New Google Algorithm Update From An Old Friend
Have you been hearing rumours that we’ll see a new Google algorithm update soon. Again! I have and I wasn’t surprised. From the sounds of things coming from Google at the Search Marketing Expo West Conference, 2 weeks ago, it looks like we may see another new Google algorithm update from a familiar beast: that much loved Panda algorithm.
Google has released Panda updates in the past. Most have been lighter updates and this possible new Panda update for 2014 will likely be a soft update as well. Even though Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts, said there would likely not be any further updates to the Panda algorithm, the masters at Google are likely working on one now.
The good news for some website owners is that these lighter Panda updates have helped small business websites. As we know, all SMBs can use a break when it comes to Google search and SEO in general. A recent article by Richard Eaves, published on Steamfeed says:
“According to Google Webspam Head Matt Cutts, the coming Panda update may help previously hit websites, particularly small business sites, recover further. For many of the webmasters who may still be struggling to recover from Panda’s first release, this is certainly great news.
However, Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land and SE Roundtable has a suspicion that this update may not arrive for a few months at least. In spite of the possible wait, some webmasters are certainly looking forward to it.”
Schwartz published an article in July 2013 showing that by Google softening the Panda algorithm with recent updates is helping penalized websites now recover from a previous, more hardcore, Panda update.
To quote from Schwartz’s article, website owners are saying:
“seen very big changes – clearly Panda recovery. Dramatic change on the 12th and sustained since. Average rank position, # of unique search terms driving to site both improved as well.”
“Major improvements here starting on the 12th and leveling off today. Traffic is now about 5% higher than 2012 after being 25% lower all year long.”
How To Prepare For Panda
Even though this possible algorithm update will be a ‘softer’ Panda and should help penalized sites to recover, you’ll probably want to ensure your site is compliant and set up to meet Google and web standards.
Google’s main intent for Panda is for the search engine to be able to deliver users high quality websites related to their search query. Google’s blog post from February 2011 says:
“Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.”
Google will punish sites that publish poor quality content and practice shady, black-hat SEO practices. They do this by burying the website pages deep in search rankings.
On the other had, Google will reward websites that publish quality content, regularly, that gets shared and accumulates quality backlinks. They also look to reward websites that are mobile responsive, adaptive, and compliant to web standards.
How To Create High-Quality Content
1. Create value for your audience. Value will be returned by users.
2. Create relevant content that helps answer your customer’s problems or questions.
3. Keywords are still important, but don’t “stuff” keywords into your copy.
4. Use Google suggest and do extensive keyword research, both long tail and short tail, to come up with many relevant keywords and phrases.
5. Publish different types of content in various formats. use video, images, podcasts, and slideshare decks.
6. Make sure your spelling and grammar is correct. Google will reward websites for proper grammar. If they aren’t officially doing it now, they will. Believe that.
7. Optimize all of your on-page content. Copy, links, images, and back-end meta data.
8. Dig deep into your analytics and look for opportunities to create new pages or new blog articles based on topics that people were searching for that led them to your website. You can find this information in Google Analytics as well as Webmaster Tools.
Regardless of what Google says, there will always be updates to their algorithms. Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird all are working together, with different functions. Updates to each are necessary as change is inevitable.
The key is to stay on top of your website, publish relevant content, share on social media, use responsive/adaptive web design, make sure your site is compliant to web standards, use Google+, optimize.
In short: your digital strategy should include the right mix of content + search + social. It must be ongoing due to the many changes that happen in content, search, and social each day. It must provide value.
Let me know what you’re doing to maintain your website rankings through Google’s search algorithm changes. Were you punished by Panda? Did your website improve after the last soft Panda update? Please sound off in the comments.
* Featured Image: Flickr