How to Recover from Panda

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Post on 21-Jan-2015



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Theres been a lot written on the subject of how to recover your website from the Google panda penalty but not many people Ive seen have actually done it. One man who has is Andy at Make Money Ninja and in this revealing interview he tells us how its done. Visit:


<ul><li> 1. cont ent All talk of SEO aside, how cute is this? Loz James How To Recover From Panda With Andy of Make Money Ninja Theres been a lot written on the subject of how to recover your website f rom the Google panda penalty but not many people Ive seen have actually done it. One man who has is Andy at Make Money Ninja and in this revealing interview he tells us how its done. I also talked to Andy about whats currently working in SEO, the content arms race and building your online business. Enjoy 1. For readers who dont know youAndy, could you outline where you blog and what your online business model/philosophy is please? Sure, I blog at The site is basically my personal blog where I talk about SEO and running online content businesses. My core business model is the same. I run multiple websites in the iGaming industry based almost purely on SEO as a traf f ic source. My main business philosophy is around being prolif ic. I honestly believe I am one of the hardest working people in the industry and I perf orm a lot better than my competition not by knowing </li></ul><p> 2. anything unique or amazing, but by working harder on my business than them. 2. Again, for people reading who might not know about Google panda, could you explain a bit of the background on this and how it differs from the penguin penalty? Panda is a Google algorithm that was designed to separate sites with good content and bad content. Its been Googles attempt to weed poor quality and spammy sites f rom the index. Its almost purely based around on- page f actors and the user experience visitors get. Penguin on the other hand is a newer algorithm that was released to target link spam and webmasters manipulating the core of Googles algorithm. In short it penalizes webmasters with unnatural link prof iles. 3. Before we get into your panda recovery strategies, could you tell us where youd got to with your online business before your sites tanked. You were making a six-figure income I believe? Yeah I was doing quite well bef ore I suf f ered a bunch of penalties over the last two years, some I recovered f rom and some I didnt. 4. What SEO techniques were you deploying to rank your sites pre-panda? Pre panda everything about SEO was simple. It was just about content and links. Get as much content on your site as possible, targeting as many keywords as possible, then get as many links of whatever kind to your site. It was easy to rank, all it took was a little bit of hard work. Now SEOs have to jump through many more hoops in terms of quality and need to watch out f or Panda, Penguin and other algorithmic f ilters. It really has gotten a lot tougher to stay ranked over the long term. 5. Ok, so we get to the day your sites started to crash when the panda penalty hit was it a gradual process or did they all tank at once? I would say the process has been gradual. Since Panda was launched I have had multiple sites be penalized by various iterations of Panda. Because I have quite a lot of sites, I will of ten get a couple of them drop with each Google update/data ref resh. At the same time I will of ten have a f ew recover as well. So f or the most part it is a mixed bag with my mini sites. I do however have a couple of authority sites in the niche I target. These are large sites of between 100 and 2000 pages and have had a lot of work and investment go in to each one, so when I suf f er a penalty with these sites its kind of a big deal because each site is earning me over 4-f igures a month. 3. Thanks for your input Darth. 6. Obviously, you were using some aggressive SEO strategies on your money sites, but what slammed them hardest and why? I think with most major updates, like most people, I see a big f lux in my sites traf f ic, some doing better and some doing worse. No single Panda or Penguin update has completely wiped me out or dramatically ruined my business. The thing that makes really competitive industries like casino, poker and other iGaming industries dif f erent is that that no natural links exist, period. Well let me rephrase that, its possible to get natural links and PR in some cases. But the actual rewards f or doing that in these industries will just be dwarf ed and spammers, link buyers and intelligent SEOs will outrank you. I know this sounds a little bit cynical, but the tactics like link outreach that are the pillar of white hat SEO dont really work in this niche as well as others. Af ter all, who wants to link to an online casino review, or a site about a poker bonus code, quite simply no one does. But to answer your original question, the main tactics that tanked my sites were: Low quality, thin content. Mass links, f rom bad neighbourhoods with optimized anchor text. Too many af f iliate links onsite. Essentially in order to rank you need to break the rules in this niche. So its all about breaking the rules in the smartest and most intelligent way to create a sustainable and prof itable business. In order to do that I have basically created a strategy that works around creating my massive authority sites that are very non aggressive and unlikely to get penalized. And then creating various churn and burn satellite sites with the main aim of ranking f or a f ew individual keywords, not spending too much time on them, and just f ocusing on a good ROI. 7. What exactly have you done to recover from the panda penalties on your site, and how did you work this out. Has your income returned to what it was before? 4. On the sites that have been penalized, the ones that I havent been able to get back tend to be my small sites. Once these sites are penalized either f or bad links or Panda related f actors, its almost impossible to get them back without making some huge changes and making the site much better. These sites I tend to let die and just leave them like that. The sites I have recovered have been my large authority sites. The main things I have changed on these sites to get them ranking again are: Increasing content length and helpf ulness. De-optimize content and target keywords less aggressively. More images and rich media. Responsive themes. Less af f iliate links and adverts. Personally, I think the easiest way to get a site un-penalized is to look at a selection of sites that will never get penalized by Google and copy the page f ormatting aspects of these sites, as well as how the content is structured. This will ultimately lead to you create a site that is 1) f lat out better than it used to be and resonates with humans, and 2) Google will algorithmically reward, or at the very least, not penalize. Ive written more detail about this process on my blog here. 8. Whats the best strategy going forward, short-term churn and burn SEO on small money- makers, or long-term white hat brand building on authority sites whats your take on this? Right now I implement both strategies. Although Google is heading in a direction that is making it harder f or churn and burners to rank, you can never tell what they are going to do next. Personally I have had several sites that were banished just pop up again ranking f irst page in the last f ew months, and when I look at them objectively, I know these sites should not rank, yet they do. But at the same time, the trend is clear; these sites wont be around f or the long term, I can almost guarantee that. I think what is cool about my own personal strategy though is that these satellite sites are a great way f or me to: Test out what is working and not working with aggressive SEO. Launder links and create good properties to link back to my less aggressive authority sites. The second part is key. Lets say I have XYZ casino authority site, getting natural and good links to that site is actually very hard due to the niche. Sure I can reverse engineer my competitors prof ile and steal their best links, which I do, but at a certain point you are all getting (or purchasing) the same links, so you have no competitive edge. At that point, if I create my own network of satellite sites, by pointing aggressive links at them, I create some kind of buf f er between my less aggressive, long-term sites and my aggressive short terms sites. I call this strategy link laundering and allows me to get the link juice f rom other sites without taking huge risks with my authority sites. Personally I f ind this strategy ef f ective, although you have to be very clued in and good at SEO to get away with this. I would not endorse this strategy f or a newbie, quite simply because the amount of ef f ort needed to create something like this is hard, the money investment is large overall and you have to be very intelligent and not make quite a f ew easy mistakes. 5. Bit aggressive but you get the point. Other than this, the only other sustainable strategy I see working is creating huge authority sites, with lots of good content and be very non aggressive with links and do everything by the book. If you can create good sites, this is basically the only way to do things without risking penalization. Doing churn and burn sites on their own is simply not a good long-term business model. I am sure some people can do it, and I have respect f or anyone who can do it as a f ull time business, I just f ind it very risky, and a hard way to get long-term returns, so I would not recommend that. 9. What SEO and link building strategies do you see working going into 2014 are social media signals and other factors now gaining more importance? Right now I think we have a content arms race. Creating large sites that are f requently updated with content the algorithm thinks is good is important. When it comes to link building a lot of the low quality link methods are becoming more and more inef f ective. At a certain point in the next f ew years, almost all automated tools will become more and more inef f ective to the point where its not worth spending your time using them. For example, take a tool like SE Nuke, a couple of years ago it was quite easy to rank a site purely with that tool, now its possible (not out of the box) but the ef f ectiveness in general is going down as time goes on. So over the next couple of years I am almost positive we will see diminishing returns with automated tools. Right now high PR/PA authority links are still working. The core of the algorithm hasnt changed all that much. Links still matter; its just the right type of links that are important. Private networks, link purchases, press releases, guest posting and all that still work. As f or social signals, I cant say that they have had a massive positive ef f ect on my sites. I f eel like they are still much less important than links. I have also f ound them temporary in nature, so the positive ef f ects dont seem to last long, unless you are getting say a constant drip of new signals. 6. 10. Whats your view on producing high quality content does it really make a difference writing magazine quality 3000 word multi-media posts, or can you still rank a thin page with the right links? You can rank thin pages even without links if they are sitting on a domain that has a lot of authority/trust and is linked well internally. In general content length is not that important. How users respond to the content is much more important than its length. I have pages on my main sites ranking with 200 words and some with 2000 words. I just write the appropriate amount to cover a topic well. I generally try to create sites that are a good user experience and get lots of page views. So to me, the design, structure and setup of the site is actually a lot more important compared to the length of the content. Generally speaking I try to better my competitors. So lets say I am writing an article on XYZ topic, I will load up the query in Google, see what they cover, then do the exact same thing but a little bit better. This is not really an SEO decision (Although it helps) but just because I want my sites to be better than my competitors. On top of that, doing this practice will almost always lead to good on-page SEO, because you will unwittingly create content that is similar to the content already ranking, which will probably use lots of LSI terms, synonyms, co-occurring terms that the algorithm deems important on-page. 11. What advice would you give someone new to this who wants to start making a full time income building affiliate sites can it still be done? Not only can it still be done. Now is a great time to get started. This is f or a couple of reasons, the main ones being: A lot of your competition is either penalized or has given up. Its a lot harder now (More barriers = more rewards f or the best). Google seems to be over rewarding f reshness, at least in my industry anyway. My biggest tips would be spend an allocated amount of time researching things and getting up to speed with everything SEO related, make a plan and then get to action. I think the most important thing though is to pick the right niche. A lot of people talk about doing something you are passionate about. For me though, a lot of the things I am passionate about are either ridiculously competitive or there is very little money in them. Personally I am quite passionate about business, so the topic of my websites is not that important. I def initely go where the money is. For example, its possible f or someone to make a living in my niche with a website that gets just 100 visitors a day. When you attack money niches, which have visitor values of over 1 per visitor, its impossible not to make money if you build a site that gets traf f ic. A lot of the keywords I rank f or charge an Adwords CPC of 10-20 per click, which when I end up ranking f or them, you dont need much traf f ic to do well. On top of that I would suggest they look f or some kind of industry that has continuity-based revenue. Most of my income is based on recurring revenue. The people I sign up to services, keep using them month in month out and I make money over and over again. If my SEO business was to collapse I would undoubtedly take a big 7. This is actually terrifying and will hopefully never happen. hit, but I would have enough recurring income to rebuild bef ore it drops too f ar. 12. Im fascinated; youre incredibly hard working at this thats what sets you apart so how does your average working day pan out? My average working day is pretty simple. For the most part its either creating content or building links. The content side could be anything f rom writing product reviews to creating YouTube screencast videos. The link building side could be purchasing links, researching what my competitors are doing (And copying them obviously), managing my own blog networks/mini sites, or looking through SEO f orums f or new potential link building sources. I try to keep a to-do list, which I update as I go along and I add new item...</p>