Google uses algorithms to look for certain ingredients and signals it favours in order to rank websites based on their relevance and authority to the search user.
Every once in a while, Google releases algorithmic updates to make sure it is providing the best service that it can to the search user and to make sure that the user is satisfied with the websites and answers shown when they search for a query.
Panda 4.1 is an algorithmic update from Google that is an evolution of it’s Panda 1 update it rolled out back in 2011.
The update was officially released on the 26th September and the search engine has been slowly rolling out the functionality ever since.
Here is what Pierre Far, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, had to say about the update on his Google Plus post:
Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.
What Websites Are Affected by Panda 4.1?
SEO companies such as BridgeEdge have been doing a lot of research to find out what websites are being penalised by the new algorithm update.
Accumulated analysis of the update shows that 3-5% of search queries were affected by the update, which doesn’t sound a lot, however it is fairly noticeable to search consultants.
Studies show that websites that are set up as ‘content farms’ (this means that they feature content about a range of topics) have been negatively affected. Websites such as Answers.com and HowStuffWorks.com were penalised, and if you go and have a poke around those websites yourselves you will see a lot of unrelated content all side by side.
With this in mind, search analysts have all come to the common understanding that Panda 4.1 is penalising websites for having the following:
1. Websites that have ‘thin’ content
Google is now not focusing on how large a website is to judge authority, but it is now looking at the content that is on the website. Having thin content refers to pages on your website having limited amount of high quality and informative text on them.
2. Duplicate content on your website is intolerable
Although it has always been important to make sure that your website is free of duplicate content, it is now more important than ever to do a full analysis of every single piece of text on your website.
Duplicate content refers to the text or multimedia not being unique and that it is used elsewhere on the internet.
This is all gearing towards Google favouring high quality content that is both unique and informative to the user.
How Will The Update Change My Content Strategy?
It is time for you to start focusing on what Google focuses on the most, and that is the interests of the search user.
There are processes you can take to Panda-proof your website to ensure that you do not get penalised.
1. If you don’t have a blog, get one
We are in an age of digital marketing where “Content Is King”. It is no secret that Google loves content, and so does the internet user.
If you do not have a blog, you will find it hard to appear within the top positions within the search engines.
Coca-Cola have recently taken this to the extreme by creating an entire website which has content at the centre of its purpose which it calls Coca-Cola Journey.
2. Discover your topic niche
As mentioned previously, websites that mimic a content farm are seen as spam and Google doesn’t see the text as being informative or of any value.
It is therefore important that you find a topic niche that is closely tied in with your business and stick to creating content that falls within it.
The research compiled by digital marketers found that websites such as OrganicGardening.com saw a positive affect after the update and as you can see by the content on the website, it is all heavily gravitated around organic food and gardening.
3. Write content users will value
There is no point in writing guides and articles for your company blog if they are not going to be of any value to the user. It is therefore your task to create content that the visitor to your website will find both informative and interesting.
How? Longtail keyword search.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the longer phrases that users are searching in Google.
For example, if you are a website that compares and sells contact lenses online, if you enter ‘contact lenses’ into the Google Keyword Planner and flick through the results, you will eventually find long phrases that users are searching for that are related to your keyword. Searches such as ‘can I wear contact lenses in swimming pools’ and ‘can I wear contact lenses if I have an astigmatism’.
You can then create guides and articles that answers those questions and therefore create content that users are actively searching for.
4. Delete duplicate content
As mentioned before, now is the most important time to get rid of any duplicate content you have on your website.
To do so , you can use a tool like CopyScape and enter in the URL of every page on your website to make sure that the text is not the same, or highly similar, to text elsewhere on the internet.
If you find that you have duplicate content, you must remove it straight away and write copy that is unique to your website.
Having duplicate content is seen as being lazy, and search engines only want to reward websites that are putting in an effort.
5. Every page should be content-rich
Your blog should not be the only place where you focus on writing quality content, you should implement this practice site-wide.
Every single page on your website should feature highly relevant copy, including your; product pages, home page, about us page and even your contact page.
6. Use semantically similar keywords and phrases
The use of semantic keywords has been present ever since Google released an update called Hummingbird in 2013.
Google is now taking into account that not everyone uses the same terminology. For example, in our home county of Essex we say ‘cup of tea’, where as in other counties around England it would be referred to as a ‘brew’.
This is especially important now, when the majority of searches on Google are made via a smartphone when users tend to use more conversational search terms.
7. Panda 4.1 loves active websites
Panda 4.1 loves active websites. it is therefore important that you factor in the time to write content within your weekly schedule.
8. Structure and basic on-page SEO goes a long way
As the search engine aims to present users with websites that are more user-friendly than ever, it is therefore crucial that you implement proper structure within your website copy which helps both Google and the user understand and read you content. You can refer to our On-Page Optimisation For Beginners to touch up on your on-page SEO.
In order to avoid being penalised in the near future you must make sure, as always, that you are writing quality and informative content that will be valuable to the user that is unique to your website on both your blog and on every single page of your website.
If you fear that your website may have been penalised by Google during the Panda 4.1 update, give our digital marketing consultants in Essex a call to find out how we can help get your website ranking again.