How I Survived (and Thrived) Under Google Panda

I don’t do anything for SEO. Not only do I not do anything, but I actively advocate doing nothing for bloggers (and only bloggers. I think SEO is really important for some businesses).

After the Google Panda update hit the I didn’t really pay much attention because there wasn’t much I could do about it. Over the last several months there have been other updates from Google all directed at weeding out content farms and putting an emphasis on quality content. During that time I was running around Europe and I didn’t look at the analytics data for my site for several months.

Well, the last few days I’ve been diving back into my analytics and to my surprise, my total search engine traffic has almost doubled since the Google Panda update!! Assuming that August numbers continue on the current path over the next two weeks, my total search traffic will have DOUBLED since the end of 2010.

What did I do to get this increase in traffic?


I didn’t do a god damn thing.

I do not claim to be an SEO expert, but I can guess as to why I would have benefited under Panda and other sites would have suffered. Here are some of the things which might have helped me:

  • I have good links. I have links from some very high quality sites like,,, etc. These are HUGE signals to Google that my site can be trusted.
  • I haven’t pissed Google off. I don’t sell links, I don’t do sponsored posts. I don’t do anything black hat or really even grey hat.
  • I have real readers. I have over 1000 followers on Google Buzz, 700 on Google FriendConnect and over 14,000 on Feedburner (which is owned by Google). I have a large social media footprint on Facebook and Twitter as well. About 1/3 of my search traffic is people looking for me or my website. My biggest source of traffic is organic traffic of people coming directly to my site. All of these are signals to Google which says “this site is the real deal”. Oddly enough, everything I’ve done to make my site Google-proof I think helps me in the eyes of Google.
  • I almost never use nofollow links. Why link to something in the first place if you don’t trust it? Too many nofollow links probably smacks of gaming the system. I link freely and openly.
  • I post only original content. 99% of the images on my site are photos I’ve taken. I don’t republish things from other sites, even if I wrote it. (I have republished a few of my articles on other sites, however).

I’ve done a few site wide changes that will probably help things even more. I’ve improved page load time and fixed how I do titles for blog posts. Again, even those changes aren’t SEO changes per se, they are just good practices for any site.

I think the solution to doing well under Panda is simple: have real readers with real social signals, and don’t try to game Google.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

4 replies on “How I Survived (and Thrived) Under Google Panda”

Intriguing… now I’m going to have to go back and look at my numbers, especially since I’m in a very similar boat as you, Gary. I produce only original content (travel content, actually), i almost never use nofollow, I have real readers (not nearly as much as you do, but growing everyday), and I haven’t ticked google off.

Now I just have to work on providing more and more value which will drive word of mouth, help increase my visibility, and eventually lead to some extreme-reputation links, the likes of you mention above.

But the main bit is providing great content, so thanks for outlining some of your thoughts on this, Gary. I enjoyed it 🙂

Interesting. I was actually gob-smacked by Panda even though everything on my site is original — and I’d like to think, quality — content. Except images, which mostly come from I’m working at improving my site speed, which I hope will help.

I got whacked by the Panda myself aswell…

I’ve recently been looking for ways around the Google Panda update and I’ve done alot of analysis on my own web sites.
Below are several key points to take into account:

1) minimize bouncerate on your sites
2) get rid of/nofollow/noindex thin and low quality pages
3) boost Ctr in the SERPS (E.g implement crazy call to actions and stuff inside your page titles)
4) offer a lot more increased value on your site (boost visitors onpage time)
5) interlink your website through optimized anchor texts
6) use a privacy policy, about us, contact us, google maps location, SSL, address/phone number, images, subtiles, paragraphs, bulletpoints etc etc (all “possible” added quality elements you can think of)
7) Achieve more quality inbound links with good anchor text variation.

Link-building must be done in a very diverse and consistent approach.

Another thing, I am a beta tester for LinkALoha at the moment and I am seeing GREAT results. I think they are going to open a few new spots soon, you guys should take a look. Those guys are great

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