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Things You Should Know About Google’s “Panda Update”

Within the last few months, there has been a lot of talk in the SEO community about the quality or lack of quality results that are often exhibited by Google. Many blog posts, like this one at SEOmoz, discuss how organized spam is taking control of the web, making it frustrating for users to find the quality content that they are searching for.

 

Google has taken multiple steps to rid SERPs of these poor quality sites, and most recently, Google implemented a huge algorithmic update, affecting 11.8% of all search queries. This update, officially call the “Panda Update” and nicknamed the “Farmer Update,” targets low quality and scraper sites.

 

Low quality sites are defined as having shallow content that is either copied or unhelpful to the user. Scraper sites are website built completely with copied content. Usually, they are used for black hat SEO or for advertising.

 

The Losers of the Latest Google Update:

 Millions of sites were hit hard, some of which saw traffic decreases of over 90%! Here are a few of the more popular sites that were hit hard by the latest “Panda Update.” This data is from Sistrix, a company that has developed an index to track keyword traffic, keyword rankings, and click-through-rates.

 

As is shown above, many of the sites hit hardest are article sites where anyone can become an author and contribute content, even if they are not an expert in the category for which they are writing. However, not all sites were article sites, and it is quite possible that your website may have been affected.

 

So, what do you need to know?! 

  1. Check Your Analytics: See if you have been hit hard by this update by analyzing your search engine traffic numbers. If you see a dramatic decrease in keyword traffic that starts on February 24th (the day the algorithm took place), then you have a reason to be concerned. If you notice no decrease in search engine traffic, then you likely have good content and do not need to worry. :-)
  2. Remove Bad Content: If you have been hit by this update, then you must find out which pages have “low quality” content. I would suggest doing one of two things. First, you could change the existing content to include more in-depth, user-friendly content. Secondly, you could 301 redirect poor content pages to another relevant page with good content. Either option should work fine.
  3. Add User Generated Content: Perhaps one of the biggest opportunities with the “Panda Update” is the utilization of user generated content.(UGC). If you run an e-commerce shop, then consider adding customer reviews on your product pages. Also, having a blog that makes use of good comments is also highly regarded. A final source for UGC is implementing a Q & A section on your website. An example of a great Q & A website is Quora.
  4. Be Cautious When Shopping for an SEO Company: If you are looking to hire a firm to do SEO work for your company, make sure that their link building efforts do not use ill-advised practices. Question them on how they conduct their link building, and be wary when you hear terms like “article marketing,” “content farms,” or “link wheels.” These practices may or may not work, but they should not be the foundation of a link building campaign. Also, ask them how the latest “Panda Update” has affected their SEO strategy. Being informed on SEO best practices will help you interact with prospective SEO companies to make sure that you are getting what you are paying for.

These are just a few tips to help you maximize your search engine optimization efforts in light of the latest Google update. Hopefully, you found it educational and helpful as you look to optimize your site. Please feel free to leave your comments below on how your site has or hasn't been affected by the monster Panda.  Thanks for reading!

 

About the Author: Jared Banz is the SEO and Social Media Director for TQINet, and IT solutions provider based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. You can follow Jared on Twitter @JSBANZ.

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Comment by Jared Banz on May 18, 2011 at 10:19pm

Wayne, no problem about the name mix-up. I am terrible with names. :) I agree that the Panda update, while challenging to small site owners, is a good thing for the user experience. It changes the game tremendously, and I think that social media will definitely continue to be more and more integrated with S.E.'s algorithms. Anyway, thanks for reading, and I will definitely look into joining TechLounge. Thanks for reading!

Comment by Wayne Henry on May 13, 2011 at 1:17pm
Jared, sorry! Not sure where I got Mike!
Comment by Wayne Henry on May 13, 2011 at 11:53am
Mike, this is great advice and ultimately I think Google's updates will improve search users' experience. In the end, these types of updates are one of the many things that set Google apart from other search enginges. It will also cause bloggers/sites to rethink their content strategy. Those with a unique value proposition will thrive. Those that lived off of others' content will likely struggle unless they retool their site. I hope you will also consider joining the TechLounge and posting insights such as this at TechLounge, an online community that offers resources for tech industry businesses.

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