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  • Feeding the Google Panda: Why You Can’t Be Complacent

    Feeding Panda

    Google’s Panda update has had a major impact on search engine optimization (SEO).  Although it came out a year ago, it continues to influence how we optimize websites and marketing content for search engines. As a result of the algorithm update, Google has regained the upper hand once again.  Simply put, if you want your site and online marketing strategy to succeed, you must feed the Panda.  This requires you to do everything that will allow the new algorithm to score your site and content high enough to be included at the beginning of search engine results pages (SERPs).

    But what, exactly, do you need to do to meet Panda requirements?  For starters, understand what the update means for SEO.  Then apply this information to your own website.  Make changes if you need to and go forward from this point on reviewing all you do through the frame of Google Panda.  Avoid tactics that try to trick search engines into ranking your site higher than it deserves.

    Panda’s Diet is Strict

    Google Panda feeds on high quality content.  You need to insure you have no duplicate content. Content that has spelling and grammatically errors as well as nonsensical content are viewed as low quality by search engines. The Panda also likes uniqueness.  Original content that provides new information and insights to readers gains points with the Panda.  Relevancy is the other ingredient that should be considered.  This means that all of your SEO efforts must be related to your primary website purpose.  Links, affiliates, and keywords should not be misleading or of little interest to your customers.

    Google is committed to insuring their customers have the best search experiences possible.  To this end, the Panda update focuses on weeding out sites that do not have high quality content and are not useful to Google users. And they will reward those sites that provide relevant quality information on a regular basis.

    It’s All about Freshness

    Google Panda feeds on freshness.  Provide new content frequently to meet this requirement. Sites that only have old content are ranked lower on SERPs. The quality of the content is more important than the quantity. Content farming is out.  Panda is also known as the Farmer update because it specifically targets this particular SEO practice. You need to provide fresh content to increase your site rank.  You have many means of accomplishing this including blog entries, social media posts, article writing, and press releases.

    Even your paid search marketing activities need to meet the freshness threshold. Without fresh content, you will soon be lost in the sea of websites that continue to grow on a daily basis. If you want to stand out and be noticed by Google and customers alike, you need to say something new, position content in a new way, or look at a particular topic from a different perspective.

    Add Plenty of Protein

    Keyword-rich content is still recommended.  Watch keyword density so the Panda does not mistakenly penalize you for keyword stuffing. Try new and creative approaches to SEO – just be sure they align with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines as well as their Service Terms and Conditions.  Your goal here is to become a high-trust domain.  You need to be viewed as an authority site by Google to get ranked high on SERPs.

    Strategies to achieve this include getting social media followers, including those through Google+.  Pages on Google+ are now being indexed and included on SERPs. Blogging on topics relevant to your customers is a great way to establish your authority, especially if you can get followers to comment on your posts. Interaction tells search engines customers are interested in your content. And if you can somehow connect to other high-trust domain and authority sites, you can quickly get ahead of your competitors.

    Lose the Fat

    Get rid of everything that does not strengthen your site’s goal of becoming an authority site. Limit affiliates and ads on your site.  You should have more content than anything else. Your site’s purpose should be to provide the best information to your visitors.  Determine how much time you spend on SEO and how much on customer care.  Your focus should be on your customer. If you are spending more time on SEO, you need to reevaluate your activities. Always write for your customers.  Anything you do that does not directly target your customers should be eliminated.

    Google believes that the bulk of your SEO goals should be accomplished naturally.  If you write for your customers instead of the search engines, you will be providing the type of content that search engines want and will be ranked higher. Don’t force it – let it occur organically.  Of course, this does not mean that you will not implement SEO tactics, but Google suggests balancing it so that the majority of your traffic is organic.

    No Imitations Will Do

    Authenticity is essential in the new SEO environment. It is necessary to be honestly interested in your customers. Your reputation depends on it.  And a strong reputation is the only way you will be able to sustain your high-trust domain status.  Gone are the days when you can build a website for the primary purpose of making money with little attention given to customer care.

    Google is continually improving its algorithm so it can better detect problem sites.  Google will steer their customers away from such sites by placing them lower on SERPs which reduces the chances they will be seen by searchers. Prevent this from happening to your site by removing bad links, correcting page redirects, ending the use of duplicate domains, and eliminating doorway pages that have been deemed as be misleading by Google.

    Spice It Up

    If you want customers to read what you write, your content needs to be engaging.  Flat or boring writing simply will not suffice if you expect Google to use it to drive traffic to your site. You will not get followers with that type of content.  And followers help with your SEO and page rank.

    Go ahead and be controversial. Controversy is a great way to gain new followers and get current followers to respond to your content.  People like being heard but they are unlikely to respond to plain vanilla content.  Give them spice and you will be feeding the Panda in the process.

    Garnish with Value

    Panda’s bottom line is that your site must offer value to their customers.  And their customers are your prospective customers. You need to provide something that other sites don’t.  This can be tricky if you are an affiliate site – somehow you need to be able to describe products and services in a way that is different from the main company.

    Hiring a copywriter can prove invaluable for this type of content. Experienced content writers can make your products and service appear unique even if they are not. But you should still figure out a way to provide other tangible benefits to your customers. The more valuable your content is to customers, your credibility increases as does your page rank.

    Presentation Counts

    Visitors should be able to easily navigate your site.  Landing pages should make sense based on keyword searches and resulting links. Customers should not be surprised when they get to your site.  Nor should they get frustrated. And they will if they can’t figure out how to use your site. If you have a high bounce rate indicative of visitors quickly leaving your site, search engines will be able to tell there is an issue with your site even if they can’t identify the specific problem.

    Panda basically tests your site through its indexing process. Sitemaps can help with this process. Be sure to optimize images with ALT tags so that spiders can “read” all of the graphics on your sites. Test the usability of your site. Make sure all internal links work properly.  Headlines should clearly indicate what visitors can expect from you on each of your web pages.  Avoid flash and other animations that can slow the loading of pages. This is particularly problematic on the homepage or other landing pages.

    Don’t Serve with Whine

    Just accept that Panda is here and SEO has permanently changed as a result.  If you have fallen in page ranks, it is probably due to black hat SEO tactics. You can easily correct these problems and resubmit your site to Google for indexing.  You may not immediately get your original rank back, but by following these guidelines, you can rebuild your rank and reputation.

    It will not do you any good to complain.  In fact, you should prepare for future updates to continue to build on Panda’s requirement for improved content for Google customers. Don’t bother trying to find new ways to trick Google. You will save time and money by approaching SEO legitimately.

    As long as you remember that the primary intent of Google Panda is to improve search results for Google customers, you will be better positioned to succeed with SEO.  Even as Google continues to fine tune its algorithm, it will always focus on improving customer experience on its search engine. Assuming this as your priority as well allows you to feed the Panda and get ranked higher on SERPs. Now is not the time to become complacent with SEO.

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