google-panda-update is an indie music site that started back in 2005.  The site has been a great resource for many unsigned artists to gain exposure over the years.

Unfortunately, it was hit by Google’s Panda Update, drastically reducing its organic search traffic for many months.

Panda was released by Google on February 23rd, 2011 in an effort to reduce the amount of “thin content” sites ranking in the search results.  Since that time, they have released numerous updates.  So, even if you escaped the wrath of Panda when it was first introduced, you can still get nailed by a later iteration.

Panda hit twice, once with Panda 3.5 (update #13) on April 19, 2012 and again with Panda Update #21 on November 5th 2012.Google Panda Recovery


Traffic Drop from Panda

Traffic Drop from Panda


Here are the things we focused on that led to a recovery from Panda 4.0.

  • Reduce the amount of indexed pages
  • Ensure all pages offer unique value



Reduce Google Indexation – Fix “Index Bloat”


In May of 2012, there were 359,000 pages indexed by Google.  The number of indexed pages needs to represent the amount of quality pages on the site, which is far less than 359,000.  Having more pages indexed than you should is often referred to as “index bloat”.

After going through the site extensively, it was clear that there were lots of duplicate content issues and thin content pages.  To remedy this, we used 301 redirects, resolved some pages to 404 errors, and added NOINDEX, FOLLOW and canonical tags where appropriate.

To speed along the indexation process, we submitted extra sitemaps to Google Webmaster Tools and used their URL Removal tool frequently.

These days, there are only a few thousand URLs being indexed, which was the goal — but this was the easy part.



Ensure Unique Value to All Pages


Since Panda targets low-quality content, we had to make sure that the pages listed on the site were of high quality.

After analyzing the content, it was evident there was a big problem with the profile pages used for bands and artists that sign up to MadeLoud.

Looking at the screenshot of an artist’s profile page at MadeLoud today shows plenty of unique content.  There are specific questions for artists to answer, which not only allows for unique content, but adds value.


Unique Content

User-Generated Unique Content


The thing is, these pages weren’t always like this.  Before, there was just a fill-it-in Bio section, which most artists simply copy/pasted from either their Facebook page, or one of their many other online music profiles.  This added to a lot of duplicate content.  Replacing the fill-it-in Bio sections with specific questions (as well as offering an incentive to fill them in), created a lot of unique value to these profile pages.

Another thing we did to beef up the band and musician profile pages was to make a strong push for user comments.

Most of the songs that are uploaded are free download.  Users listen and download music and leave without adding new unique content.  So, we decided to ask users if they would like to leave comments.  The popup you see below only appears when you download a track.  Encouraging comments like this greatly increased the amount of overall comments on the site.  These responses would then appear on the artist profile pages, once again, adding more unique content.


Popup asking you to leave a comment

Leave Comment Popup

Asking for User Comments



Fast-forward to Panda 4.0 and organic traffic has shot up a whopping 150%, along with keyword rankings across the board.


Google Panda Recovery

Google Panda 4.0 Recovery



There were a lot of improvements made along the way, but in the end, I strongly believe that recovery came from two things…

1) Reducing the amount of indexed page to only pages that mattered.

2) Making sure that the pages in use all provided unique quality to the users.

Further Reading: Have you been penalized by Google?

Clint Henderson

Clint Henderson

Inbound Marketing Strategist at Wired SEO
Seasoned internet marketing consultant, founder of Wired SEO, digital marketing company specializing in SEO, Paid Search, and Social Media Marketing.
Clint Henderson
5 replies
  1. Andrei
    Andrei says:


    About your first important improvement: 1) Reducing the amount of indexed page to only pages that mattered.

    Do you also used robots.txt (to block these pages) or rel=”nofollow” (for internal links to these pages) besides meta noindex tag?


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