Optimizing your website to rank well in Google’s organic search results has always been a cat and mouse game. Marketers attempt to game the system, and eventually Google pushes back by updating their ranking algorithms to reset the clock. Their latest set of algorithm tweaks, codenamed “Panda”, contains some of the most controversial changes the company has ever made. Ultimately, Panda improves the quality of search results delivered to Google’s first page for any given query. However, the fallout from Panda is still being felt across the web months after its release.
Panda In A Nutshell
Introduced earlier this Spring at the end of February, Panda was meant to address a very specific concern for Google: content farms. Content farms like Ehow, Mahalo, and Associated Content serve up “niche” material that’s often of poor quality. The sites themselves rank highly overall for non-niche searches due to this niche exploitation strategy. The net effect is to lower the quality of search results all around. Panda is targeted at removing the “niche loophole” for content providers both large and small. If you want to rank highly for a search term no matter how obscure nowadays, your content must be top-notch.
Google’s Short Term Goals
Google’s primary business model since Day One has been to display the most relevant content to their visitors regardless of what they’re looking for. For the time being, they’ve managed to stymie marketers and content farms like Cha Cha that provide low-quality material in niche fields. Google claims to take into account 200+ factors when ranking sites, so it’s difficult to know exactly what will boost your position in the results. Panda seems to place a higher value on backlinks and website reputation when determining how well a website will rank.
Panda’s effects were felt almost instantly, as numerous “content” farms immediately saw their traffic numbers fall off of a cliff. According to rough estimates, Panda impacted up to 12% of websites in the United States in the first month alone.
Demand Media, a company responsible for a number of notable content farms on the web, has seen its stock price plummet since the Panda changes were rolled out. While some small websites have been negatively impacted by the changes, they’ve recovered a lot faster than Demand Media’s web properties in the past few months.
What It All Means
With Panda, Google is trying to allow the most valuable and useful content to rise to the top and take over the highest search rankings possible. In the long run, this is good for both consumers and producers of digital content. The same basic SEO game plan still applies: create great content, promote it through social media and organic search, and ultimately reap the rewards. At the end of the day, the best way to navigate the choppy seas of SEO is to get a well-respected search engine optimisation company to do the heavy lifting for you. That’s one area of E-commerce where it makes sense to farm out the hard work to the professionals.