Google Panda update and your website’s Google rankings
The Google search spam group has been very busy planning the updates of both Panda and Penguin for 2013. Most of us are not surprised at all, as Google update their algorithm frequently. Small updates aren’t a problem, but when big updates come people begin to panic, particularly if their websites aren’t following the best SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) standards.
Google Panda explained
What is Google Panda?
Google Panda is an update released by Google that measures the quality of websites. The Panda update, first released in February 2011, lowers the Google rankings of sites with low quality scores, and increases the Google rankings of sites with high quality scores.
According to Matt Cutts head of webspam at Google the Panda update should have been launched on Friday 15th or Monday 18th of March. Although Google is unlikely to confirm this as Panda updates will no longer be officially announced. We are not sure 100% what this Panda update is going to look like, but if you have any insider information, please feel invited to post a comment below. Panda updates are going to keep happening and we have to face up to them and stay unharmed. How to do it? Read on…
The Panda updates so far…
Google has released 23 updates so far, with the first happening on 24 February 2011 and the latest on 18th March 2013. Thousands of websites were hit by the very first Panda update, and businesses lost more than half their traffic. However, the following Panda updates were smaller and less intense, and so no unexpected things happen. Website owners and webmasters should get used to Panda updates, as Google seems committed to making the updates a continuous process.
How do we stay out of Panda’s way?
The Panda Victims
Ever since the first update, people have been striving to figure out what the updates affect. According to an interview of Matt Cutts, the following areas could be the victims of Panda updates:
- Thin Content: All the Panda updates’ main goal is to penalise websites that have little original content. Moreover, websites that have content that is nothing more than ads and links with little value to visitors are also penalised. Shallow content is going to disappear from SERPs.
- Internal Duplicate Pages: Websites that have internal duplicate pages are hit hard by Panda updates. Not that webmasters do this willingly. URL parameters can lead a website to having a lot of similar pages. For example, a website is trying to rank higher for keywords “Melbourne hotels”. A webmaster might think themselves clever by creating two internal pages: one “Melbourne Hotels” and another “Melbourne Best Hotels”. Google gets that, my friend.
- High Advertisement Ratio: Google is very cautious about user experience. Websites that have a high ratio of advertisements and that make readers scroll down before being able to read any content are penalised by Panda updates.
- Low Quality Links: Websites that buy low quality inbound links (those using black hat SEO) are prime targets of a Panda punch. Buying any inbound links used to be a good tactic to rank high on SERPs and people with money [but no quality content] used to love it. However, most of them have given up this shady tactic and now look for more natural, safe and quality links.
- Web Pages with No Content: Websites that have empty web pages are at stake, and are sure going to get penalised.
To make sure your website is not going to get hit by Panda updates, here are the things you could do:
- Get Rid of Shallow Content: If you are not sure if your website content is good or not, use your analytics tool and see how many visits the pages get. Very few visits are an indication of poor content. There are two things you could do to better the pages:
- Add more valuable content that can attract more visitors and raise social interactions.
- 301 redirect them to better and relevant pages if the pages are not needed at all.
- Regular Clean-ups: For large websites that have complex functionality, you should do regular SEO audits, because chances are your site might produce empty and duplicate web pages. Also, fix other technical issues such as broken links, and make use of the canonical tags and 301 redirects. You could, of course, hire an SEO agency to do all these.
- Correct Advertisement Ratio: Correct your website design if the template has a high ratio of ads. Use the ad portions more intelligently. Remember, visitors come to your site in the hope of great content, not great ads!
- No Shortcuts Please: Google hates websites that use shortcuts to get higher rank. Don’t buy questionable inbound links (don’t use black hat SEO), okay!
- Create Quality Content: Make sure your content actually adds value to the visitors. How can you determine if your website content is good enough? Well, use your analytics tool and see page views, social interactions, organic visits and pure inbound links. If all these factors are positive, you are safe…for now.
What do you think the upcoming Google Panda update is going to be like? Let us know in your thoughts…
Google Panda Summary:
Google is has just released its latest Panda update. It is apparently not a big update like the first one back in 2011, and so chances are your website is not going too be hit hard. However, it is still very important to check a few things:
Avoid being hit by Panda
- Google Panda hates websites with thin content.
- Solution: So add great content to your web pages or remove the existing ones that are nothing more than ads and links.
- Google penalises websites that have internal duplicate pages.
- Solution: Run regular SEO audits and fix issues like empty pages and broken links etc.
- Websites with high advertisement ratio are severely penalised.
- Solution: Fix your web design template and reduce the advertisement portion.
- Websites that buy inbound links do sure get a Panda punch.
- Solution: Just don’t do this and save yourself.
- Websites with low quality and empty content are also aimed at by Panda updates.
- Solution: Create quality content, content that adds value to your visitors.
Reference: Flanagan, K. (2013, 15th March). How to Survive Google’s Pending Panda Update. HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Blog, [web log] Retrieved from: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34270/How-to-Survive-Google-s-Pending-Panda-Update.aspx [Accessed: 19th March, 2013].