Who’s Targeted Now?!
It’s no secret that Google makes hundreds, if not thousands, of search algorithm changes each year. Panda, especially Panda 4.0, is big news in the online marketing world. Matt Cutts tweeted about the rollout on Tuesday. In this post I’ll explore what it means and who is specifically targeted.
A Little History
Google’s Panda is a way for the search algorithm to demote websites with poor quality content who cheat their way up in SERP rankings. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) really has two main ingredients: content and links. They have a symbiotic relationship… as good content that engages an audience is more apt to be shared and linked to. If you’re new to online marketing, here’s a quick review:
Panda – targets sites with poor content. There are marketers who keyword stuff and use computer-generated content to put on blog posts and web pages. It’s been a cat-and-mouse game with Google… trying to cheat the system by publishing new pages for crawlers to index.
Penguin – targets unnatural links. No doubt you’ve heard about offshore companies offering services where they get you links for $100. These links are typically from link farms and other disreputable sources. Penguin smacks websites with unnatural link profiles, especially inbound links that are not industry relevant and of questionable quality.
Hummingbird – major change that rolled out in September 2013. It’s the first step the algorithm’s evolution toward search intent via artificial intelligence.
Earlier this year Google announced a gentler Panda. It’s supposed to be easier on small businesses who have trouble competing against big brands that can afford prolific content generation across online channels.
According to what Google reported to Search Engine Land, Panda 4.0 will affect ~ 7.5% of English-based queries. While this stat seems small, let’s do a little math.
- There are approximately 279 million Internet users in the U.S.
- Google had 67% market share in 2013.
- So, let’s assume Google has 186.9 million U.S. users, and each individual did one query a day.
- Panda 4.0 would affect 14.02 million search queries a day!
Winners & Losers
Just a day after the Panda 4.0 rollout, Searchmetrics announced a winners and losers list. The notable loser heap included:
- Payday Lenders (some completely banished from the index)
On the flip side, big winners were GlassDoor, eMedicineHealth.com, Zimbio among others.
Aggregators with little content are among the biggest losers. Rather than having their own original content, they pull content from external sources. While this isn’t necessarily a bad practice, especially for syndicated content, it points to the need of adding fresh, relevant posts and pages and being mindful of duplicate content.
A Panda 4.0 & Penguin Recipe
There is some good news for Marketing managers of small- to mid-sized organizations. Google recognizes that it’s hard to compete with big brands on a SERP. For example, domain diversity — where brands can no longer dominate the listings on a SERP — is a move to help the littler guy appear in search. Now that Panda 4.0 is rolling out to a SERP near you, what can you do?
- Add new content on a schedule that fits your budget. You don’t have to be a news website, where you are publishing multiple times a day. We suggest committing to a publishing schedule and sticking to it. The more consistent you are, the algorithm bots will figure it out. They’ll come back to your website on a more regular basis to index any changes and additions. In order to be visible online, your content must be indexed first.
- Avoid duplicate content like the plague. If you do re-use content, make sure you use canonicals that point back to the original.
- Understand the search terms (aka keywords) your audience uses. Then, apply it to your website’s structure… but don’t over-stuff. Natural content that educates and engages is rewarded by Panda 4.0.
- Include no-follow links in your press releases. PR links was an overused and abused tactic that Penguin spanked last year.
- Analyze your inbound links to make sure they are relevant and of high quality. This is a specialized skill; you may need to hire a professional (like yours truly).
Are you celebrating or mourning Panda 4.0?
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