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Google Panda and what it means for your website and SEO

Written by Brett Sidaway, April 18, 2011
 | Google Panda and what it means for your website and SEO

Google Panda and what it means for your website and SEO

Does Panda mean extinction for your website?

Last Monday, 11th April, Google confirmed that it’s latest algorithm changes, codenamed ‘Panda’, would be rolled out across English-speaking websites following it’s introduction in the USA a month previously.

Amendments to algorithm are a regular occurrence but Panda has sparked widespread interest because of its reported effects on some websites. Followings its introduction in the USA Specialist and Technology firm Greenlight reported review site Ciao lost 99% of its search engine visibility. This has proved particularly controversial as it is owned by rivals Microsoft who had complained to EU about Google’s abuse of its position. Other sites – recently so-called content farms such as HubPages, Mahalo and Ezine Articles – have seen a major fall in visibility. Review sites like DooYoo.co.uk and “how too” sites like Videojug and eHow were similarly affected. Google’s reason for these changes is the same as all other amends to its algorithm: “to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible”. It is just that these latest changes have had a more noticeable effect. By their own admission the initial launch in America affected almost 12% of search results.

How will Google Panda impact on your SEO?

Of course it will largely depend on the type of websites but it seems unlikely. Google, having tweeked the algorithm before the worldwide launch, believe it will affect just 2% of searches. What is clear however is the increased prominence Google is giving, is aimed at two related areas:

  • quality content; and
  • feedback.

Quality content

‘Quality’ is not very clearly defined by Google but, aside from more technical aspects, it’s clear they value highly the actual content of a website. They want the content to ‘give value’ to the site user. They look for the content to be originated for that website. This is both a warning but also an opportunity: content may not be King but it certainly is increasing in importance – a Prince at least – at that means well-written, content-rich and regularly updated websites should enjoy continued, even increased, prominence. At look at some of the ‘winners’ of the Panda changes emphasises this; Mashable, mirror.co.uk and blogspot.com are all in the top 10 winners list according to research done Searchmetrics. Of course these results were based on the first 24hours changes. It will take longer for the true results to become clear, but the principle will remain that relevant, well-written content will be further recognised by Google.

Feedback

The other area that Google have given prominence to is user ‘feedback’ from users via forums, blogs, Twitter etc. Some webmasters have expressed concerns that both of these areas are open to abuse: forums and blogs etc. are not necessarily the completely independent arenas that some users think. However, even with this caveat it offers another great opportunity to develop content and strategy that promotes and encourages:

  • links from other ‘quality’ websites;
  • user feedback; and
  • engagement via social media.

All of the above would be good business practice, with or without the changes to Google’s algorithm. The changes, however, should further encourage businesses to realise that customers, when buying goods and services online, will increasingly look for user generated feedback – either on the website or via social media – and Google will increasingly help them. Whether you think this is a positive move or not, it shows a sign of things to come, especially for those of us in the SEO world. If you would like to build a solid online presence and attract new customers through search engines, you will need to pay attention to these changes. It’s likely that you will need the support of a local SEO Birmingham company and perhaps even a consultant that provides an article writing service and even SEO training courses to help you to get the ball rolling and adapting your strategy to accommodate these changes.

Image credit – Nathan Rupert

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