So you may have heard across the web that everybody is talking about the Google ‘Panda’ update, and I am also keen to know how it has affected businesses. When reading through different blogs and forums, I find people talking about the decline of their site’s rank since the update. It makes me think how a sudden change can affect a business so dramatically. A change is good when it has a positive impact on the business but the other side of the coin is not so embracing. In Google’s blog, they have mentioned that unlike most of the updates (which hardly anyone notices) this big algorithmic update will impact 11.8% of search queries with the intent to rank low-quality for scrappy or duplicate content websites.
Take for example Mahalo (the human-powered search engine and directory), after being affected by the latest Google updated algorithm, has now decided to lay off 10% of their staff. You can get a quick report on the websites who are being affected badly by the recent Google Panda Update.
Douglass Kar (Founder of the Chief Marketing Blog) says that “The algorithm change improved a major flaw – large sites with large quantities of high-ranking pages seemed to get ranked easier on new pages.”
The next issue he points out is that “Now large sites that actually do have a great quantity of ranking pages and a small percentage of crappy pages, now dropped rank across the board. Imagine investing in a site and building out thousands of pages of great content, only to find that overnight your site’s ranking dropped because you also have some pages that suffer. The resulting drop is already costing some companies dearly.”
So the question is “Do we need to change our online business strategy to cope with Google’s frequent update?” To make a position in the competitive market you have to be up-to-date with the changes Google makes and also embrace those changes.
Online business is highly competitive as it is, so to be placed in the search engines in a better position and not to be badly affected by the Google Panda Update, one has to be aware of the latest updates Google make to their search engine in the future. But that doesn’t mean you have to change the entire business strategy – provided you avoid “Black-Hat Techniques.”
How To Retain The Rank Of Your Website From Being Hit By The Panda?
- Check the reason for the decline of the rank - One should first check if Panda is definately the cause for the low rank. If your site stats show its decline on traffic before or way after the 24th February, then the rank might have decreased for other reasons. Whatever might be the reason, one should figure it out. Be sure to check for broken links, duplicate content and crawlability.
- ‘Panda’ affects the global market – For the time being, Google’s Panda update is affecting the US based queries, but before this update affects the others locations - its better to clear any website ‘mess’ located in the content (if there is any).
- Panda hates content-farms – In a recent conversation, the Google Engineers pointed that Panda hate content-farms. So, these sites should be avoided. Content farms include sites set up purely for Adsense and random article-based sites designed to pull traffic to it, rather than relevant content provision.
- Pages hardly-ever or never visited should be given attention – Since the update is based on ‘content’ it’s important to reason out which pages are never visited, that may be given less importance accordingly.
- Sharpen your weapon – The top landing pages are always a tool for driving more traffic to the site. But with the Panda Update (and to make a good position in the competitive market) you should focus on how to improve the landing pages to remain on the top. Ensure your landing page is the highest optimised page for your relevant keywords and allows ease of navigation to other areas of your site.
- Retain your visitors – With this latest update, everybody will be tweeting their content to retain a better position in the search engines for the queried string. In this scenario, the competition being high and will be a tough task to make the people land on your website, so importance should be given not only to attract the new visitors but also to retain the old ones.
- More quality, less quantity – In terms of the latest update where the focus is on content, you should concentrate more on the quality of the content and less on the quantity of the content. Since Panda scans individual content of the pages, compromising on the quality of the content is not advisable. But if the rank has gone down, its important that you not only add new, fresh authorative content to your site but also make modifications to the existing content too.
- Do intelligent mashups – It’s not possible to produce 100,000 fresh content pages for a particular topic so include some ‘Mashups’ where required. Mashups certainly don’t mean creating duplicate content. So the challenge lies in how well you present your content and how qualitative it is.
- Engage your customers – You might feel that (at last) you are successful in driving visitors to your site. I won’t disagree. This is a really tough task. You did a great job with the Title Optimisation, Meta Tags. But… it’s only half complete. The most important thing is how successful your site or your content is (in terms of engaging your customers). The 3 answers you need to find out for that are:
- Have you being unsuccessful in increasing your clicks to the site?
- Have they landed and left the site immediately (bounce rate)?
- Have they visited the landing page and spent less time on the site?
If you answer “No” to all the questions above, then you are doing quite well in terms of engaging your customers.
- E-commerce sites need special attention – According to Greenlight: “Panda is a combination of that emphasis on user click data and a revised document level classifier”. Since the major functionality of e-commerce sites is based on the user clicks, one should emphasis the quality of the individual content of the pages and how engaging each individual pages are. For e.g. let’s think you have an Online Bookshop. According to Panda, the rank depends on the click nature which further depends on the quality of the content. So, better the content the more the clicks. By clicks I mean:
- How many clicks you managed to get each day
- How many pages they visited apart from the landing page
- What is the duration of their stay for each click
- If they visited only the landing page then is the average time spent on the single page is equally good with respect to the ones who stayed on the site for a longer time and visited the other pages
If all the answers to the above questions are reasonably good, then you are on the safe side. But if not, then you should try to analyse your content structure throughout the site.
So, a quick checklist of factors that might help the e-commerce sites from being affected by the Panda Update:
- The categories in the site must be clear and distinct.
- The products should be properly categorised.
- The site should have the best selling products.
- Customers like the best things at low prices. This can get you some more visitors.
- The summary of the individual products must be clear and concise.
- Proper Navigation should be used for the product pages as by not, it creates problems for SEO.
- A review on the best rated products by the customers on your site can help you to attract more people to visit your site, more clicks and definitely a better rank.
- Freebies a tool for more clicks – The content in the website will obviously vary from site to site. The content can be a list of products; can be list of free downloadable tools or blog articles. The word “free” has a real impact in terms of driving traffic and makes people want to click. The more quality traffic, the higher the rank and less negative impact of Panda on your site. ‘Free offers’ have their own limitations, but the point is since your site aims at giving something for free, the quality of your ‘free offer’ has to have an impact on the traffic.
- Don’t play hide and seek with your customers while doing E-mail campaigns – When you are doing e-mail marketing campaigns, the message of the campaign should be concise and should have resemblance with the link of the landing page. If the campaign is about offers, then the landing page highlighted in the campaign should be your ‘offer’ page. Make sure that the person doesn’t have to hover around your site looking for the actual offer page.
If you have any other suggestions about how you can avoid being affected by the Panda you are most welcome to comment in the ‘Have your Say’ section below.