This week, Google announced that Google Panda 4.0 and a second iteration of its Payday Loan update have both been rolled out. We reached out to some notable SEOs and posed the following:
Google updates are always big news in the SEO industry because people worry that their sites (or their clients’ sites) will be affected.
With Panda 4.0 affecting ~7.5% of English search queries and the Payday Loan update affecting ~0.2% of English searches, what are some more permanent strategies SEOs can begin to implement to not only use these updates to their benefit, but to not be ‘scared’ of future Google updates?
From Bruce Clay, Owner & President of Bruce Clay, Inc.:
“The same strategies we have been using and recommending for years still hold true, even with Panda, Payday Loan, Penguin and all the other updates and penalties Google unleashes. We have always preached that your website has to be worthy of ranking in search results. You can’t make a pig fly (your website) and that is definitely not your job as an SEO. These updates, and the ones to come, have only proven this point. Google is going to continue to crack down on quality.
The focus needs to be on content—that which provides value to the searcher—and a user-friendly site, meaning the structure and navigation is logical and clear. You should make sure your on-page content is in line with what Google believes to be the “norm” and is rewarding. For example, view the top ranked pages for your keyword and determine the keyword density, reading level, word count and use of META tags. Then, create a footprint, on your website, of the natural use of that particular keyword.
Part of your SEO strategy should incorporate a site audit. You need to look at everything on the site with an objective eye. Get rid of duplicate or thin content and consolidate pages, when necessary. Review your back link profile and prune bad links. Auditing is an ongoing activity.
You have to be vigilant and proactive.”
From Eric Enge, CEO at Stone Temple Consulting:
The interesting thing about this Panda update that it included a mix of two components:
- Improved detection of more sites that Google wanted to impact with Panda. This is why we see reports of many different sites that were hit.
- A lessening of the scope of the traffic decrease caused by Panda. This is why some have referred to this as a kinder gentler Panda. Many sites had partial recoveries as a result.
That said, the underlying messages remain clear. Thin content, or “me too” content is an endangered species. Creating unique site experiences that are focused on high quality user experiences on your site is essential. For many organizations this is a big shift. There is SO much competition for each search term, and so much competition for links and content marketing ideas and placements that the awesome site experience is now a critical differentiator.
Take a look at the attached image, where I do the following search query:
There are over 31,000 results! There is no need for more than or 5 articles on how to make French toast – it’s really easy. You can’t win by writing a new article on something that has already been covered many times before. So, the question you have to ask yourself today is – what are you going to do that stands out? What are you going to do that’s exceptional? Learning how to answer this question well may take practice.
But, once you have got this down, your risk from future Google updates is greatly reduced.
From Jordan Kasteler, SEO Consultant and Senior SEO Manager at Red Door Interactive:
“If you’re doing marketing right way, you don’t need to worry about the negative affects of Google updates much at all until you’re faced with playing cleanup from someone else not doing things the right way. Create and promote quality content, avoid transactional link building, optimize sites for user intent, and you’ll be solid.”
From Lisa Buyer, President & CEO of The Buyer Group:
From a public relations perspective, who would ever think that Google penalties and updates would become an online public relations problem? But a Google penalty can potentially crush a brand’s hard earned search results, leaving a brand with a fraction of the earned search visibility that they once counted on for business. A business needs to make sure they are on top of the search engine’s updates.
Take eBay for example, they not only had a major issue with repairing website issues but they also were faced with a public relations and visibility problem.
From Jason White, Director of SEO at DragonSearch:
“You have to take the time to audit and understand your website’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as understand any liabilities. Use this information to educate your client about these issues and how it effects SEO and their business as a whole. Without this type of education you missing out on building a relationship with your client, issues become surprises, and its harder to work collaboratively to move forward.
Furthermore, doing competitive research and understanding the liabilities of your competitors can help to shape the client education. If the competitors are clean, it’s important to know what SEO black hat methods are being used and are working in other industries and verticals. This knowledge can help shape what you do for your client. More importantly, it’s vital that you stay current with the industry and educate yourself on the best practices and the worst practices. This knowledge is what is going to help you stay ahead and prepare for any future road bump or update that Google might come out with next.
My best advice is for all SEO’s to treat SEO and Digital Marketing as the legitimate business that it is. Don’t look for loop holes and ways to cut corners. It’s cliche to say: “Focus on the user”, but it’s only cliche because people keep saying it but aren’t doing it. If you do superb marketing, it not only works, but you’ll sleep better at night.”
From Jayson DeMers, Founder & CEO at AudienceBloom:
“Implement the three pillars of SEO: Content, links, and social media, via a solid content strategy. This builds brand signals, which are the natural algorithmic signals that will not only protect you from future algorithm updates, but strengthen your website’s rankings.
Additionally, stop participating in risky, black-hat SEO tactics. It’s time to embrace the reality that real, effective SEO strategies these days don’t involve trickery; they involve expertise, value, and quality content publication.”
From Joe Laratro, President of Tandem Interactive:
One of the first observations I have of Panda 4.0 is a clustering effect (to the lower ranked site) of similar domains on the same IP C block. This makes pretty good sense following the past themes of Panda updates reducing the value of low quality content in the SERPs. If my observation proves correct, there are two reasonable tactics.
The first one is to shut down domains that are competing with the branded or more important domain on that IP block. This is the better option and accomplishes what the algorithm update is trying to do.
The second option would be to move the domain(s) to different servers and change the registrar information.
This option should only be used if there is real value in the other domains and valid purpose for their existence other than trying to own more real estate on the same keyword results. It will take days for Panda 4.0 to fully hit all of the data centers. It may take weeks for valid analysis of what it did and how to deal with it.
The bottom line: It is that strong websites/domains could be negatively affected by lower quality but very similar domains on the same IP C Block.
In addition to the rollout announcement, SEJ’s own Matt Southern also covered which sites were hit the hardest (and which benefited) from these updates.
Do you have sites impacted by the update? Are you shifting your SEO strategy moving forward?
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