On July 17th Google started rolling out an update to it’s algorithm called Panda 4.2, increasing their menagerie*. There are few details and even fewer examples of any traffic or ranking related movement among SEO circles so far, but this is likely to change. This article explains what the update means to website owners.
Google started their assault on spammy sites several years ago by creating several “filters” through which websites are processed to adjust search engine positioning. The most important two of these filters are briefly explained below for those of you who have better things to do with their spare time than to read marketing blogs. *ahem*
Google Penguin was introduced in April, 2012 with the aim of reducing the efficacy of bad linking practices. Unscrupulous internet marketers had a propensity of building links as the primary means of increasing keyword position. This worked incredibly well for many years, with little more effort than a “search and spam” approach, until Google rolled out their Panda update. Nowadays, it’s advisable to focus on creating awesome content which people will naturally want to link to.
Panda was first reported in February of 2011, again with a singular goal; re-order search engine results pages (SERPs), with the quality of the content being the metric of the day. Some sites saw rankings go up as Google identified the value of their content while, conversely many sites saw a drastic reduction in visibility on Google.
So let’s get started with an obligatory list of things that will set off the Panda Google filter:
- Pages with little or no content.
- Content copied from another website.
- Syndication of content.
- Overt guest blogging.
There have since been around 30 updates to this aspect of Google’s search algorithm alone. As this is a filter update and not a modification to the core algorithm, it will also apply all past Panda signals.
Google suggested this filter update will affect 2%—3% of English queries. That may sound like a small number, but 3% of all of the English pages on the internet is a staggering number.
Avoiding a Panda Penalty
Before we get inundated with calls asking how this can be avoided, the answer is one we often repeat: don’t try and cheat, because you will get caught sooner or later.
As this update focuses on quality of content we, as internet marketers, should focus on the same thing. Creating quality content is more important than ever, and simply writing blog posts for the sake of writing them no longer works. Authoring original content which is of value to your users is far more important than how many words you can produce.
There is a slightly more technical step that can be taken to help mitigate unintended damage caused by most content management systems… *drum roll*
The canonical tag was introduced in February 2009 by Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. The tag is used to show a canonical or original version of several web pages. Adding the tag into the page head section will tell search engines which page should be favoured.
This will help to reduce internal pages being unintentionally marked as duplicate content. Adding canonical tags is one of many measures we take to ensure your website isn’t affected by updates to search engines such as the ones we have mentioned here.
* Google filter names include Penguin, Panda, Pigeon, and Hummingbird. Although the Panda update was named after a Google employee I like to think that they have an actual real life zoo at Google HQ.
The natural search team at Michael Bell One has years of experience developing and marketing websites with great user experience at the forefront of everything that we do. We utilise a whole host of strategies for content creation and marketing that will be tailored to your needs. If you would like to discuss what Michael Bell One can do for you please do get in touch with me (James Golding) or any member of the team. You can contact us by calling 01273 478822 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.