Why Does Google Have a Panda and How Is It Affecting My Website?
If you are well versed in the online marketing world, you have most likely heard that Google announced the Panda 4.0 algorithm update on May 20th via Matt Cutts’ Twitter account. For those of you not heavily acclimated with search engine optimization or online marketing, you are probably wondering why Google has a Panda and what it has to do with your small business’ website.
But really, why does Google have a panda?
Let’s get one thing clear – Google does not have a physical panda. It is actually the name of a search engine ranking algorithm created by a Google engineer by the name of Navneet Panda. Simply put, this algorithm helps high-quality websites rank higher than websites with minimal and/or low-quality content.
If you have no knowledge of how the search engine optimization process operates, just know that algorithms take numerous factors into consideration to determine the position of websites in the search results. From the quality of the content to the link profiles to the structure of the website, the list of criteria is almost endless.
What’s the point of Panda 4.0?
The Panda algorithm was introduced in February 2011 to combat the complaint that ‘content farms’ and websites with copied content were ranking higher than websites with true, original content. The algorithm was Google’s attempt to reward websites with high quality content with greater visibility in the search results, and limit (or eliminate) the exposure for websites with mass amounts of copied, syndicated, or ‘scraped’ content. After multiple (and monthly) tweaks and updates, we’ve landed on Panda 4.0.
Let’s think of this from the small business owner’s perspective.
You work hard to please your customers. When they have a complaint, of any kind, you deal with it promptly and find a solution to combat the situation from occurring again in the future.
With Google’s Panda algorithm and recent update, they are doing the same thing. Imagine if you searched for ‘small business tips’ on Google, and your search results brought you to websites and pages for a completely unrelated topic such as “How to Plant the Best Damn Garden Ever”. You’d be pretty frustrated, correct? For a great analogy comparing Google and the Panda algorithm to a grocery store, check out this article.
The Panda 4.0 algorithm is simply continuing and improving upon the goal of improving search visibility for top-quality relevant websites.
Double Check Your Tactics and Past Strategies
With the latest update to the Panda algorithm, your website may have experienced a significant drop or rise in traffic/search rankings. Once again your results directly relate to your efforts with content. If you see a dramatic decrease in ranking or traffic, ask yourself:
Are you lazily copying industry articles to your blog?
When did you last update your website design and content?
Are you optimizing your website correctly, or are you simply copying and pasting the same titles and descriptions to each page?
To make a long story and explanation short, you need to avoid:
- Replicating content from other websites or entities
- Old website designs, structure and information (Update, update, update!)
- Taking short cuts with your onsite optimization
- Keyword stuffing (always)
Once upon a time, these tactics may have worked. However, they are long gone and will not be returning any time soon. It’s time to adapt your strategy.
So, now what do I do?
In order to actively ensure that your website receives exposure and visibility on search engines, be sure to use the following tactics or ‘rules of thumb’.
Create Original Content
Your customers are going to your website for information, so give it to them! But remember; make sure it is content you or your company created. You can easily position your business to be an online resource for customers by regularly publishing authentic blog posts, information for customers, and other forms of content including:
- White Papers
The list goes on and on. Get out there and create informative content for your audience.
Never, ever duplicate content
Duplicate content extends farther than just plagiarizing another article on the Internet. Having the same content on multiple pages of your website, over and over again, can prove to be detrimental to your search result ranking as well.
Instead of copying and pasting the same content from page to page, use captivating ways of saying the same message (if you absolutely need to). For instance, if you want a call to action on each of your pages, don’t say “Call Us Today” every single time. Try using phrases such as:
- Stop by our location
- Give us a call today
- We can’t wait to meet you
- Connect with –insert company name here- today!
- And whatever clever call to action you can think of.
Don’t forget that avoiding duplicate content relates to your onsite optimization efforts as well. Remember to use authentic and appealing meta titles and descriptions. It is in the best interest of you, your business and your website to take the time and craft each individual tag and description.
All in all, if you have no intention of attempting to manipulate the search engines using unethical and black hat techniques, and you provide your website visitors with intriguing and authentic content – you’ll be just fine with the Panda 4.0 update. On the flip side, if you haven’t updated your website in what feels like forever and you NEVER publish content, you will most likely be negatively impacted by the Panda 4.0 update soon.
Quick Tip – Remember to monitor your search ranking, analytics, and traffic to determine whether or not you were affected by the algorithm update.
Are you unsure of what the previous terms mean, how to implement search engine optimization techniques, and utterly confused after reading about Google and Pandas? Call the Titan Web Marketing Solutions SEO team today – we’ll help you understand and assist your online marketing efforts. Give us a ring at 615-890-3600.