Google Panda is like a psychotic cicada, rarely making news cycles, but serial killing when it reemerges…and your business could be next.
On May 20, Google released Panda 4.0, which filters websites based on content quality.
Or, Google Panda could bring your business great success. What is Google Panda, and how can it decide your business’s fate?
Google Panda was released on February 23, 2011, and has had several updates since. Google Panda is part of Google’s indexing technology that results in higher or lower rankings on Google search. Google Panda 4.0 debuted May 20.
Google Panda rewards high quality, informative sites with first page listings, and sends low quality spam sites to later search result pages. High quality and informative is mostly defined by quality content.
However, quality content isn’t Panda 4.0’s only consideration. Modern, navigable, mobile-friendly sites are rewarded with higher rankings. Older versions of Panda, and by extension the recent Panda 4.0 as well, targeted not only quality content but content accessibility. Some people design websites in a way that content is findable by search engines, but not users. Panda punishes these practices. Panda also recognizes and rewards content reliability on the basis of your website consistently working without frequent errors. ACS, Inc. has been building top-tier websites for 16 years, including original, search-engine friendly content.
If a web page has original, relevant, in depth content then it’s more likely to be listed on Google’s first page. An example is if your business website includes a company blog that frequently posts relevant customer information, such as ACS, Inc.’s many blog posts about online presence advice for small businesses.
Panda 4.0’s Losers, and What It Means for Your Business
Panda 4.0 hurt many major online businesses. For example, eBay fell from having the 6th highest share of first page Google results to the 25th highest share within two days. A major reason eBay was hurt by Panda 4.0 was because of doorway pages. Doorway pages have little to no content, but are created to match with keywords so to redirect someone to a relevant page. For example, if someone were looking for a plain white t-shirt and they Googled “plain white t-shirt,” eBay’s doorway page would be one of the top results to redirect the user to eBay’s plain white t-shirt products. Panda 4.0 dropped eBay results to lower rankings because these pages don’t offer information about the product, but instead essentially recognize what the person is searching for and solicits them to find what they’re looking for on eBay.
However, this doesn’t mean all eCommerce sites will be hit hard by Panda 4.0. For example, Amazon is speculated to not have been bumped down like eBay because Amazon doesn’t use doorway pages, and its product listings have more content and user engagement, such as user product reviews.
Panda 4.0 puts informative content higher on Google search rankings. However, informative isn’t enough. One site that was hurt badly by Panda 4.0 was biography.com. Although the site may be very informative, it publishes a lot of duplicate content. For example, if you copy-paste Biography’s synopsis of actor/comedian Robin William’s profile, the exact same phrasing is seen on four other websites. This emphasizes the importance of original content. Your list of consumer advice about your general products or services may be the type of content Google likes, but if 10 of your competitors have the same exact posting on their site, then your site could be pushed to low listings and irrelevancy.
How to Do Business with Google and Panda
Panda 4.0 is favorable to websites rich in content. Rich content can lead to more user engagement. User engagement is when someone views your website and does almost anything besides passive reading. Examples of user engagement include watching videos, commenting on your post, or, ideally, contacting you to buy your products or services. User engagement is a sign that you post quality content, and Google rewards this with higher rankings.
One way to encourage and increase user engagement is to post your new content on your business’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media. This increases your visibility, making your content more accessible and easier to engage. Sharing your posts on social media may lead loyal customers, employees or business partners to share your post with their friends, meaning more potential clients. For example, if you share your “5 Must-Do’s When Choosing An Attorney” post, if it’s shared by others, then the friends of those sharing it are exposed to your site and business, improving your Google page ranking and increasing your client base.
Google emphasized not just rewriting content. If your site was hurt by Panda 4.0, then Panda may consider your site content as not helpful for consumers or clients. Google suggests improving content by making your content worth talking about. For example, instead of a jargon-heavy, boring paragraph describing your liability insurance, a more readable post would be better, such as “10 Workplace Incidents That You Didn’t Know Could Bankrupt Your Business.” This would still explain your liability insurance, but in a more engaging way. This would inform businesses about the dangers of lacking insurance, and in the post you can differentiate your liability insurance from competitors.
Your Google ranking is also effected by credibility, rewarding credible sites with higher page rankings. Credibility can be established in a variety of ways. One is by having content written by a credible source. If you don’t happen to have access to an industry expert or other authoritative author, then one way to make content more credible is by including citation links. Citing sources by including links to relevant web pages suggests you’re well read on your content topic, therefore boosting your credibility. However, like all things, moderation is important with links. Too many links and Panda 4.0 could see your web page as spam.
Another way to increase content credibility, and, by extension, page ranking, is by including brief author bios. These give readers and Google plain-to-see evidence that your content has credibility. For example, if you’re writing on how to navigate a certain part of the legal system, showing that the author has been a practicing attorney for years makes the content much more credible than if it was coming from an obscure legal blog.
Not only is content credibility helpful in wooing Google’s search index, but site credibility is important, too. Positive ratings and reviews of your business or products improves credibility. This also has the added benefit of improving user engagement, another factor that Google’s search index considers. Sites are also seen as more credible if they’re designed well and have strong, secure pages when asking for user data. ACS, Inc. has a lengthy portfolio proving our long track record of helping businesses climb Google’s search rankings, including designing cutting edge websites and secure, SSL certified eCommerce features.
Written content won’t be enough to best Google’s Panda. Other forms of informative content are also important, such as infographics and videos.
Frequent content is a must, too. This means your website isn’t really helped by the one blog post you made two years ago. In fact, outdated websites contribute to Panda 4.0’s negative content quality considerations. ACS, Inc. suggests a bimonthly post minimum. Although it may seem taxing to post well and often, it’s ultimately a good investment that could attract new customers. ACS, Inc. services include SEO and copywriting, meaning if your responsibilities make content generation unrealistic, we can help.
With so many considerations by Panda 4.0 that reward or punish websites, it may seem overwhelming. There is hope, and it’s completely possible for Panda 4.0 to hugely benefit your business. ACS, Inc.’s expert staff includes content writers and search engine marketers who make a living on getting your business website a favorable search engine rankings, which improves your brand.
Contact us today, and we’ll protect your brand from being pummeled by Panda.