is rocket science. It’s all easy to implement and most of the time is set-and-forget.
I’ll leave you with this: The most important part of this process is tracking every change you make by placing notes in Google Analytics.
Panda refreshes normally occur around once a month. If a spike in search traffic appears, take a look at your notes from 30 days prior and see if you made any changes in and around that period.
That way you know if you should continue to make that specific tweak or maybe test out something new.
Remember, SEO is all about testing and measuring, and you can't measure unless you track what you test.