Surviving The Google Panda Update
Google's latest attempt to kill off the Content Farms
In the 'Good Old Days', only a few short years ago, Google would introduce one or two major revisions to its ranking algorithm each year. Nowadays, according to Google's Matt Cutts, they carry out minor tweaks on an almost daily basis.
Every now and then, there will be a really large revision to their algorithm, and this is generally given a unique name (sometimes named by Google, but more frequently by the SEO community). This latest update has been named "Panda" by Google, and please don't ask me how they arrived at that name. It certainly is not 'soft n' cuddly' like the little critter on this page :-))
In fact it has severely affected many large Internet businesses to the effect of experiencing traffic reductions in the order of 70 - 80%.
So what was the purpose of introducing Panda? According to Matt Cutts, it is all about improving the quality of Google's organic search results. Primarily trying to eliminate websites created purely for ranking well in Google to earn Adsense revenue by displaying Google ads, and providing very little useful content.
With all major Google algorithm updates, there is always 'collateral damage' and unintended consequences that affect many people like you and I, operating serious websites promoting our 'real' businesses. When the impacts are severe, you would think that Google would immediately reverse the algorithm change until they had worked out what had screwed-up. However Google doesn't operate like that. So long as it has fixed the key problem, they don't worry too much about the damage caused to legitimate websites. Instead, they will work away with multiple tweaks and minor revisions and over days, weeks and months, eventually resolve most of the unintended damage created by the major update.
What is a 'Content Farm'
The website www.ehow.com is a perfect example of a content farm designed exclusively to generate Adsense PPC revenue. There are many other similar sites. Their modus operandi is simply to pay people a very small amount of money (as low as $1.00 - $5.00) per 250 word article. These articles can be on anything from 'toothbrush care and maintenance' to changing the bit on a horse's bridle! Almost all of the articles on websites like Ehow are very shallow, general and usually written by people with no, or very little, experience in the subject matter.
Protecting Yourself From Panda
There now over 200 specific ranking factors now assessed by Google when determining the order to display the Top 10 results. However the collective opinion of the search engine optimisation fraternity indicates the following points are probably the most valuable in ranking well in these 'post-Panda-days'.
Duplicate content... carefully review your website, checking for pages where content has been duplicated, or, is very similar. Revise the wording to ensure that there is at least 20 - 30% difference in text where you have found any instances of duplicate content.
Identical word count... it is a very simple matter for a search engine robot to do a word count of all pages on a website. As the standard method of operating a content farm is to pay people to write 250 word articles, you need to avoid having multiple pages on your site with nearly identical word count.
Future website growth... in the light of this latest update, when creating new web pages, make them all widely different in word count. e.g. If you are planning to add 10 pages next month, make a couple of pages 200 words, another only 100, with several varying from 300 - 1,000 words in length. In short, do as much as you can to avoid having the majority of pages on your site being similar on word count.
Checking the Web for duplicate content... another handy check is to use one of the many 'plagiarism detectors' available on the Internet to see if somebody has already stolen and is making use of your website text. One of the good ones that we frequently use is: www.copyscape.com, but there are plenty of others if you do a simple Google search.
If you would like more specific information on how to boost your website's rankings after Google's Panda Update, please give me a call on 0437 578 897 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEO, Internet Marketing Solution
Clovelly Road, Randwick (Sydney)