Google Panda and the Content Siren Song

May 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

Ah, the late 90’s…what an innocent time that may have seemed.  Many of us were living Semi-Charmed Lives, trying to find The Way as we tried to Take A Picture while Learning to Fly on our way to Walkin’ on the Sun.

What do all of those things have in common, besides trying to mash up as many references to late 90’s songs as possible in one sentence?  I found all of those song titles with a quick search on Google, which has become as dominating a brand name for search as Coke and Nike are to their respective industries. Since starting in the late 90’s, Google has lived by an unofficial motto of “Don’t Be Evil“, although a recent change to the Google algorithm called “Panda” has one small company wondering if that is exactly the case.

In a recent story featured on National Public Radio, the change to Google’s Algorithm (called Panda) was recently rolled out to change the formula that Google uses to generate search results. The real-world consequences from this change by Google were evident to a Long Island online furniture business, which saw the company ranked in the top 100 for biggest drop in search rankings, according to the NPR story. The owner of the business says that this drop in search rankings means that he may be making changes to his business, including layoffs and other cuts; Google’s lead engineer on the Panda update is quoted in the story as saying that “the sites that do put a little more individual care, attention and work into their content” will reap the benefits of the new algorithm because those sites “are the ones that users tend to prefer a bit more and appreciate.”

What does it all mean? For this business owner, it means hiring someone to rewrite the content for over 35,000 pages on his website to be more in line with the new Google Panda algorithm in the hope that his site will be indexed in a way that is similar to what it was before; for Google, it is all about delivering relevant content and if websites aren’t willing to follow their guidelines, then that is the price that will be paid.

For those of us who are working each and every day with search engine optimization on behalf of our clients, Panda offers an interesting conundrum. We have always pushed the idea that “content is king” and with these changes to the algorithm, this truth is more evident than it ever has been before that content is one of, if not the most, important factor in making sure that websites are properly indexed by Google and other search engines. Continuous updating of relevant content, staying away from low-quality content, links and information, establishing relevancy and creating a definitive plan of how to keep the content on the website as fresh as possible is the key to quality rankings on Google; now that Google’s Panda is on point, following this ideology is vitally important for any business who is looking to leverage their search rankings into real world results.

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§ 5 Responses to Google Panda and the Content Siren Song

  • MOOzikmktr says:

    hmmm…”content speculators?” Good thing Google doesn’t sell gasoline.

  • Megan says:

    Craig,

    Could you elaborate on linking? Are you saying we should stay away from linking in our fresh content? Or saying we should continue to link to other pages. I’d assume the latter. Thanks!

  • Craig Bates says:

    Megan,

    Thanks for the question! As far as linking is concerned with Google Panda, it is all about the quality of the links that you are using, as well as how Google views the types of sites that you are linking to. Linking within your own site to other appropriate content is generally considered a “safe” link, but there are some other factors to keep in mind.

    1. Similar content: If you are going to link to other websites, make sure that they have similar content to your website; additionally, if you are linking to other sites that feature the same type of topics as your content, those are links that are preferable.

    2. Stay away from robot sites: If you have a link on a site that is basically a link farm, it would be a good idea to remove those links as soon as you can. Robot managed sites are usually filled with spam type links, so its always best to link to a site that follows the guidelines above, along with consistent management of the content.

    3. Social Media: Google (as well as Bing) are big fans of social media links and both Google and Bing have stated that social media links that come back to your website have a positive correlation on your search rankings. Add social media feeds, interact with your followers and reap the benefits in SEO.

    4. Be careful with your links: Stay away from sites with poorly written content or content that is pulled from other sites (as mentioned in the NPR story above), pages that have a very high numbers of ads vs. actual content and sites that have content that is not relevant to the actual site.

    Hope that helps, Megan. Let me know if you would like me to elaborate any further on linking or anything else mentioned here!

  • [...] Google’s new algorithm, Panda, affecting how content appears in searches, I think more and more companies are going to realize [...]

  • [...] We use all the tricks and we hire the experts and get mixed results, especially when Google keeps changing their search algorithm. While what we’ve been doing thus far has been effective to a large degree, if you really [...]

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