Some of you may have read about the Google Panda update that was released Feb 2011. Upon it’s release there was a lot of chatter on the web about how it would affect the search results not only for general users but more importantly for business/web site owners who are running, e-commerce sites, affiliate sites, price comparison sites and more.
Now for your average Jane Dentist, Joe Tradesmen (no stereotype intended) you are not going to see a huge difference. You still need to focus on creating good easy-to-read content along with the other strategies, but for e-commerce sites, deal aggregator sites, there are some things you need to look out for.
Primarily Googles Panda update is focused on cleaning up a lot of the content farming and spam sites you might come across. These are sites that don’t really have a whole lot of content, instead listing a huge amount of links to all different pages on the site. On that site would sit Google Adsense, which pays the site owner each time someone hits that site. It goes something like this:
Site owner creates huge site with many pages with integrated ads > Google ranked this site high thinking that there was a whole lot of information on the site (mainly due to all the pages) > Site comes up on the first page of Google so you naturally click it thus increasing the ranking of the site > when you enter the site Google pays the site owner for the ad impressions > customer walks away with nothing as there was no useful information on the site
Here are some things that the Google Panda update is targeting:
- Reduce spam
- Combat sites such as ‘content farms’
- Improve scraper detection
- Filter low quality content
- Close vulnerabilities in its algorithm
Websites affected are:
- E-commerce sites with poor product pages
- Thin affiliate sites
- Sites designed to host ‘Ad-sense’ (Advertising)
- Article sites with low quality or duplicated content
- Price comparison sites with thin content
- Travel sites with poor or duplicated reviews
- Websites with poor usability and branding
So what do you do if you have been affected by the Panda update?
If you own a site that falls into one of the above categories, who has been affected by the Panda update last year then you need to do something about it and act fast. Here are some recommendations for you:
For e-commerce sites, try not to use duplicate product names. For example say you run a promotional merchandise store and you sell keyrings. You should label them Keyring – Metal or Keyring – Plastic, even adding colours is a good way to resolve duplicate product labels. This falls under the usability category where the point is to be as descriptive as possible. If google finds it hard to distinguish your products, guess what, so will your customers. The same goes for your product descriptions. If you are using the same product descriptions throughout the keyring category then you may rank lower than someone who is using unique product descriptions. The reason for this is that Google is looking for unique high quality content for it’s users to create the best user experience. You should be employing the same principals.
For link intensive sites like directories try and break up your links into manageable sections and then provide a good text to links ratio for each page. What I mean by this is that Google doesn’t just look at your links and think “wow this site has a lot of useful information linking to all these different pages” anymore. They look for link context. For example: say if you have a page called Plumbers and on that page at the footer you have a whole bunch of links going to the areas you service – Google will come across that page and get confused as it won’t know what is relevant to the user. If for example you reduce the amount of links you have in the footer relating to your service areas and instead focus more on the Plumbing category, links and information on that page, you may find that when users search for “plumber” your plumbing page might be ranked higher in the search results. The reason for this is that Google looks at that page and see’s relevant information and content specifically relating to the Plumber category and thus ranks it higher in the search results.
Here are some other general tips you should follow:
- Create unique, high quality content – add value to your site!
- User signals have always been important but now they’re a ranking factor! A high bounce rate suggests that the result didn’t satisfy the search. Why? Evaluate and refine!
- Make yourself known! It takes more than a press release to establish yourself as a brand, much more… Engage, make noise, be heard, be cited, build trust!
- Diversify your traffic sources – find your community and engage!
- Housekeeping – if you have old pages which are weak and add no value, clear them out! Its quality, not quantity!
Ultimately if you have been affected it means you are doing something wrong and need to address those issues as quickly and effectively as possible. Just remember “Content is King” and all these backlinks, seo tips and tricks, pagerank mean nothing if your users are going to have a bad experience on your site.
If you want some more information or have any questions, drop me an email – I would love to help out.