Google Panda & low quality pages

We quite often find sites that have become a victim of Google Panda’s algorithm, or run the risk of getting “Pandalized”. A site runs the risk of being hit by Panda when it has a lot of low quality pages. In this post I want to give you some quick insights into what Google Panda is and how you can prevent from getting hit by it.

What is Google Panda?

A quick intro by yours truly on what Google Panda is:

How to fix low quality pages

In all, Panda usually affects your site because you have too many low quality pages as a proportion of your overall number of pages. So you need to fix your low quality pages in order for that ratio to become healthy again. You can fix problems with low quality pages in two ways:

  1. You improve the content and quality of these pages. This means adding more well written content, but it often also means making sure you don’t have too many ads on the page and improve the UX of the page.
  2. You remove these low quality pages or disallow the search engine access to the pages. This last method is often called a “Panda diet”

Identifying which low quality pages to fix

Whether you decide to improve your content or to remove your low quality pages, you need to know where to start. The best way to identify pages that need fixing is to look at pages on your site that have very few visitors and/or a very high bounce rate. These are pages that aren’t ranking or that aren’t doing anything for your overall site’s performance because people go away from these pages too quickly.

There are a couple of tools that can help you identify which low quality pages need fixing. The one I like most for smaller to medium sized sites is Screaming Frog. When you’ve opened it, you can connect to a site’s Google Analytics data and then have Screaming Frog crawl the site, after which you can sort by bounce rate. There are also some filters to show you pages above 70% bounce rate (which really is too high) and pages that have no GA data because nobody visited those pages…

It’s important to note that sometimes, a bounce doesn’t mean something’s wrong. On our knowledge base, if a page has a high bounce rate, the reason usually is that it solved the problem. So people didn’t do anything else because they didn’t have to. So you really have to go into the pages you’ve identified with these methods and evaluate their individual quality.

Improve or remove?

Once you’ve identified which pages on your site needs fixing, you need to start thinking about whether you want to improve or remove them. Usually, you’ll end up doing a bit of both. Pages that target keywords that truly matter to you should just be improved. If other pages are targeting keywords that are not interesting enough to your business, or they’re not targeting anything at all, get rid of them. You can choose to no index them, thereby preventing Google from showing them in the index, but I honestly think you’re usually better off deleting pages like that.

Read more: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

Coming up next!

15 Responses to Google Panda & low quality pages

  1. David
    David  • 9 years ago

    Screaming Frog is a great tool, it’s a shame it’s built with Java though as it likes to use a lot of memory when doing deep analysis. Isn’t it getting to that time of year when Pandas come out of hibernation?

  2. Matthew
    Matthew  • 9 years ago

    Thanks for the link to Screaming Frog Joost. This is the first time I have seen it That is a nice little tool for anyone to use on there website and find common mistakes that hurt SEO.

  3. Nigel Abery
    Nigel Abery  • 9 years ago

    Panda is a strange beast to understand. My observations, I see what might be considered as bamboo, small amount of text that is not very informative, still ranked highly by G. Presumably it has something to do with being a big brand (maybe good click though due to the brand recognition) and having a high DA. Also, local pack – now snack pack search results appears less prone to a Panda attack than other searches. Is that what you are also seeing?

    • Joost de Valk

      Local is a separate index and separate search results from “normal” Google search, and I don’t think Panda impacts that, indeed.

  4. Neo Ni
    Neo Ni  • 9 years ago

    Yesterday on Twitter Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes was tweeting on the same topic, according to him better if we improve the content of low quality pages rather than completely removing it. We should follow him.

    Your post is prior to this his statements and very informative. Keep sharing. :)

    • Joost de Valk

      Actually I think what they’re saying is: don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I honestly you should delete pages that add no value. If they do add value, but not enough, improve upon them.

  5. scott mcfee
    scott mcfee  • 9 years ago

    how do I know if my site has been crawled by panda?
    can I stop panda from crawling my site?
    how do I know what panda does not like?
    how can I get panda to re crawl after I fix what they dont like?

    • Joost de Valk

      Panda doesn’t crawl your site, Google does. You can check your logs for that but Panda is an algorithm within Google, not a self sustaining thing.

  6. Muhammad Imran
    Muhammad Imran  • 9 years ago

    Thank you Yoast for providing such as nice information. To handle my sites SEO field your plugin Yoast SEO is enough for me. Now, I am planning to improve my pages that are getting no visitors/pagviews. This is really a nice article.

    M Imran

  7. Henry Ramirez
    Henry Ramirez  • 9 years ago

    I think google is killing a lot of hard worker bloguer with this updates, beacuse you may not that popular…not because you pages, if not because you may be a new it will be hard for those that wan to be rank on panda is just to make and keep site owners to paying for seo services and giving more hard work to site owners.

  8. Parte
    Parte  • 9 years ago

    thank you. very wonderfulll article and plugin. yoast is the best

  9. Valerie Lancaster
    Valerie Lancaster  • 9 years ago

    In today’s Website Magazine ( The feature article was Web Design Mistakes that kill rankings. They listed about the need to Group Keywords – “2. Not Grouping Keywords – Keyword stuffing should have gone out in the 1990s and for the most part it has but there is another keyword issue that is still prevalent today. In order to rank in years past you would often need a separate page for each variation of your keywords. After 2014 updates, Google now looks at the overall topic of a page meaning you can rank a single page for several keywords. Your designer should no longer be adding hundreds of pages to target variations of a single keyword, instead they should create a plan for grouping similar keywords.” Your WordPress Plugin doesn’t really allow for grouping of Keywords . . . will it in the future or what’s your thoughts?

    • Joost de Valk

      We’re working on getting some options there :)

  10. Jenna
    Jenna  • 9 years ago

    But I have read that we should never use these tools like screaming frog when we have google analytics for all the major and minor issues of our site. I know it doesn’t give an in depth issue like MOZ and some other tools do, but still… it was written there that never get your site crawled through such tools.

    • Joost de Valk

      It gives other info than Moz but not less, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with crawling your own site…