As many of you are probably aware, DaniWeb was hit hard by Google's Panda algorithm update back in February. A news story written by Davey entitled Google Farmer Update: what went wrong? explained that the February 24th Panda algorithm targeted at content farms literally cut DaniWeb's US traffic by half. The global rollout that followed a month later did the same to all of our English-speaking traffic.
On March 3rd, I started a forum thread in Google's Webmaster Central forum as a plea of desperation. A couple hundred responses explained in detail all of the different things that I've done to try to regain Google's trust, along with a back and forth debate with some of the regulars in that forum as to what to do next. I'm going to spare you the details of rehashing everything in this article. You're free to read that forum thread and it basically is a play-by-play of the last two months of my life.
After quite a number of really tough weeks, I'm pleased to finally say that traffic is now on an upswing. The following Google Analytics graph explains it better than I ever could:
The graph indicates a slight dip towards the end of February when just the US was affected by Panda, and then a huge dip when Panda went global. However, you can see that over the past couple of weeks, traffic has been on the upswing, increasing day after day. We're not yet near where we were before Panda, but there definitely is hope that we will get back there soon.
As many of you SEOs are aware, Google releases quite a few hundred algorithm updates over the course of the year. Many algorithm changes have already gone into effect between when Panda first was rolled out and today. Therefore, I can't say without a doubt that our upswing is directly related to us being un-Pandalized in Google's eyes and not due to another algorithm change that was released. In fact, in all honestly, that's probably what it is.
What I'm sure many of you guys are wondering is what it is that I've changed. Well, a lot of things. If you really want to know the nitty gritty of it, check out that forum thread in Webmaster Central. However, in a nutshell, I've worked on removing duplicate content, making use of the canonical tag and better use of 301 redirects, and adding the noindex meta tag to SERP-like pages and tag clouds. I've also done a lot of work on page load times. Interestingly enough, I've discovered that the number of pages crawled per day has NOT decreased in tandem with Panda (surprisingly), but it HAS been directly affected by our page load times.Pages crawled per day:
Time spent downloading a page:
I guess it also goes without saying that it's also important to constantly build backlinks. Like many other content sites out there, we are constantly scraped on a regular basis. A lot of other sites out there syndicate our RSS feeds. It is entirely possible/plausible that Google's Panda algorithm [appropriately] hit all of the low quality sites that were just syndicating and linking back to us (with no unique content of their own), ultimately discrediting half of the sites in our backlink portfolio, killing our traffic indirectly. Therefore, it isn't that we got flagged by Panda's algorithm, but rather that we just need to work on building up more backlinks.
We're working on it. In the meantime, we've stopped the downward trend of traffic decreasing day by day, and we've been on an upward trend for a few weeks now. Hopefully, it will only improve as time goes on.