As Google has evolved over the years, its engineers continue to focus on making search results as relevant to users as possible. Through countless algorithm changes, Google considers hundreds of factors when displaying the most relevant pages at the top of their searches.
Google’s latest update, Panda 4.0, was announced on May 20, creating waves of chatter across the industry. Search Engine Optimizers everywhere were scrambling to understand everything about the algorithm change and how it would affect site traffic and search engine rankings. What were their findings?
The primary focus of Panda 4.0 is to reward sites containing high-quality content by ranking them higher in search results while demoting lower quality sites. This means trustworthy information, original content, and substantial value. If your website is packed with quality content, the Panda algorithm updates can improve your site’s Google rankings. If your site contains questionable content, spelling errors, or too many ads, however, the wrath of our furry little friend can be quite devastating.
If your site traffic has been negatively impacted by the updated algorithm, there are a few key factors that have been widely accepted as crucial mistakes in Panda’s eyes.
Thin content refers to non-original content or nearly non-existent content (too little). Perhaps your site contains pages with very few sentences that aren’t very helpful or unoriginal content that can be found on other sites. Basically, the content does not engage the user and drive him to take action.
Consequently, your website may experience a sudden drop in organic search traffic as an algorithmic penalty related to Panda. To get back on track, review your content and consider replacing it with new and unique content. Remove doorway pages and delete any duplicated content.
Google is highly effective in determining whether or not content is original. If you have a large amount of content copied from other sites, such as an aggregate of blog posts from other sites, the Panda algorithm can tell that a large portion of your website’s content can be found elsewhere. You may also have duplicated content on your own site that can cause problems. If your website has a large number of products for sale, and each product has a different page, that means you have many pages that are essentially the same. Both instances of duplicate content can affect you unfavorably.
The only type of information you present to Google should be your very best. Many site owners believe that quantity trumps quality in terms of search engine rankings, but this can do more harm than good. Pumping out blog post after blog post is meaningless if the quality is poor and no one is engaging with your site. This is not helpful to readers—therefore, not valuable in the eyes of Panda.
If there is anything to take away from the Panda 4.0 update, it’s this: content is king. Still. Even one page with low-quality content can affect your entire site. Ultimately, your goal should be to create unique content that makes the user excited to land on your page and encourages them to share it with others. Instead of focusing on appearing favorable in the eyes of a specific algorithm change, the emphasis should be on creating a site that delivers the best possible user experience. Be purposeful in your content marketing—make sure it’s written for searchers rather than basing it on a guess of what might rank well. Your content should connect you with your customers and foster a relationship based on trust and value.
If you have been hit hard by Panda, take a step back and ask yourself the same questions a customer would when looking at the big picture. Gutting pages with low-quality content or re-writing content to make it more engaging will surely put you on the road to recovery. Panda is updated on a monthly basis over a ten-day period, allowing you to continue improving your site for gradual recuperation.
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Author: Shammi Farook