Everytime you upload an image using the WYSIWYG interface of WordPress, WP generates an image attachment page for each and every single image and puts a link to this page from the article where you put this image. Now, this can prove to be a real mess and can even get your blog hit by Google’s one of the most loved animals, Panda.
Yes, you heard it right? Even uploading an image can lead to penalization. Rather, I must say that this is one of the biggest technical fallacies by both WordPress and Google that can spoil all your hard work and trigger red flags from the search engines.
daPazze got badly hit by the Panda, a few months back due to this problem of Image Attachment pages with WordPress. Suddenly, just after the Panda rolled out its new update, I started seeing drastic decrease in my traffic. Things started getting too worse. Then I thought to investigate to find the root cause of this problem. And I found that Google have indexed around 2K pages of my blog, and the funny part is that my blog only has around 200 pages.
Now where from does this extra 1.8K pages come from. Digging deep into this matter, and doing lots of research, I finally found that, the main problem was with Image Attachment pages that WordPress has wrongly created for all the images I have uploaded in my blog.
Such a huge volume of thin content (low quality) content in my blog, got it justifiably hit by the Panda.
Good job, Panda. Now it’s time to show what tigers and lions can do.
Understanding The Problem Of It’s Depths
Whenever you use the WYSIWYG image Uploader in WordPress to upload any image in your post, WordPress silently creates a dedicated page for that image, known as the Image Attachment page. This page doesn’t have any content except the image itself. Thus, it is surely a perfect example of low-quality content.
Suppose, you write a post, http://dapazze.com/2012/example-post/ and upload an image with the filename “image-test”, then what WordPress will do is that it will create an another page having the URL http://dapazze.com/2012/example-post/image-text/. Now, this page doesn’t have any valuable content in it for your readers. It just contains a single image, and nothing else.
Now, suppose you have 100 posts in your blog and at an average you have used 3 images for every post. It may be higher, or it may be lower, but just take an example for the sake of understanding. Then WordPress will do an excellent job of creating 300 separate pages for each of these individual images and get then all indexed in Google.
Now, in Google’s eyes your site has, 100 good quality content-rich pages and 300 low-quality pages with only a single image which doesn’t add any value to your readers. So, then Panda gets happier than before, and brings your blog down for too many low-quality content.
How Much Does It Hurt?
Yeah, it really hurts your blog. For this you need to understand, what the Panda update is all about. The Panda focuses on-site rather than off-site SEO aspects. Like, it analyses your quality of the content, site’s SEO structure, spelling and grammar, broken links, etc. Rather than focusing on backlinks, social signals, etc. It is for the other animals, like Penguin to deal with.
So, as I mentioned before, 300 low-quality posts in a blog of 400 pages, is a terrible case. But, fortunately you have not done anything wrong by your own. It’s a technical fallacy and you are its unlucky victim. The ratio of high-quality to low-quality posts in 100:300 or 1:3, that is out of 4 posts you write, 3 are considered low-quality by Google. So, it’s time for some serious Panda action.
I had lost, around 60-70% of my blog’s organic traffic. Not only had I lost my valuable traffic, but also potential sponsors and advertisers, thereby hampering my monthly income to a considerable extent. But I didn’t make a single mistake that resulted in all this.
And The Blame Goes To….
WordPress and even Google. Personally I do not consider this to be your own fault in any way. Your only fault is that you didn’t know about it from beforehand, and didn’t take necessary steps to prevent it.
(Image Source: SpeakerText.Com)
Firstly, WordPress is the biggest culprit behind all this mess. It generates a useless Image attachments page for each and every single image you upload. Ok, for the sake of this debate, let me take that this image attachments pages may have some functionality in certain special WordPress sites.
But, why not put a “noindex” tag on it. What’s the point of indexing them in Google. These are extremely thin content, and adds no value to your site, so why index and count them as even part of your site and ruin your entire site’s authority.
(Image Source: Hongkiat.Com)
Secondly, Google should also get the blame to some extent. Google should understand that these pages are Image attachment pages that are generated by WordPress, and should not be shown in the SERPs in any way.
WordPress is such a popular CMS, and there are millions of blogs made of WordPress, then Google should understand and distinguish between these Image Attachment pages as low-quality pages and not count them while profiling your site. At least, Google should not penalize a site based on these grounds. At least this much intelligence is expected from the largest search engine in the world.
Time To Recover…
Now, after all this discussion, lets come to the main part, that is the recovery part. There can be two cases – taking curative measures, if you are a victim, or taking preventive measures, if you don’t want to be.
The best curative measure, possible is to manually “deindex” all these Images attachment pages from the search results. Just do a “site:domain.com” search in Google, and it will show you how many image attachments URL’s have you got in Google’s index. Now, select a particular URL, go to Google Webmasters Central and use the Remove URL option to permanently remove them from Google’s index.
But, do not overuse it. Suppose if you have thousands of such image attachment pages, then do not try to remove them all in 1-2 days. Rather, try to divide them in small groups, and then remove them slowly. There is no harm in using this tool to remove these links permanently from Google’s index. And I personally have experienced that this is the fasted way to recover from the Panda hit.
If due to some reason, following the above mentioned procedure is not possible by you, then consider the preventive measures as the curative ones.
Now it’s time to prevent, this mess from happening again. Or if you are not a victim already, then you must read this to ensure the protection of your blog from being hit by the Panda.
The best way to prevent this is to, install the SEO by Yoast plugin and use the “Redirect attachment URL’s to a parent post URL.” option. I can say that, SEO by Yoast is one of the best SEO plugins I have ever used, and it is a must-use plugin for any blog. What it will do is that, it will put a 301-redirect in the image attachment pages, so that not only the visitors but also the link juice is also transferred from these attachment pages to the parent post, where it was meant to be.
Using these curative and preventive measures is enough for you to tackle with this mess. Not only this, you have also gained in-depth knowledge about this problem, so that you can prevent this from happening again in future. This is really a very small and simple problem, but its effects are terrible. Vested with this knowledge, you can either recover your blog if it has been already hit by the Panda, or can prevent this from happening to your blog in future and prevent loosing valuable traffic.