Q: I have an ecommerce site containing a useful library of product information that the manufacturer allows me to use on my site. My site was hammered in Google’s Panda update, and I think it was because of this “duplicate” content. What should I do now? I don’t want to remove this library because it is useful for my customers.
A: Even though this library of content is genuinely helpful for your site visitors, it could be similar to the low-quality, “stub”, or content farm materials that were punished in Google’s Panda update. To make matters worse, the product information library you’re describing is probably also present on many other sites as well. These two factors are both likely to be viewed negatively in Google’s eyes.
To play it safe, the easiest thing you can do is to deindex all these pages using either the robots.txt file or a robots meta tag on the concerning pages. This way, the materials can still help your website visitors, without putting your site at any risk for Panda issues.
If deindexing the content is not an option, then you should work on improving the content, with an eye toward improving the user engagement on these pages. What can you do to make these pages more unique, more interesting, and more likely to be a satisfying experience for searchers who land on these pages?
Not interested in rewriting hundreds or thousands of pages? Here’s a hybrid approach you might try:
- Deindex any pages that have a 90% or higher bounce rate
- For pages that have better (lower) than 90% bounce rate, work on improving content. Possible ways to improve content:
- manually add your own links to related materials elsewhere on your site. Make them intriguing or attractive enough to encourage visitors to click on them; remember your goal is to engage visitors and prevent bounces.
- manually add commentary/analysis that makes these materials more useful. Be sure this is unique and well written.
- add a prominent Google +1, Facebook Like, and Tweet button
- In addition to these steps, you should also pursue other SEO efforts, especially link-building, in order to gain stature in the Post-Panda search world.
Like any SEO effort, approach your Panda recovery with an iterative mindset. Make some changes, watch for results over a several-week period, and repeat. And a final word of wisdom: Keep the user experience a priority, and you can’t go wrong.