How long are you going to invest time in abusing keywords, creating navigation for engines and not humans, using keyword stuffed titles and pages, luring people with anonymous contact forms, and using irrelevant ad blocks that dominate your pages.
How long do you think these tactics will continue to work; especially in a scenario where the search engines are getting smarter by the day? Have you heard of the hard hitting Panda Slap yet?
Google is no longer leaving your search engine optimization up to you! It has come up with SEO tips you can no longer ignore if you want your sites to rank. There’s the “Panda Update” to contend with!
The Google Panda Update: A Brief Look
The latest buzz in the SEO world is the update launched by Google – being touted as the Farmer or Panda Update. This algorithm update may seem almost like waiting for your teacher to grade your work, but that’s the way it is.
This update is an attempt by Google to tune down low quality sites. By “low quality,” we’re talking about sites with content that is shallow or limited, copied, poorly written and not useful to users. It is said that almost 12% of the search results are affected after the update. It raises the bar for quality content!
Google’s Matt Cutts says, “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”
In other words, Google will recognize and raise to the top content deemed as worthwhile for searchers by its algorithm, and will punish those that churn out content for manipulating the search engine ranking. Time has come to discard all SEO deviations we have learned over the years. Google no longer wants users to filter through crappy content to find useful information.
The dramatic drop of ranking of some well-known sites is proof that this update is a major change.
Let’s take a look at some essential post Panda-update SEO tips that should help you in your optimization efforts.
Weed Out Low Quality Pages
The first thing to do would be to weed out poorly performing pages on your website. But first use Google Analytics to see if your web pages are Panda slapped.
Google’s Michael Wyszomierski says, “In addition, it’s important for webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole. For this reason, if you believe you’ve been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.”
Earn some favors from the Panda with these search engine optimization tips:
- Remove low-quality pages or move them to a different domain, as Google says they can affect the rankings of the site as a whole.
- Concentrate on having useful and original content on your web pages.
- Evaluate all your website content from the users’ perspective. What is in this for them?
- Stick solely with “White Hat” Search engine optimization.
- Inappropriate ads are a big NO. Make sure they match the search queries of a page.
- Create a perfect balance of useful content and your promotion of products or services. SEO experts say that 80% should be useful content developed for the customers and the rest 20% can be marketing focused.
- Page content and the title tag must match the search queries.
- Over-use or unnatural use of a word (keyword stuffing) for SEO purposes can no longer take you anywhere.
- All inbound links to a page or site should be of high-quality and relevant.
- First Check Google Analytics and work on reducing the bounce rate, increasing traffic, and improving click-throughs.
In Google’s eyes, it’s taking steps to ensure users are getting only the best in terms of content. Improve underperforming pages or remove them if they are not relevant or offering outdated information. First understand what’s happening with your site and solve the problem. The algorithm is here to stay and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Don’t Abuse The Home Page – Optimize One Web Page For One Keyword
The Home Page suffers the most. It’s a bad idea to optimize the Home page for all the keywords chosen during the keyword research.
A good strategy would be to optimize your Home page and all other pages on your website, using one keyword per page. Use different but related keywords on all the pages of your website.
This is one of the best search engine optimization tips that will give you a high probability of being ranked high for a targeted keyword or phrase. You will achieve the best results this way, for each keyword you use on your web pages. Basically, it all boils down to using the right keywords in the right elements using the right keyword density.
The idea is to come across to the new algorithm as related to a particular topic. This makes it easier to rank for individual keywords relevant to the topic of your web page and the website as a whole.
For example, if you’re using the search term “adult acne” on your Home page, it has around 3,500,000 competing pages, and this heavy competition makes it very difficult for your Home page to rank high. But if you optimize several other web pages related to key phrases like “adult hormonal acne” and others, it will help you rank higher and attract more targeted traffic.
Don’t Submit One Article To Several Article Directories
Yes, the Panda is said to hate duplicate content, even if it is all yours. A common myth that is prevalent in the search marketing arena is that it’s not duplicate content, if you use again and again what belongs to you. This is wrong!
Imagine from the perspective of a user who types in a search term and is faced with hundreds of articles offering the exact same information. Google looks at this as being a totally useless experience for the end-user.
So, there you go. The days of posting the same article in several article directories for inbound links are long gone. Even SEO specialist uses this strategy in an attempt to boost the links pointing back at a website.
Something like the following is just not going to work. Changing titles or descriptions doesn’t make the content of the articles unique. Users are only fooled into visiting the article only to realize it’s the same stuff they’ve seen before.
This perhaps is the reason why article directories like ezinearticles.com, associatedcontent.com, articlesbase.com, and suite101.com were some of the biggest losers with the Panda Update – while eHow.com gained in ranking.
Article directories are de-ranked because of the duplicate content posted in them. Webmasters suffer as they are deriving no real search engine optimization value. The end-user is frustrated for lack of informational value. SEO experts everywhere are expecting the new Google algorithm to heavily penalize article directories tagged as “content farms.”
Question & Answer and “How To” Sites Prove Beneficial
Most of us tend to discard Question & Answer sites like Yahoo without a second look, thinking they offer low quality content and are useless. But if you observe what has happened after the Google Panda Update, there are many Q&A sites and “How to” sites that not only survived but gained a great deal, and Yahoo Answers is listed in the top 10 gainers.
Take a look at these interesting statistics that reveal the biggest losers and gainers of the Panda Update.
Q&A sites allow users to find specific answers to their questions and learn new things. The effort it takes for them to find what they’re looking for is minimal. Even the recent trend reveals that people search with “questions” more than ever before. I search using this question a lot, “how to lose weight in 10 days” or “How to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks” or some such thing. I do this all the time and I’m sure many others do too!
QA and “how to” sites have become popular over the last year
Here is a beautiful detailed explanation on how there is undeniable evidence that traffic to these QA and “how to” sites has been on the increase in the last one year. The beauty of these pages is that they are high on search engine optimization and rank well in search results. Since there is so much of unique UGC (user generated content) and they are updated on a continuous basis, Google gives such pages priority over “dead” pages that are not updated frequently. Experts say these QA pages may work very well in 2011.
How QA Sites Will Boost Your Search Engine Optimization
You can find questions relevant to your niche and leave answers along with links to your website. Questionhub can be of great help. It collects questions from QA sites around the Web.
If you’re wondering how “no follow” links can be useful, it really doesn’t matter. You may not get any link juice, but if you respond appropriately with sensible answers, you are gaining not just the visitor who has asked the question, but also many others who ask the same question will follow, once the page gets indexed and ranked high. It’s really scalable.
You can also link to these “how to” sites and QA pages. They can prove valuable for your users who are always on the lookout for useful information. How much better can you do at offering the best content for your visitors?
Check out this article that gives useful information on search engine optimization that caters to the modern and smarter engines.
Final Thoughts On Search Engine Optimization For Panda
Google has refined its search algorithms and will do so in the future too, as a punishment for scammers.
If you look around, you will find that the top sites ranking in the first few results consistently are those that found ingenious ways of becoming content hubs or media hubs. Take the examples of Zappos for “buy shoes online” or Travelpod for “travel blog site.” They may shift up and down, but they are always there.
Satisfying this Panda is easy as it doesn’t really ask for much. All it expects is that we, as marketers, take care of our users. Developing an approach of writing for human readers first should work wonders in converting your readers into regular visitors or customers. Call it search engine “user” optimization if you may.