There’s an old saying, “The only constant in this world is change”, and that is never more true than when it comes to the world of search engine optimization.
Now, unless you have totally unplugged and recently bought a time share under a rock somewhere, you will have probably heard that Google has recently released its latest Panda update. Panda 4.0.
That alone shouldn’t come as any surprise. Google has been updating its Panda algorithm on a regular basis, usually without any fanfare or dedicated announcements.
However, Panda 4.0 seems to be a different matter, and Matt Cutts himself took to Twitter to formally announce the latest update to one of Google’s major search algorithms.
That alone lends a certain amount of significance to the latest updates. Let’s dive in and take a look at how we can be on top of this update.
Panda 4.0 – Who Wins and Who Loses
Panda 4.0 has already made it’s presence knows on sites, making it fairly easy to predict the real winners or losers. It’s estimated that the update will affect more than 7% of English search queries.
When it comes to content marketing, organic searches, and search engine optimization, that’s a hefty percentage. Following the roll out of Panda 4.0, some major websites did see a sudden down turn in their organic search results.
The hardest hit sites included Ask.com, History.com, and Ebay.com. All fairly major players in the world of organic searches, losing as much as 80% of their organic search results.
So, if major players like these are bending under the weight of Panda 4.0, what does this update mean for you and your website?
Using the Panguin Tool from Barracuda, we can get a quick glimpse of how the many Google updates have affected our site. For a more in-depth look, you will want to look at your analytics.
Let’s Dive in Deeper…
First things first. Don’t panic! As with all of Google’s recent updates, there is a single agenda at play here, and that is to provide their users with the most relevant search results possible.
Google’s aim is to “prevent sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results”, and they will continue to operate in this way for organic results. So what does this mean for your website?
On the down side, if you are still stuffing your website with low quality content or very thin content (less than 300 words), and/or relying on any black hat SEO tricks to drive traffic, sooner than later you are going to be targeted by Google’s Panda.
On the upside, as the penalties to Ask.com and others has shown, even major players are bound by the same rules.
If your site provides valuable and topically authoritative content, you can survive and thrive in the wake of Panda 4.0, as concluded by Cognitive SEO:
Content Based Topical Authority Sites are given more SERP Visibility compared to sites that only cover the topic briefly…More articles written on the same topic increase the chances for the site to be treated as a “Topical Authority Content Site” on that specific topic.
What does this mean? Keep your site focused on a specific niche. Become the expert on your topic, and you will be rewarded. Consequently, this is also true for your business model and in life, but that’s for another blog.
So, moving forward, what can you do to ensure that your website remains on the right side of Google’s Panda and retains its ranking position in organic searches?
Like it or not, the answer is simple – play by Google’s rules.
- Update Your Website – This is the first, and most obvious, step in protecting yourself from Google’s Panda. Examine your website, and ensure that it offers a valuable and pleasant user experience. More and more people are accessing online content via mobile devices, so now is the time to fully embrace responsive web design techniques for your site as well.
- Technical Issues – Check that you are adhering to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and use Google Webmaster Tools to see if there are any problems with the function or accessibility of your website.
- Quality Content – It’s become a mantra, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Google wants quality content that offers real value to its users. Create the best content you can, and update that content regularly. Remember, a blog post isn’t just filling space. It is a new web page that the search engine can crawl, identifying keywords and phrases that match specific organic search queries.
- Incorporate Social Media – While Google still won’t give us a straight answer on the impact social media has for organic search, they are clear that it impacts user experience. Social media is your SEO friend, embrace it. That goes double for Google+.
- Check Your Page Speed – Yes, page speed is a big one. If your site is loading at less than 3 seconds, you’re in trouble. Ideally, you want your site to load at under 2 seconds.
The introduction of Panda 4.0 has, understandably, created a few waves in the SEO circles. But, the take away from this latest algorithmic update is simple, continue to provide valuable content in your expert field and with the best user experience in mind!