What has Google Panda got to do with me?
Google finally rolled out the Panda algorithm change globally to all English speaking Countries last week. As the week has gone by there have been varying reports and speculation about the websites that have been mauled and the websites came out the other end smelling of roses.
You may be thinking, “What has a Panda got to do with me?”
Well, if your local business has a website or is planning to be online, Google Panda has everything to do with you – especially if you don’t want to be bitten before you even start marketing online.
We can save all the technical stuff for the geeks and I’ll post links at the end to you can satisfy your inner geek with numbers and statistics. But for now, I’ll do a quick run through of what Panda is and how you can avoid the effects.
The Google Panda update is not just an algorithm change. Google, like all the other search engines, use a variety of mathematical formulas to decide which websites to show in the results when you perform a search. These algorithms are closely guarded secrets so no-one knows exactly how they are worked out.
Google Panda is different.
It’s not an algorithm operating constantly, but an update every 4-6 weeks on average. Yes, it’s all based on maths but this time it concentrates on user experience. It compares webpages with signals from websites people like and trust. Once again, it isn’t totally clear what they are looking for as many site’s previously considered “authority” sites have been hit hard.
That said, by studying results and trends you can get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. There are many companies and search engine professionals that sit and number crunch day in and day out producing much commentary and discussion. Over time a much clearer picture will emerge.
Most of the discussion regarding Panda has been who is this update really targeting? “Content farms” were heavily hit at the end of February when Google rolled out this algorithm update in the States to much hair tearing and gnashing of teeth by those affected. Google actually commented stating that the aim was to produce better quality search results for its users.
Content is King?
Over the last few years, it has been obvious that content production and syndication is a very good way of marketing online. Like any other popular method, this has been warped and loop holes found.
The result was poorly written content, written specifically to attract Google bot (see a short example in my last post), that adds no value to user experience of a website. Additionally there has been a rise in “auto blogging” which scrapes content from around the web and publishes it automatically without any human editing or intervention.
When the article directories were hit hard in the US update, it soon became apparent that the topic was also quite a significant factor too. There are several topics (or niches) that are quite popular for online marketers and article distribution for these topics is pretty saturated and spammy.
While content does appear to be a major factor in the Google Panda update, it certainly isn’t the only one.
Websites that have been mauled by Panda quite badly also have a common factor – advertising. Sites that have very aggressive, in your face ads, tended to come out worse after the update.
The Panda update was rolled out in the UK last week. As expected the article directories and “content farms” were hit hard. But what was new, so where the shopping comparison sites and voucher code sites too. Google also stated that this update will be also be taking into account the websites that users block using their Chrome browser.
There are obviously many factors that the Google algorithms consider when choosing the search results, but what is very obvious now with all the recent changes is that Google are looking to provide their searchers with a good user experience and quality content that is relevant to them.
Google Panda will not just affect the big players, although they have been the ones receiving all the publicity. Every result served by Google gets there by going through the algorithms, so it important that your business website is Google friendly.
What is Google friendly?
- Avoid outdated optimisation techniques,
- Keep your website up to date with good quality information written with readers in mind (check my post about blogging and relevant content),
- Don’t go crazy with ad placement,
- I really can’t mention Google friendliness without mentioning links back to your site – have some! (and not link farms or links from bad neighbourhoods either)
- Take the time to check Googles web master guidelines.
It goes without saying, any work that My Local Business Online does for you is Google friendly!
If you have read this far and want to know which websites have been hit hard with the UK Panda update, there is a chart on the Sistrix blog and CNET have done their own analysis too (they’re two of those companies mentioned earlier who number crunch a lot)
The original Google announcement is on their blog.
Of course, if you need content that is not written purely as feed for Google bot or help marketing your local business online – contact me.