If all your global sites have low quality links, duplicate content, and are on a subdirectory, then Google's Panda update will likely cause you problems. But don't give up and throw in the towel. You can still get your act together.
This article will give you some insight on some things you can do to mitigate any risk you might be facing and provide some ideas on how to improve your global pages now that up to 20 percent of your competitors may have disappeared.
Assessing Your Pain
Any global search engine optimization (SEO) doctor will first ask you where you feel the most pain. Identifying rank/traffic loss per country is a key strategy. Your site may have lost ranking because of something other than what you initially thought.
Panda's significance is how it views content and links, specifically similar or duplicate content and poor quality links. A thorough assessment of each one of your global sites will give you some insight into where to start and what to start with.
Reviving Your Content
If you've lost positioning with pages that share the same language but didn't lose positioning from your pages that have their own languages, then chances are you got bit by the Panda due to duplicate content.
Remember, duplicate content isn't only because of your English pages. It could also be a conflict between other languages, such as Brazilian Portuguese vs. Portugal's Portuguese or even between Austrian German and German spoken in Germany.
Deduplication will be necessary. Have a content transcriber in your target country re-write the content in your source country. It's time consuming, but well worth it.
Mapping the same keyword to the content is fine, however you might want to de-duplicate your URLs, reduce the amount of AdSense ads you have placed within the content (if any), and while you're at it, make sure to visit Google Webmaster Tools. Google's tools now do a pretty good job geotargeting your URL structures, so if you have a UK subdirectory, telling Google where it's at will help its spiders understand that the UK site is a local standalone site and not part of a content scheme.
Resuscitating Your Link Building Strategy
On the other hand, if you lost positioning and traffic from all of your global sites, it could be due to your link building tactics, especially if you use a subdirectory structure instead of ccTLDs.
A subdirectory structure (e.g., www.example.com/FR/) can face a number of different issues. If you had a link farm in just one country for example, and that link farm pointed to one of your pages, it's likely your whole site would be affected. If you have low quality links pointing to your duplicate UK pages, your U.S. site may suffer.
A ccTLD structure, if you can do it, would help you out a lot at this point. A URL structure like www.example.fr improves trust and engagement with your target audience, and also helps legitimate local link builders point directly to the "correct" site rather than a folder. If you have a subdirectory, make sure to tell Google about it through Webmaster Tools.
The key to it all is planning on making each site useful, relevant and as local as possible to your target market. The days of creating useless duplicated content and participating in link farms are now over.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!