Google began rolling out their Panda update in February 2011 and by April it went global. The goal of this update was to help rid the search results of what many people call “content farms.” These types of sites typically have a high volume of pages with low quality content. In other words, they are not really providing the user with anything useful. Unfortunately, the update consequently affected websites that truly did have high quality, informative content and many sites reported being wrongfully penalized. Speculation has been made that Panda also takes into consideration the age of a web page and pushes older content down in rankings regardless of how informative it might have been.
User Experience is More Important Than Ever
Doing SEO after Panda is a bit of a different process. Old SEO practices also included optimizing a web page for SEO, making sure search engines could access it, writing keyword rich articles and then attempting to get links to the content. Some of these old rules still apply, but the focus needs to be shifted towards creating more unique, robust content and an overall positive visitor experience. Always keep your visitors in mind from the design process to the creation of content. It is still important to ensure that your web pages are properly optimized, but not keyword stuffed. A 1-2% density is natural.
Before the update, some individuals would simply write an article on one topic and slap a link that was completely irrelevant into the middle of a random sentence. There was no care to the quality of the content or how that content would affect the person viewing it. It was all about creating content specifically for SEO purposes and using their rankings to increase their AdSense earnings. This type of practice is now frowned upon and those links will now be severely discounted.
Don’t Just Create Content – Create Engaging Content
Google has made it known that they love unique, interesting content. Creating a website with 10,000 different pages on every type of TV a particular company makes is not interesting content. It may be informative and possibly unique, but are your visitors going to be excited by this information? Will they share it with their friends? Probably not. This is the type of website that would be penalized by the Panda update because it has a massive amount of pages with low quality information. Instead, get creative with your content and think outside of the box.
SEO is an ever-changing field. As soon as you think you’ve got it right, things begin to change. If your website or blog has already been hit by Panda, it may difficult to recover. Changing the content on your pages or weeding out low quality pages may take your website out of the depths and back onto the first page. Go over each and every page or post and evaluate it from the visitor’s perspective. Does the content provide useful information? Is it something someone may want to share with their friends? Will this fill a person’s need or is it just a bunch of text slapped onto a screen? Unique, engaging content is key.
Karen Swager is the President and Media Director of Media Garage Group in St. Petersburg, FL – a boutique, full service advertising agency specializing in helping businesses maximize their budgets to achieve advertising success.