Early this month Google released an update to their Panda algorithm. Google uses different algorithms (mathematical instructions to tell computers how to complete assigned tasks) to sift through all of the data on the internet to deliver helpful, meaningful search results. Google’s Panda algorithm works to lower the rank of low-quality or thin websites and increase the ranking of high quality websites.
I know updates like this make business owners like you shake in their boots wondering what you can do to maintain or increase your search ranking based on the Panda changes. I will be giving you 5 tips (below) on what you can do but before I get there I want to give you a little background on how Google determines quality using Panda.
To start, Google used human reviewers to determine the quality of a selection of websites. These are the questions the real, human reviewers were asked when looking at a website:
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Google used the answers to these questions from their real users to apply machine learning techniques to build their Panda algorithm. You can use this list of questions and ask someone (or multiple people) outside of your organization to answer them. You’ll know from their responses where you can make improvements.
If you want more in-depth details about the Panda Algorithm Moz is a great resource. I’m not going to delve any deeper here. I’m sure what you are really here for is to figure out what you need to do for your business. So let’s get to it.
The Google algorithm changed, what do you do?
It’s actually quite simple. If you stick to these content rules you won’t have to worry much about the changes Google makes to their algorithm now, or later:
- Deliver Top-Notch Original Content
Google is looking for quality original content. Focus on being a thought leader in your market and write about it as an expert. If this sounds daunting it shouldn’t be. You started your business because you have an expertise in a certain area, just write what you know. It’s when you try to be something else that you get in trouble.
- Be Authentic
Just because knits are hot this season doesn’t mean you should write a blog post about it (unless this fits your business). Bringing someone to your site to read about the head-to-toe knitwear trend when the rest of the site is about the health benefits of essential oils will do nothing for your credibility with Google or a visitor.
- Be Professional
You are building trust with your visitors. If they visit your website and it looks like the design hasn’t been updated since the late 90’s invest in updating your website.
- Be Trustworthy
You want a visitor to feel good when they visit your website, don’t send them the wrong signals. Things to avoid are: more ads than content, poor spelling or grammar and not including an author or sources for your informational content.Be Trustworthy – as an example above, you can see what happens with the addition of lots of advertising. The website on the right instantly becomes less credible. This doesn’t mean you can’t use ads, because that might be part of your business model. Just make sure that you think about your site’s credibility as you increase the amount of ads. The tipping point is usually quite obvious.
- Be Consistent
If you wrote amazing, informative blog posts back in 2012 but have not written much lately you will be overlooked. Google wants to deliver the most relevant, up-to-date, quality content so they frequently scan your website to see if anything has changed. If you haven’t updated your website or added new content in a while Google has no way of knowing if you are still in business and most importantly if you are still an authority in your field. So do what you need to do to add new content to your website regularly (this could be as minimal as one new blog post a month).
Hopefully you aren’t as nervous about the Panda algorithm updates now. It’s important to pay attention to the changes Google makes to their algorithm but honestly if you consistently offer your visitors professional, authentic, high-quality content you won’t have much to worry about.
What is your experience with the Panda updates? Let us know by commenting below.
Google Webmaster Central Blog, “More guidance on building high-quality sites”
Wikipedia, “Google Panda“