canuckseo - 3:53 pm on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)
I've been holding off because I wanted to be sure that my changes were having an impact and I'm happy to say they are - my traffic IS recovering after some changes. I've also been speculating since I know other people's sites have made similar changes without recovery. So here's what I did:
2) Rewriting pages. This is where my speculation begins because after weeks of testing I found a "formula" which appears specific to sites like ours - I rewrote the pages to be between 300 and 400 words (up from 100-200 words). Every site that I've done so far has recovered to about 60% of pre-panda 2.2 traffic (panda 2.2 was the only one to hit us) and continues to climb. Interestingly, after panda1 our traffic began a dramatic climb - up 30-40% - every panda change up to 2.2 brought us more traffic. So essentially we are back to pre-panda1 levels.
3) External link building - we began external link building on a group of sites and HAVEN'T rewritten the pages on them - there has been a small bump in traffic but not as extensive as those with re-written content. WMT is slowly picking up on the new links so I expect we'll see larger increases as time goes on.
So my speculation is this - Panda definitely IS a site-specific algo which is why it is only periodically run. Can you imagine the power required to run such a sophisticated algo on a more regular basis?
Because it is site-specific the "rules" are different for each site, which is why I think 300-400 words is appropriate for us, but may not work for everyone. Shorter definitely does not work as it used to for us(because sites I haven't rewritten have not recovered as quickly as sites I did). And longer doesn't work as well - pages seem to drop further with longer pages.
Also, sites which used to have higher authority pre-panda, but also haven't had descriptions re-written seem to be continuing to slide. For example, in WMT I'm seeing the links back from these sites to others dropping over the weeks. My feeling is that since they were authority sites pre-panda, the links were worth more. Post panda their authority has dropped therefore their link value is less and fewer of their pages are getting indexed and ranking.
So the combination of "new" links and longer descriptions is having a positive impace, however the descriptions are having greater impact than the links at this point.
One other thing I noticed - our average bounce rate was 25% pre panda1 the jumped to 80%. after Panda2 it dropped to 15%. Once we started change descriptions it dropped even further - to average 10%. Somehow it is related, but not sure why. All I know is these are the numbers pre, during and post Panda.