Do Not Feed the Panda
Pandas like more than just bamboo when they work for Google. And, while we covered what Panda 4.0 is last week, we’re back this week to arm you with the tools you need to either recover from the latest update or avoid the next, which is coming soon! Our disclaimer is that we cannot predict future changes and we cannot guarantee you will be free of penalty if you follow our advice. We can only share our knowledge and hope it helps.
WHAT TO AVOID
Do not confuse your readers. Be clear and concise with your content. People, not search engines, should always be top of mind while writing you web copy. Just as you want to make it easy for them to find what they are looking for (i.e. fewer clicks to the destination), you also want to get your point across in the simplest, most direct form. This includes avoiding too much industry jargon.
Sometimes less is more but don’t take this to the extreme. Do you want your visitors to convert? Yes. Do you want them to be enticed enough to contact you? Yes. But not because they are unable to glean anything from the material you are putting out. You want to continuously inform and educate your visitors via whitepapers, blogs, social media and your website. Make your words count - if you have something to say, say it. But never produce content just for the sake of content. Just because there is space for it, does not mean every page NEEDS it.
Make sure everything links up and there are multiple paths to each page. Avoid unnecessarily hidden pages; if you hide or unlink them, Google will not see them. If Google cannot get to them, then your rankings will suffer.
Black hat techniques are essentially lies. We mentioned the golden rule last week and falsifying information or trickery falls under that. You all know that keyword stuffing is a no-no by now but there are other areas that appear gray. Syndication is one of them. The sites that lost big in the latest update used syndicated content. To clear up any confusion, Google clearly defines duplicate content.
If you avoid the above, your site should be okay. If you think your site was hit, there are a few things you can try.
WHAT TO DO
- Find ways to increase your user engagement numbers
- Know and improve your adjusted bounce rate
- Produce high quality content, nixing any low quality stuff as you go
- Find any technical problems that could be affecting content quality (broken links and redirects, for example)
- Keep your online ads short, taking measure to avoid letting the graphics overshadow the content
- Do not accept defeat!
The key is to be genuine and not optimize specifically for any particular Google algorithm. One or two pages of poor content can affect an entire site, so every page, sentence, and word counts! Ignoring Panda is comparable to falsifying your taxes and hoping the IRS doesn’t find out; eventually, they will find you. We recommend you visit the Google Webmaster Blog for help straight from the panda’s mouth.
The good news is, small businesses appear to be on the winning side of this update. In the past, Google’s updates often felt like they were targeted at smaller sites while the big brands got to have all the fun, but perhaps times have changed. Ask.com, eBay.com, and RealSimple.com are examples of big brands that were significantly hit. All sites and brands are held equally accountable, at least as far as Panda 4.0 is concerned.