Rumors of a long-anticipated update to Google Panda have been circulating for the last few months, but last week, the rumors were finally proven true. Panda 4.1 launched in late September and finally finished rolling out last week. Several websites are already reporting changes to their traffic levels, for better or worse. While the search engine algorithm update only impacts an estimated 3 to 5 percent of websites, smaller websites have seen the most positive outcomes. Here is what you need to know about how Google Panda 4.1 will rate your website and what you can do to improve the site to be more competitive.
According to Pierre Far, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, Panda 4.1 is aimed at better identifying low-quality content and improving the rankings of high-quality small to medium sized sites. The update has likely been implemented because Google has introduced new signs to detect low-quality content. Sites with comprehensive, informative and relevant long-form content will not likely be impacted, but sites with thin or aggregated content can expect to drop in rankings and traffic. While a large number of factors influence search engine rankings, there really is no neutral set of search results. In other words, two people may perform a search for the exact same query and receive radically different results. The new update does not change this, but it does specifically place emphasis on a website's content. Websites such as blog aggregators and sites with thin or scraped content have taken the biggest hit in traffic thus far.
Here are some of the ways that websites can recover from Panda 4.1 or avoid getting hit in the first place.
Create Great Content (and promote it!)
Content marketers have been harping on the importance of quality content for quite some time now. In fact, you have probably heard us here at CyberMark saying the same thing: â€œContent is king.â€ In every update, Google punishes websites that have thin, irrelevant or scraped content. Essentially, Google's job is to connect people with your website when they search for information on a particular topic. In order for your website to rank well, Google needs to know that your site is a quality authoritative link that provides relevant and helpful info. Either write great content and publish on a regular schedule or hire a quality writer to do it on your behalf. The benefit of hiring a skilled copywriter is that they can write a voice appropriate to your website and put the time and research into drafting a piece of quality long form content on a regular basis. However, great writing does not come cheaply. Do not be fooled by â€œcopywritersâ€ on websites like Fiver.com that charge only a few dollars for a piece of content. Thin, spammy or just poorly-written content WILL result in your website receiving a penalty. Remember to tailor your content for human consumption, not just for the search engines. While it is important to optimize your site for SEO, it is equally important to write content that engages readers and keeps them on your website.
It is not enough to simply publish great content; you also must promote it. Take advantage of paid advertising, such as Facebook ads, to boost the amount of people who see your content. You will want to select a form of advertising that is native to your niche so that you can target the most relevant users.
Revise Poor Quality Content
Go through your web pages and old blogs and determine which of them needs to be rewritten or deleted altogether. Rewriting stale content can help refresh your website and allow you to proactively repair poor quality content that the Panda update may notice. Be sure to add relevant outbound links to add more authority to your articles. Linking to high-ranking and quality websites indicates that your author has done their research and is qualified to write about the topic.
Improve Web Design
If you website is starting look its age, it may be time for a website redesign. Simplify the website's URLs to reflect the topic of the webpage and improve the organization of the site's navigation menu to give more structure to the architecture. Obviously, the user experience of the website is important but the site must also look aesthetically pleasing.
If you are looking for information as to what Google is looking for when it comes to evaluating websites with the Panda 4.1 algorithm, the Audience Bloom team has created a great visual guide to the latest update.