Have We Learnt The Lessons Of Panda

In March 2011 Google launched a new algorithm that would change Search Engine Optimisation for ever. Named after one of their engineers, Navneet Panda the new algorithm would through scalable machine learning technology enable Google to measure and collate huge amounts of data provided by quality raters.

Pre Panda Google only had access to a limited data set that graded sites into two groups, those that were liked and those that were not. With Panda Google was now able to take the information from quality raters, trustworthiness, relevance, design etc, which were liked and compare those with what they did not like . Machine learning was now able to take this huge data set and quickly produce measurable graded results. Those sites that were liked were promoted while those which scored poorly in the 100’s of quality checks were downgraded. The cream floated to the top and panda through machine learning was born.

So panda means something new and different for SEO. For years we were preaching that quality was king and all you had to do was create good quality pages, ensure it was relevant, not too spammy, good keyword density and post it in various places to receive a back link. The overall quality of the web sites was never really that important, brand awareness of what users thought didn’t need to be a concern to site owners or SEO experts. Since Panda all this has changed, machine learning has allowed Google to measure qualities that  previously took too long and were thus too expensive to collate and use.

So what do site owners and SEO specialists now have to give consideration to post Panda:

Website Design – if you can make your site modern and fresh, eye catching, user friendly, engaging and generally fun to be on you are going to be in a far better place than sites that contain huge amounts of boring content mixed with advertising and poor navigational structure. Google has now stated publicly that they will be looking now at your entire site so even if your home page and a few internal pages do pass the “quality” test…poor pages on your site will pull down your overall score and your rankings.

Content Quality – Good unique quality content is now not enough. Writing tones of keyword rich content which is grammatically correct and describes the topic is no longer a reason for your site to be pushed up the rankings. Worse than this though if you have in the past or continue to generate 100’s of pages which describe your keyword and post them on your site or use article submission/spinning software..you will be penalized! Ask your self two questions before posting an article a) Has it been written to deceive search engines into thinking your site contains unique content or b) Is the article engaging and is likely that a person reading it would want to share. Here’s a clue one of the answers is correct and its not number the first.

User Metric – Post Panda Google will now be paying a lot of attention to the behavior of visitors to your site compared to that of your competitors.
1. What do user’s do when they land on your home page, do they “bounce off” immediately or browse further through your internal pages.
2. How long are your user’s spending on your site
3. Click though rate from your search results, are people reading your page snippets and linking through to your site
4. Diversity and quantity of traffic – do lots of people visit your site directly, how are they finding your site, do you have a variety of platforms organic, paid, social platforms that drive traffic to your site.

So What To Do Post Panda.

Firstly do not panic, take on board that machine learning is here to stay and has allowed Google to measure site quality in far more depth. Take a look at your analytic’s results have your seen a downward trend in your rankings. Check Google Webmaster account you may have received a message asking your to make corrections to you site.

For those of you that have not been penalized, congratulations you are doing a great job, for those of you that have the time has come to start paying more attention to Google Guidelines and Best Practices. Start today doing things right! Google produces minor Panda updates every 30 to 40 days as it learns, measures and collates your quality score. If you do not see an immediate improvement be please give it time…it will be worth it.

Read about latest Google algorithm change: Penguin

Chris Wright
Chris Wright
Managing Director of Nettonic Ltd a Bedford based digital marketing company specialising in helping businesses to improve their online brand awareness. Linkedin

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