It’s been little over a year since Google decided to roll out dreadful Google Panda algorithm to curb the spammers and improve the search quality. With myriad of automatic tools people have tried to manipulate the SERP result. So called tarnishing and manipulation of SERP results have forced Google to take some harsh steps that has not only affected spammers but thousands of innocent bloggers too. Like many bloggers, I was affected badly and on one scary night I throw in the towel and abandoned my dream blog.
Google has outlined some points to get out of Panda wrath but many small-scale bloggers never managed to get out of it. In an easy to understand language, Google Panda is all about quality content (?), authority backlinks, social engagement and user’s experience while browsing your site. Since the initial Panda update, I tried every possible steps that includes changing host, design, content, redirecting domain to new one etc, but none of them worked. Even, I wasted 3-4 hours per day to find RSS scrapers and copy-pasters to DMCA them, but all in vein.
Finally, a new blog born with all new tactics and link building methods that helped me to regain some of the traffic and my lost confidence in Google. Here are some of the WordPress Plugins and Tips to fight Google Panda.
WordPress As a Blogging Platform
WordPress doesn’t need any introduction. It would be safe to assume that if you’re here then you must be very well aware of WordPress platform. The reason behind using WordPress is that it offers an easy to understand UI and slew of plugins to tweak the settings at will.
WordPress theme plays a vital role in user’s experience which Google mentioned as a few signals to decide the ranking of the blog. Google had rolled out an update specifically designed to target those blogs/ sites with too many ads on upper fold. Extra care should be taken while deciding the right theme for your blog. WordPress has a dedicated repository with quality themes. Alternatively, you can try some paid themes if money is not your concern. Pagelines, Thesis, Swift themes are few themes know for their fast loading time and SEO prowess.
Apart from layout, users should also consider w3c validation and gmatrix data before implementing the theme on live blog.
WordPress Plugins to Thwart Google Panda
Let us assume that you’ve already created a great content but have you optimized the post for best result. WordPress SEO and cache plugins plays an important role in giving you the best possible result. Basic on page SEO factors can be easily controlled and monitored using these plugins. We will discuss them one by one.
Yoast WordPress SEO
If on-page SEO is a rocket science for you, then WordPress SEO plugin will help you to understand the basics of on page SEO factors. From settings option, users can mange different aspects of SEO. Try to fill in all the data with proper information without overdoing it. The section which users should emphasize more is Titles and Indexation section. Understand the use of tags like %%title%%, %%excerpt%%, %%focuskw%% etc. The meaning of all tags have been explained by Yoast at the end of Title Settings section.
Single author blog should wisely select ‘Indexation Rules’. Single author should disable Author archives, date-based archive and subpages of archives and taxonomies under Indexation Rules. Also Hide RSD links and Hide WLW manifest links in case if you’re using remote Windows Live Writer.
RSS section will help to decimate RSS scrapers. In a nutshell, it adds links or content to your RSS which you can utilize to thrash dumb scrapers from scraping your blog content. First of all from Settings->Reading, mark Summary option to display only summary of the post. Now go back to RSS option in Yoast SEO and add ‘This %%POSTLINK%% is written on %%BLOGLINK%%’ in first section.
There is also an ‘Edit Files’ section from where you can manage your .htaccess and robots.txt file. Use robots text file wisely to block unwanted content from being crawled by Google.
In a Post Editor section, WordPress SEO plugin will help you to analyze your content by giving overall score of your article. Go to ‘Page Analysis’ section under it to see how well your content it. The focus keyword section will help you to do limited keyword research and analysis of the post. Although, it is not perfect way to analyze your content it helps up to certain extent. Remember, on-page content plays vital role in saving from Google Panda penalty.
SEO Search Term Tagging
While few bloggers recommend using this plugin, it is certainly a bad tactics to scrap keywords at the bottom of the post. Basically, SEO search term tagging plugin helps you in stuff key term below the post for which you’re getting traffic from Google. Such keyword tagging is a bad practice and should be avoided at any cost. Google over optimization penalty will incur if you keep stuffing the keywords at the bottom of the post. You may have survived from it so far but it doesn’t make you full-proof from future Google Panda update.
SEO Smart Link
SEO smart link is a must have plugin for serious marketers. It will help you to build quality inter links.Inter linking not only guide visitors to appropriate related page but it also helps search engine to crawl the website properly. In a simple term, it will help you to link to other related pages of your blog. This might improve overall user experience and help in reducing the bounce rate.
Related Post Plugin
Related Post plugin doesn’t need any introduction. It is better if you could get the functionality in the theme itself, if not, then you can search for related posts plugin from WordPress. Contextual Related Post, WP-Thumbie, Yet Another Related Posts Plugin are few of the plugins under this category. Similar to interlinking concept, it will help users to navigate through content in efficient manner. It also reduces the bounce rate and overall time on the site. Alternatively, users can try random post plugin or related post with thumbnails. It gives visually appealing related post with thumbnails which subsequently attracts visitors to click on more links.
WP DB Manager
Cleaning up old useless tables and unnecessary entries help in reducing the load time of the blog. Users are advised to optimize the database once in every month.
WP Super Cache
Caching plugin helps in reducing the overall page speed of the blog. It presents static page to the users and search engine which helps in reducing the overall load time. W3 Total cache is yet another caching plugin which works well. It depends on the users choice. Both of them let user’s integrate CDN along with it, which helps users in dealing images, css and other common files efficiently. WP Minify plugin could also be used in conjunction with the above plugin joins CSS and JS together.
Broken Link Checker
Broken link checker or 404 error page checker plugin helps in finding the 404 error page on the blog. Users can either optimize 404 page or use 404 plugin. It is always better to use optimized 404 page. Try to present related post or latest post on 404 page to help users.
Redirection plugin will help in tracking down 404 page and redirecting them to related post. All you’ve to do is to look for 404 page and redirect them from the configuration panel to another post. Users can also find such pages from Google Webmasters tool.
Social Bookmarking Plugin
Social engagement is no brainer. With release of Google+ social network, Google has made its intention clear. In future, social impact or influence will play a vital role in blog’s ranking. Instead of asking users to share your content on other social network, why don’t we step ahead and give them an easy (often one click) option to share our content to wherever they want. One such plugin is Digg Digg which was recently acquired by bufferapp. Apart from that, there are already few plugins available which automatically shares your content to social networking sites as soon as you post them on your site.
It will help in increasing your influence in social networks, which can drive some unexpected traffic too. Along with social bookmarking plugin, you can offer subscribe option or Facebook/ Twitter/ Google+ follow buttons so readers can follow you from their favorite networking sites.
Easy WP SEO, SEOPressor are some of the few paid plugins which will help you to analyze your content. It will give you the score of your content based on keyword density, use of h tags, use in title, meta description, keyword proximity etc. We’ve not included them in this list since not everyone prefers to go for paid plugin. Moreover, they don’t reflect the true score of your content. In case if you’re already using them, try to bring the score near 70-80.
Of course, above plugins and tips alone are not enough to thwart Google Panda effect. Link building has a vital role in one’s search engine ranking. Recently, it is proven that negative SEO works through link building.
Do you know any WordPress Plugin to thwart Panda effect? Let us know your opinion via comment section below.