I briefly touched on the recent Google Panda update in my last blog, so I thought I'd give you a better insight into what's changed and how this will affect your website performance.
Google rolled out Panda 4.0 in May of this year, but what is Google Panda? Well, Google Panda is an algorithm Google uses to rank websites, ranking higher quality sites and improving overall user experience. So what's changed and how will this affect your SERP (search engine ranking performance). Well, the update is mostly centred around having quality and original content on your website, but there are other areas that it has affected.
Quality & Original Content
Google have been shifting this way for a while now, rewarding websites with higher rankings for having high quality content on their website. Due to the recent update eBay took a massive hit, dropping 33% of their visibility, this was due to eBay having "thin" content on their website. For example product pages tend to have a title, an image and a small description. However be mindful and aware that those articles that claim that there are 8 easy ways to miraculously jump you to the top of page 1 on Google, because they are lying, there are no easy ways. Blogging is not a quick fix, it's a long term strategy with a long term goal attached at the end. But don't let this get you down, don't think of blog content as a way of increasing SERP, think of it as a way of improving your users experience and adding value to your site, the rest will come with time, you may be surprised that you enjoy doing it. Not only is it great for your content strategy, it's great for your social media strategy as well - I'll get to that later.
So you've got the quality content, but is it original? If it's not then you may want to think again before posting. You will be penalised for copying content, even copying snippets from other content is a no go, so do your research and write it yourself! Make sure you avoid syndicated content as well. What is syndicated content? Syndicated content is content that is pushed through third party websites, or consumed by a website, it used to be a clever way of distributing content and getting clicks through to your website. However a lot of websites with syndicated content have taken a hit due to the recent update. So, try to avoid consuming or distributing syndicated content, Google will see it as duplicate content.
Social media has been an essential part of marketing for a while now and Google are placing more emphasis on the importance of social media for SERP. There has been a positive correlation with social sharing on Twitter and Facebook and SERP, but here's the kicker, Google+ received a higher correlation, are you shocked? no it's not surprising. The best piece of advice I could give for your social media strategy is, incorporate your content strategy with your social media strategy. Actively share the content you produce through a variety of different social media platforms, incorporating links. Don't ignore Google+ as it seems Google are favouring their own social media platform and will likely push it more in the future Even if it doesn't do much for your ranking, it's a great way of distributing your content , engaging with consumers and getting traffic to your website.
The way Google looks at links has also changed. Before, a link was a link and the more you had linking to your website the better your domain authority. Obviously this led to people spamming links to their website all over the place. Focus on ethical link building, making sure links appear to be natural and from high authority sites.
I've touched on this before and it is not exclusive to Panda 4.0 but I'll mention it anyway. Keywords are important on a website, but don't get hung up on keyword density or anything along those lines, just make sure your content is easy to read and doesn't look unnatural, like you're trying to cram as many keywords into a sentence as possible. A top tip is to get someone else to read it out loud, if it sounds abnormal then you probably have too many keywords.
With the latest update it's important to focus on quality and original content, being published regularly on your website and incorporating content marketing with your social media strategy.