Have you seen #fuelthepanda in the latest issue of BARK Magazine or on some of our marketing materials recently? Do you know what we’re talking about?!
Unfortunately we haven’t given a panda a home at Spindogs HQ, we’re referring to helping your website perform better with one of Google’s key algorithms – known as “Google Panda.”
Ever since the launch of the Panda algorithm in 2011, businesses have had to take a different approach to their website’s content.
To put it simply, the Panda algorithm looks to promote high quality websites at the expense of those which are not.
If a website’s ranking has been negatively impacted by the Panda algorithm, website owners are currently forced to wait until the algorithm is refreshed before their rankings can recover. The last update was announced in July, with the previous update being in September – almost 10 months before!
Prevention of falling foul of the Panda is certainly easier than a cure – with this in mind, here are a few top tips:
Identify & rectify your low quality content
Identifying your low quality content can be somewhat tricky, but as a starting point, take a look at your landing page report in Google Analytics and segment the Google only traffic. Take a look at the metrics such as bounce rate and the amount of time users have spent on the page. If the bounce rate is high and users don’t appear to be taking the time to read your content, it’s a pretty solid indicator that your content isn’t up to scratch.
Low quality content can cause the Panda algorithm to impact your entire site even if a high percentage of your content is valuable and unique. Back in 2011 Google published a post on their Webmaster Central Blog to help you identify low quality content, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
If you have multiple articles discussing the same topic, it makes sense to re-write and combine these articles into one definitive piece of content (without forgetting to 301 redirect the redundant urls to the definitive piece). If you aren’t sure which url your definitive piece should be on take a look at the current ranking positions, existing metrics on Google Analytics and the amount and types of websites linking to your content via Google Search Console, or a third party tool such as Majestic SEO or OpenSiteExplorer.
If your website’s CMS creates multiple versions of pages, or if you have published content directly from other sources it’s worth blocking the crawling and indexing of these urls via robots.txt and .htaccess.
Focus on publishing exceptional, unique content
The Google Panda algorithm looks to demote websites that simply copy and paste content from other sources. To avoid this, you need to focus on creating and publishing your own exceptional content that your audience wants to read and share.
Here are a few questions to consider when you are creating your content:
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
As you can see, simply rewriting a piece of content isn’t going to cut it, you need to spend time researching, refining and making sure your content stands out from the crowd, especially if you are in a competitive niche.
If you run an ecommerce website, chances are your products’ information and description has been published direct from the manufacturer, meaning that this content appears elsewhere. To avoid potentially feeling the wrath of the Google Panda, you should write unique product descriptions and information. You can also take this a step further by encouraging your customers to write reviews on the products – making your product pages even more unique.
You could also invite potential customers to ask questions and publish your answers for all to see, this not only helps makes your product pages even more unique and valuable, the content being published can help increase the amount of sales your website makes.
Focus on what you know
Google Panda wants its search results to be full of websites that our knowledgeable and passionate about their topics, so it’s up to those who are producing the content to establish their websites as this.
This means that you should focus on creating content that is on-topic for your business and not stray away from it if you want to fit in with what Google is looking for.
Here are Google’s questions which will help focus your efforts:
- Is this article written by expert/enthusiast who knows the topic well?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
This won’t happen overnight, but if you build your content with this in mind, your website will be seen as authoritive by both Google and your visitors.
Display any advertising wisely
If you are displaying banner or any other form of advertising on your website, then you need to be mindful of the amount and positioning.
Google wants to present searchers with the best possible experience, websites which are top heavy with advertising are frustrating to use, so Google launched a the “Page Layout” algorithm in 2012 to further enhance the work Panda was doing.
This algorithm does not look to affect websites that place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but will impact those that load the top of the page with ads excessively or make it hard to find the actual original content.
So if your website does have a lot of advertising, it’s time to make sure that they are not moving the focus away from your content and not pushing it too down the page. Having the content “above the fold” of your page is always going to be recommended.
While we have given you some tips to help your website perform better with Google Panda in mind, we realise it can be quite daunting. At Spindogs we have the skills and know-how to make your website Panda friendly and to produce the exceptional content the Panda craves!
Don’t delay, get in touch and we can #fuelthepanda!