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Google Panda; An Update

Published on July 27, 2012
Tags: SEO

You will no doubt remember when Google released its major algorithm update towards the start of last year: the Panda update (sometimes referred to as the Farmer update) impacted on around 12% of searches at the time, and web designers and others working in the industry spent considerable time making sure websites were up to standard.

The aim of the Panda update was to help weed out sites considered to be less reputable, such as those that took part in the practice of keyword stuffing or otherwise employing low-quality content – yet that still managed to do well in the search results prior to Panda. The impact of this algorithm change was significant, and since then there have been multiple updates and refreshes to the Panda algorithm to help perfect what it was intended to do.

Fairly recently - on June 25th to be precise - a further refresh of Panda was released. It is thought that this has only had an impact on around 1% of searches, but it still makes sense to take this opportunity to review your site and make sure it won't fall foul of the algorithm designed to find low quality sites and bump them down the search results. After all, there are billions of Google searches done every day, so even though 1% might not sound like a huge amount, it is still something that cannot be ignored (if you want to be amazed by the number of Google searches per day, this link is somewhat eye-opening: click the 'start' button and watch the numbers flick by faster than you can see).

So with this in mind, let’s take a look at the different things you can do to ensure your site falls into the ‘high quality content’ category and will not fall foul of the most recent or any future Panda algorithm updates that might be released.

‘High quality content’ is something that can be hard to define, but it’s what all sites need to achieve if they want to rank well in relevant search results. Last year, Google released a list of interesting questions that can help web designers work out whether a particular site is high quality. For example, trustworthiness is one issue that comes up quite a lot: is your website trustworthy? If it is an ecommerce site, would you be willing to input your credit card details? These questions can seem rather subjective, but most of us have a pretty good idea about the answer we would give when looking at a particular website.

However, there are also some very practical things we can do to make sure our websites are high quality and filled with useful information for web users. For instance, making sure there is no duplicate content on your site is one obvious way of improving your site, particularly as this is one of the things Panda can penalise you for.

Sites that make use of a considerable amount of advertising can also take action to make sure they don’t fall foul of Panda. This is a particularly relevant issue since part of the aim of the most recent Panda update was to weed out sites that trick users into believing an ad is trustworthy when it isn’t necessarily the case. Websites that take part in link-building should also ensure that all of their links are reputable and genuine.

One of the big things that all websites can do – and that they should probably be doing anyway even if it weren’t for updates such as Panda – is to think about things from the point of view of the web user. After all, one of the aims of any website is to make sure the user has a good experience of that site, whether it’s in navigating the different pages to find what they’re looking for, making a purchase or reading about a topic of interest to them.

It might sound a little inconclusive to say that the main thing you can do to deal with the implications of Google Panda is to take care over all of the content on your site and make sure it is all engaging and well-written, but it’s true. We can all take action to make sure our websites aren’t negatively affected by algorithm changes, but ultimately our focus needs to be on creating a good web environment and a positive experience for web users – all of the time, not just whenever a new algorithm update is released.

By Chelsey Evans

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