There has been a buzz about an update called “Panda” to the Google search algorithm. It is also called “Farmer” in the news media. It has many website owners, online businesses and Internet Marketers frantically wondering what effect it will have on their business.
The change is designed to reduce the rankings of low-quality sites. What is a “low-quality” site? Sites with little or no original content, content copied from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. The update will benefit high quality sites that provide a good user experience. Sites with good original content, in-depth analysis, useful reports, interesting research and the like, should see better search engine rankings.
The big question many people ask is this: “Will Google consider my site ‘low quality’ and penalize my site with a low ranking?”
Google seems to “play it close to the vest” with what seem to be intentionally ambiguous answers. Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google gives general guidelines, but nothing too specific. With the size of the web and huge variety of websites, getting too detailed would cause a great deal of questions and anxiety among website owners. So we are left to trial and error and sharing our results.
Here is the main goal of the Panda: “Thou shalt not run a website that is a content farmer”. This begs the question “what is considered a content farm?”
News sites are a good example of content farms since many are simply aggregator sites. The DrudgeReport.com gets over 35,000,0000 hits a week and publishes no original content. Will their ranking be affected? Frankly, I don’t think it matters since the site is so well established, but smaller sites could certainly feel the impact.
Article directories and press release sites are two examples of sites typically considered content farms. Article directories receive articles from submission services that submit the same articles to literally hundreds of other article directories. Ditto for press release sites.
But chances are your site is a legitimate business, often a brick and mortar business with an online presence, and not a directory. So how will the update affect your site?
While low quality sites will certainly be affected, sites that offer unique, quality content are experiencing an improvement in their search engine rankings. Better rankings mean more traffic and more revenue.
Here are some practical tips you can implement in your business to get the best results from Google Panda:
1. Content is still King!
Good quality, original content will yield the best results. What you know about your business, industry or market is your most valuable asset. Create good blog posts, web pages or articles using what you already know… just don’t make it into a sales pitch. Just write about what you know and you will probably meet your visitor’s expectations. A little controversy helps, too!
Focus on making your content:
- Educational / informative
These are 3 key elements for good content.
2. Humans first and search engines second
If you or your SEO specialist is focused on keyword stuffing (I’m not talking about keyword targeting, but keyword stuffing, which is different) or any other gray or black hat techniques to “game” the search engines, knock it off. Next algorithm change could destroy all your work. Good content that is still keyword targeted, meant for humans, will give you the best results in the near and long term.
3. Check your old content
Do you have old, stale or out-dated content? You may want to freshen it up. I wouldn’t delete it since you may have links to the page, but add some updates. If you have duplicate content, delete it or rewrite it. Not sure if you have duplicate content? http://www.copyscape.com/ is a good resource to check for duplicate content.
4. Social Media
Effective use of social media provides proof that people like your site and your content. This is very powerful. If you see and article that dozens of people “Like” with the Facebook thumbs up, you may want to take a look at it. Google notices too and indexes Facebook. If you have not figured out how to use social media, now would be a good time to outsource that task to an experienced SEO firm. In fact, you can give this article a “Thumbs Up” at the bottom if you like it, and I hope you do.
What is the verdict?
For news aggregators, affiliate marketers and others who use copied web pages, article directories and the like, it could be game over, or time for a change in strategy at least. Google Panda is a friend to those of us creating quality content for our visitors.