How Google's Panda Update Has Changed SEO
Is the new Panda Update a game changer in regards to SEO or is it business as usual?
How Google's Panda Update Has Changed SEO
As you probably know, Google's Panda Algorithm has sent some major tremors through SEO circles and for some good reasons. While it has yet been only applied to around 12% of American listings, many sites such as Ezinearticles and Buzzle, saw a drop in rankings and traffic coming from Google.
Some places such as CNN, is putting the shift in revenues at around 1 Billion... moving funds generated from some sites to others, in the process creating winners and losers.
The Panda Update is only Google's recent algorithm change, in fact, these changes are constantly on-going as Google tweaks its index listings/rankings. This current update deals with what Google perceives as "content farms" or "low quality" sites.
Getting "de-ranked" because the major search engine in the world believes your site has inferior content is no laughing matter. For those like myself, who make a living from their online sites and rankings... it's very serious business.
As you can imagine, I have been following this issue very closely and searching out as much information as I can. In addition, I have been adjusting my content and sites to reflect these changes brought about by the Panda Update. Please remember, these are my opinions and views on this matter, use at your own risk.
Some major points which may affect your SEO and Rankings:
1. Quality is definitely on the front-burner, you must have high quality unique content on your sites. However, you should also be worried about not only the quality of your content, BUT also about how your content is presented. Clearing up your code and presenting a clean site is crucial. Use a sitemap. Make sure all your links work and your site can be easily crawled.
2. Make sure your page loads quickly and your "quality content" can be easily read by your visitors. Cut down on the number of ads you have on your content, even Google Adsense ads. Make the visitor's experience paramount to your site's goal. Keep in mind, low quality pages can bring down or lower the overall ranking of your site so make sure you fix or delete these pages.
3. Pay special attention to your bounce rate... it is something Google can easily measure and if searchers are instantly hitting the back button, you're in trouble. This is something you should be improving anyway, as a high bounce rate will obviously decrease your conversion rates and sales.
4. Pay more attention to "how long" someone stays on your site. The longer they stay, the higher your rankings will go... if searchers are staying a long time on your site, than they're finding what they're looking for and come away happy, or so the reasoning goes.
5. So adjust your content to keep your visitors on your pages longer... use videos and attractive graphics, use visitor interaction with such things as polls and feedback; plus, give the visitor search options without leaving your page.
6. Use social bookmarking buttons such as those found with Facebook, Digg, Twitter, Reddit... and so on. I believe these social bookmarks will play a very important role in a post Panda web. Make sure you have them on your pages.
7. If you can, try to only place UNIQUE content on your site. If you use aggregators, try to at least give your take or re-wording of the content. Show respect by always referencing the work being discussed... and give a backlink to the original content.
8. I have always believed in working with Google; using Google Analytics and WebmasterTools on my content. In doing so, Google has all the metrics (bounce rate, time on site, source of traffic...) at their fingertips. Some experts disagree with being so cozy with Google.
9. Make sure you only link out to good quality sites. Avoid bad neighborhoods or what are perceived as bad neighborhoods. I also believe linking out to your high quality competition helps, rather than hinders, your rankings.
10. I believe keyworded domains will be extremely important on what gets ranked in the Google of the future. Keeping all your content related to your domain topic and on track, will greatly help you avoid the "content farm" label.
In all the 10 points above, I haven't mentioned the whole "Chrome Factor" in our discussion. Chrome is Google's web browser and user data from this browser can/will be used in Google's rankings. In other words, Google can use this data to determine if searchers like your site... or the opposite if they block your site.
A vote for or against your content - determined by Chrome users.
The most frightening aspect of ALL the things mentioned above, Google through its spokesperson Matt Cutts admits that some signals/factors can be "gamed" by corrupt individuals and companies. For me, this is downright scary, because in major keyword battles where millions are at stake, you can be assured these unscrupulous types will be lining up to de-rail and sabotage the competition.
If this indeed comes true, this Panda will quickly turn into a 400 pound gorilla, which will have all honest webmasters scrambling to protect all their fine china.....
The author is a full time online affiliate marketer who operates numerous niche sites. Titus Hoskins Copyright 2011.
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