Panda’s are an incredibly versatile creature, they eat bamboo, practice kung fu, make fantastic viral videos, and all the while they can still strike fear into the hearts of millions of web masters worldwide by working at Google – in fact they’re so popular over in Silicon Valley that they’ve got an entire algorithm update named after them! Of course I am talking about Google Panda, and for those of you who don’t know, Panda is a well known update to Google’s search algorithm (the formula they use to rank websites) focused on punishing websites with “thin”, “spammy”, or “low quality” content, and in turn, rewarding those who provide fresh and relevant content which enriches the users searching experience . To borrow a phrase from 2010 – in the world of Panda, “content is king”.
There have been several Panda updates over the past few years, with the first one coming in at the beginning of 2011, and it made quite a splash, affecting almost 12% of all search results, and ever since then there have been more and more predictions about when the next one would be along, and just recently it has been confirmed that the latest significant updated, Panda 4.0 is being rolled out across the globe – something which we predicted ourselves back in March. More minor updates are being applied almost monthly, but big changes have already been spotted in the SERP’s (search engine results page’s) since Panda 4.0 was confirmed at the end of May.
We have seen the results of this ourselves, we have seen many poor quality websites disappear from our lives, and plenty of good quality ones get the recognition they deserve as rankings and traffic both take an upward spike. Unfortunately though, it isn’t just the evil spammers who are punished by Panda, in fact many of the victims are humble business owners who are perhaps not the most web savvy and have a website that simply hasn’t been updated for a few years, or has been run poorly by outsiders to the point of Google viewing it as a thin, poor quality site, deserving of a rankings drop. In turn this can have a devastating affect on many who rely on their website to bring in customers, enquiries or even sales to their business, one day they’re ranking page 1 of Google and bringing in a stream of traffic, the next they’ve fallen out of the index completely and not a soul can find them.
Things like this really are “overnight” when it comes to Google and sometimes there is no way of knowing when the hit is going to come, but luckily you can future proof your website, or bounce it back up from rankings oblivion to ensure that in the future these updates are only good things for you.
It isn’t rocket science either, the best and most effective way to ensure that you leave the Panda smiling is to provide your users with what they want, something which is going to entertain or interest them. There was a time when simply updating your website was seen as an SEO tactic, which lead to clothes retailers blogging about unrelated sporting events and cookware websites posting the top 10 tips for buying a new carpet, simply so they could say they had something new on their site. This is of course – thankfully – now a detrimental practice and one which should not be carried out. Relevancy and quality is key to anything you should post, don’t try to keyword stuff content, steal it from elsewhere or manipulate it simply for search engines, the key is user satisfaction, write something which is relevant to what you do, to what people have been looking for your website to find out, and if you can, make it interesting, fun, take a different angle or approach to everyone else. If you make your content stand out for a good reason from all of the other offerings in your industry then not only are you going to increase your sales, users will be compelled to share your content, praise it, talk it up and let everyone else know just how good it is.
Panda’s may have a reputation as being somewhat docile or “dopey” but the one that Google has is a clever being, it knows what your customers want and it knows when you’re cutting corners on the quality of your website, and they may not be particularly carnivorous this one certainly won’t mind tearing the flesh off of the bones of your website and spitting you out at the bottom of the search results if you don’t play by the rules, so be aware!
Our digital marketing team here at Dijitul have been watching the progress of Panda throughout the years, and we have plenty of experience in producing Panda friendly websites to ensure the long term success of online businesses, so if your website has been hit by this update, you fear it may be in the future, or you simply want to give things a bit of a spruce up, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today either on 01623 650333 or by any of the means listed below.