What Google Panda Update 4.1 Means For Your Content Strategy
The Google Panda Algorithm and its various updates have been keeping webmasters and SEO experts pretty busy with many late nights, ever since the first Google Panda Update, Panda 1.0 was unleashed to the world in February 2011.
Since then, there have been many incarnations and updates to this major search algorithm. Changes at Google are pretty much par for the course, on a daily, if not hourly basis. It’s hard work keeping up-to-date and current with all of Google’s changes with search and SEO.
If SEO isn’t a full time job at your company, it should be. Especially if you want to remain competitive or get the edge on your competition.
Well it wasn’t long ago that we heard about a new Panda algorithm update. And now, the new iteration of the Panda algorithm, Panda 4.1 is live – and if your website has been losing search rankings, it could be because of Panda 4.1.
According BrightEdge, the leading global enterprise SEO & content marketing management platform, some brands saw a mind-boggling 90% loss in their organic search rankings when Panda 4.1 hit the world of search in late September 2014.
So what exactly does this mean and how does it affect your digital marketing strategy?
Pay close attention because I will who you exactly how certain parts of your marketing strategy can be improved, updated, and optimized to battle against being penalized by Google Panda 4.1.
Quick Panda Primer
Before we get into how your content marketing strategy will change based on the Panda 4.1 algorithm update, let’s take a quick minute to give any new comers an update to what the Panda algorithm is and what it actually targets.
Fast Facts on Panda:
- Panda 1.0 released February 2011
- Affected nearly 12% of all search queries
- Panda 1.0 was the most significant algorithm changes in Google’s history
- The intent was to push down the rankings for “low-quality content” sites and websites with “thin content.”
- Panda 2.0 was released in April 2011 and affected just 2% of all search queries.
- Panda 3.0 came out in October 2011 and also only affected just 2% of all search queries.
So what does this mean? Well, Panda essentially killed off the brutal keyword stuffing strategy for many lazy SEO companies, agencies, and consultants.
The Panda algorithm shifted SEO strategy from a focus on only keywords (stuffing) to a more user-focused content marketing and search strategy.
Quick Panda 4.1 Primer
Google continued minor updates to the Panda 3.0 algorithm throughout January and March of 2013. But that was it. SEO “experts” and “gurus” were lamenting about when the next Panda update would come and how major it would be.
Enter late September 2014 and the official rollout to Panda 4.1 begins. See this post from Pierre Far, announcing Panda 4.1.
Panda 4.1 will be doing the same as its predecessor, in that the algorithm will be targeting low-quality sites with much more accuracy. I’m guessing Google has added a few new signals for low quality content to this algorithm. They haven’t confirmed this.
Content Marketing Strategy Tips For Panda 4.1
Google reports that many business websites have been hit in some way by Panda 4.1. The good news is, some small-medium sized businesses websites have benefited from Panda 4.1, however, others have been hit negatively. Have you noticed your businesses website search rankings decrease lately?
If you’re looking for ways to improve your content marketing strategy, and in turn, your search engine rankings and SEO after Panda 4.1, here’s what you need to do.
You need to ensure you have a quality site that is optimized for not only desktop, tablet, mobile, or LED screens, but also one that is mobilized for search in 2015 and beyond.
You must focus on the user experience, your on-page optimization, and the social sharing, conversations, and engagement that is hopefully being generated around your quality content.
1. Quality Content
In order to maintain a competitive SEO strategy and generate the optimal traffic for your website and landing pages, post Panda 4.1, wouldn’t it be super awesome for Google to offer guidelines for quality ratings?
Well do I have a hell of a find for you. Jennifer Slegg published a post on July 2014 titled: Google Rewrites Quality Ranking Guide – What SEOs Need To Know. If you’re in to website development, website optimization, SEO, content marketing and/or social media marketing, do yourself (and your clients) a favour, and read it.
Once you’re armed with the knowledge of what Google views as “quality”, you then need to get to work producing in-depth and optimized, quality content that is useful to your customers and prospects.
2. Page Load Time
Did you know that the time it takes your website to load (page load time) is officially a ranking factor for Google? You do now!
Sometimes some web developers or SEOs overlook this very important factor. Especially on mobile. When looking to build a better website look for a developer or SEO company who follows these 10 SEO optimization Tips and Techniques.
Here’s what Google reported in a June 2009 blog post where Google purposely slowed down its search results to measure the impact on search behaviour.
“Our experiments demonstrate that slowing down the search results page by 100 to 400 milliseconds has a measurable impact on the number of searches per user of -0.2% to -0.6% (averaged over four or six weeks depending on the experiment). That’s 0.2% to 0.6% fewer searches for changes under half a second!
When we slow our own users down [on Google.com], we see less engagement, users love fast sites. A faster web is a good thing all around.”
So take it right from the “search horses” mouth; site speed is now a relevant and important ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm. Did you know it’s already in place for U.S. searchers?
3. User Interface
In keeping with Google’s plan to rank websites on load time, they also want to reward sites that offer a user friendly interface. The user interface (UI) is the means in which a users controls as website, software application, or a piece of hardware.
A good user interface provides a good user experience on your website. This allows your website users to interact and engage with your quality content in a natal and intuitive way.
This type of behaviour increases time spent on your website, click-throughs, which will decrease bounce rate (which is a good thing!), and will likely increase your website conversion goals.
4. User Experience
Speaking of user experience, your website design plays a big role here. For instance, is your website optimized for any screen size – not just smartphones?
User experience involves enhancing the customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided while interacting with your website – on any screen size.
Today, post Panda 4.1, in order to maintain your page one search rankings, you must provide users with a not only a mobile responsive website, but a full on adaptive website.
Your website should be able to be viewed consistently on all size screens. Smartphones, mini tablets, tablets, laptops, desktops, and even LED TV’s. You know how many people surf the internet from their iPad on their flat screen TV? You’d be surprised.
5. Website Optimization (SEO)
SEO is not dead by any means. It’s been evolving. Keywords aren’t dead either. People will always use “words”, whether written, typed, or spoke (voice search), when searching Google or any search engine. The words they use will be “key” for marketers to know. Hence “key-words” live!
It’s my opinion that each and every page on your website – including and especially promotional landing pages, should be optimized with a comprehensive SEO strategy involving short and long-tail keywords, as well as an assortment of related keywords and phrases.
It’s also my opinion that each and every image (other than background images) should be optimized for search and the user. Meaning each image should be of high quality but small file size (150-200kb max).
Each image should also have multiple size options on the server so that the server can load an appropriate sized image, based on the device and screen size the customer is using.
Finally, your images should all have their <alt> and <title> tags optimized with either your primary, secondary, or related keyword, depending on your optimization strategy for that page.
Chances are this may be a daunting task for some of you. If you need some help and expertise with your SEO and website optimization strategy, I’m happy to help you. Email me.
Panda 4.1 Will Help Your Business Do Better In Search!
I think the best thing to understand about Panda 4.1 and the future of your website optimization strategy is to look at the 2 key factors of this algorithm update. One thing that we haven’t talked about in this article yet is the issue of duplicate content and how it affects your website optimization and SEO.
1. Panda targets sites with duplicate content. If you have duplicate content, you likely have low-quality content, according to Google. If not low-quality, then it’s thin-content.
Remember that Google prefers quality content that is useful for users, not keyword stuffed, unoptimized, low-quality content that’s essentially duplicated all over your website or your affiliated sites, and provides no real value to the end user.
2. It’s been said that Panda 4.1 will help small business do better in search. This iteration of the Panda algorithm is said to be a “kinder, softer Panda”, according to Google’s Matt Cutts.
If you recall, Panda was initially used to punish and de-rank content farms, the side effect was enormous for less authoritative sites, where many small websites fall. Worst part was it didn’t matter if the small business website had awesome quality content.
Search Engine Watch says:
“The Panda algorithm was particularly hard on small businesses and greatly decreased their search visibility when compared to larger or “big brand” types of sites that Google seems to favor. This is especially true for product related searches where sites like Amazon or large retailers dominate the results and smaller sites just can’t compete, even if they offer better service or prices.
The same applies for websites offering local services, such as a local real estate agent or a local exterminator, for example, which are being dominated in the search results by national companies, even in situations where the national company doesn’t even offer the service in that particular local area. While local search can solve some of these problems, there remains the issue that their content doesn’t rank well for regular searches.”
Google new Panda 4.1 algorithm update is officially live. Once again, this update is targeting websites with duplicate content and websites with low-quality or thin quality content.
This means that your content marketing strategy needs to be updated and tweaked in order to not be penalized in some way from Panda 4.1.
The good news is, if you’re publishing and sharing high quality content that is useful for your customers and prospects, and in turn they are consuming and engaging with this content, your small business website could benefit from the Panda 4.1 update.
What are your thoughts on Panda 4.1?
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