Google updated their algorithm a few months ago, something done a handful of times a year as they strive to provide the most relevant search results and continue on their path to world domination of all things related to search. Most often the changes go unnoticed to the average user and the updates rarely are named, but this one was a little different.
Google called the update “Panda,” rumored to be named after one of their engineers. Industry people labeled it the “Farmer” update, however, because it intended to push ranking results lower for sites considered to be content farms. Content farms are sites with little content depth, but lots of different topics. Sites with a large amount of content mostly used by site owners and SEO firms to place backlinks to other websites are also considered content farms. Whether or not this type of content is worthy of ranking on its own merits has always been a question for discussion and disagreement in our industry.
Google apparently decided that too much poor content from such sites had worked its way into their top tier of rankings, and the content was not giving end users a terrific experience. They took action, with the end result being that many sites in the “content” space lost quite a bit of traffic.
In every update there are winners and losers. Some true content sites like EzineArticles.com saw their web traffic cut by more than 12% following the update. Other self-proclaimed, high-quality content producers were hit drastically and had to adjust to keep expenses in line with revenue. Mahalo.com reportedly let 10% of their staff go as a result of the update. The negative results experienced by those on the losing end of the algorithm update were offset by the rise in rankings of websites that Google believes are rich in content enjoyed. This was a pleasant surprise for many site owners who have spent time providing great content upfront.
What To Do If You Think You Were Impacted By The Change
If you think your ranking has suffered under Panda, first determine if the algorithm change is really to blame. If you have Google’s free Analytics tool installed, simply go back and look at traffic prior to February 24 and then the week after that date. If you see a significant drop, you need to consider returning to the basics of providing great and unique content, which is really the point of the whole algorithm change. Study the pages that rank above you, and then revise your site’s pages, following conventional on-page SEO techniques to make your pages better and more specific than those of your competitors. Make sure your pages are the only ones a reader needs to visit to find everything they need to know about your topic. If you accomplish this, ranking should return to its previous levels or even be improved.
Panda’s Impact On SEO Industry
Our industry needs to return to its core value of providing high-quality content. Panda may be pushing us in that direction faster than some wish, but we need to grasp the concept that targeted, specific content will still win the day (and the ranking competition). Many article and blog sites used for link building purposes are awakening to this point and changing the way they use content. Since Panda, more human scrutiny has been evident at most article repository sites (especially EzineArticles.com), and many blog sites have cut the number of outgoing links per blog post back to just one. Steps such as these force us all to write targeted, quality content, which in the long run will make the web a better place.