Contrary to what you may have first thought, the Google ‘Panda’ update has nothing to do with black and white fluffy things that have a penchant for bamboo. It actually relates to the recent algorithm update that has been rolled out in all English speaking countries in late February 2011.
The algorithm change, also referred to as the ‘Farmer’ update, was aimed at identifying low-quality sites within search results, often referred to as ‘content farms’. They are deemed to be low-quality sites based on elements such as: shallow content, poorly written content, content that has been copied or duplicated from other sites, or content that isn’t considered useful.
You can read more from the official Google post here, but the overall aim of this update was to improve a user’s search experience by attempting to provide high-quality, relevant results.
However the rollout of this new algorithm has caused concern amongst many site owners that their websites may be adversely affected. There has been particular worry over those high-quality sites who fall victim to ‘content scrapers’, who copy and re-use original content.
Amit Singhal from Google recently posted More guidance on building high-quality sites on the Google blog. While he doesn’t divulge the actual ranking signals, we have surmised a few of his main points here for you:
- Make sure the content on your site is of a decent length and is written for the reader (not the search engine), so don’t jam-pack it with irrelevant keywords. The content needs to read like it would in a magazine or print publication.
- Don’t recycle or duplicate content with slight variations within your own site – low-quality pages can affect an entire site, even if it has a number of high-quality pages.
- Do some internal quality control before publishing anything online – check for spelling and grammatical errors, make sure the text is insightful and interesting, and ask yourself – Do you find the information to be complete and trustworthy?
- And perhaps my favourite, direct from Amit’s post: Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
If you feel that you have been unfairly affected by the Google Panda/Farmer update, you can visit and post in the thread that has been opened in the Google Webmaster forum.
A brief word from us: If your site’s rankings have dropped – it might be time to re-assess your website content and give your website some more attention. Feel free to give us a call in the office on 1300 723 618 if you’d like to discuss some potential strategies.