Google Panda Update – The Bear of the SEO Industry
I do apologize for that awful pun, but the Google Panda update has caused a huge stir in the SEO world. Google updates their algorithm all the time, but every once in a while they have a big update that completely changes the game. Google Panda was a massive update by Google to their search engine to limit content scrapers (people who steal content and host it on their own sites in the hopes of getting revenue from ads). Many legit sites saw a major drop in traffic and ranking, and Panda has changed (drastically even) the way SEO works. The latest update is starting to clear the fog, and Google has been explaining their reasoning behind the Panda Update.
To put it in plain English: Google is trying to find a scalable way for the search engine to 'learn' what people like and find relevant. Google takes a bunch of websites that people like verses a bunch of sites that people don't like and has created a quality rating algorithm to help them determine what a good site is. Good sites rank higher than bad sites. Where it used to be content content content, Google is now essentially following human trends and trying to base some of it on that. For a very broad example, if most people who land on a green website immediately hit the back button, Google will likely begin to catch this trend and decide a green site is not as good as other colors. This is just a theoretical example, and certainly only a small piece of the SEO pie, but still a significant perspective to have when it comes to optimizing your site. Design, layout, content, and biggest of all, AUTHENTICITY are all big factors. So what does this change for us? Only a little. Content is still very important. Ease of navigation, which is important for end-users, is still important for search engines (going to out-of-the-box can really dissuade users from staying on your website for long). In fact, everything that is important for a good user experience should be important to any website owner anyway. Other initiatives, such as Social Media, Video, and community building are best practices. Social media, blog content, videos, and a commitment to interacting with your customers and prospects publicly on the web with these modern-day tools will make all the difference on the search engines, not to mention your other PR and marketing initiatives. While some see Panda as the end of the world, others are seeing it as an opportunity to focus on their user even more. Site owners can finally ask themselves "Is my site worth coming to? Is my content worth reading? Does my website provide a useful user experience worth sharing?" If that answer is no, it's time to start working on it.