How Google’s Panda algorithm changed the content game forever

October 4, 2011Uncategorized

Introducing King Content’s very first guest blogger! Meet Alex Petrovic, from Dejan SEO who talks to us about Google Panda, Google’s aim to lower the rank of ‘low quality sites’ in search results and return high quality sites to users, and also gives us some useful info on how to make your online content stand out. Over to you Alex…

What type of content does Panda likes to read?

Author bio: Alex Petrovic, Advanced SEO strategist – Dejan SEO

By now everyone is quite familiar with Google’s almost ‘infamous’ Panda update to its algorithm.

When you dust off all the fluff, you’ll see the Panda update for what it really is: a jolt to publishers from Google to pick up the quality of their content and deliver much better value to the end user. Google maintained that the Panda update would affect about 12% of search results which when you consider the size of its index, is a ludicrous amount of websites.

The main target of Google’s Panda update has been content farms and similar sits. These sites dominated results, contained shallow content and were often abused as a cheap tactic to boost rankings. Essentially, they offered very little value and were of low quality in general. Much of the popular ones have been knocked back, with the weaker ones sent into orbit and into SERP oblivion.

Which brings me back to an earlier point about why Panda is sometimes seen as ‘infamous’ – whilst Google’s attempt to clean up the index and deliver even more quality results is noble and has been well received by the online community, it has in fact affected the rankings and traffic of many great websites that actually aren’t content farms or scraper sites – sort of a SERP friendly fire if you will.

The end result has been game changing. Initially, webmasters were scratching their heads trying to work out what was wrong and how to fix it. Being advised to improve content quality and end user experience is the gist of the guidance from Google but it hasn’t been specific. It’s not entirely revolutionary – it’s something many online experts harp on about – but with Panda making huge sweeps through the index, it’s become something you need to heed with utmost diligence.

The relative ease with which one can go online and begin publishing content makes it all the more important because you need to work extra hard to make your content stand out. So how have the victims been fixing things? Many websites have been pulling up their socks and delivering even better content and value than ever before. They’ve trimmed their index and consolidated content, fixed typos and other general errors across the site and even worked on design elements. For some, this has helped bring them back into SERPs and with even better results than before but some still play the waiting game and are constantly tweaking to find that Panda sweet spot.

So how do you improve the end user experience with your content and how do you make your site stand out from the rest? Trim the fat. Don’t bloat your website with 5 pages on the same topic but with small differences. Consolidate and reduce it to 1 or 2 pages. Get rid of other pages that offer no value whatsoever. Think about making content linkable and bookmarkable – that’s when you’ve struck gold.

Fix up your spelling and grammatical errors. Keep an eye on them in the future. Nothing screams unprofessional or poor quality control more than a website that is littered with errors. If it doesn’t read well, then it won’t work well. Remember, you’re writing for humans after all. Keep it unique at every juncture. Content can’t be duplicated or copied from other websites. You can perhaps use other sites for inspiration to break that writer’s block but always aim to make your writing, your own.

Choose a different angle when writing. Why write about the same sort of things as other websites? Perhaps you may wish to try writing from a different perspective? It gives you more to write about and offers a fresh perspective that end users may not previously have considered.

Build your cred – become a true authority on your industry. Authority and credibility are what sets apart the wheat from the chaff and when you write, you need to show this. Learn more about your field, find out what others don’t know and share this knowledge first. Become to the ‘go to’ website for your segment of the market. Are you to your industry what YouTube is to online videos? No? Well, better get onto that.

To put it plainly, if your mum would bookmark your website, share it with her friends and revisit it because she found it invaluable and not because you’re her son/daughter, you’re probably doing things right.