With its recently introduced Panda 4.1 search algorithm and undoubtedly with further updates in the future, Google is overcoming an historic dilemma, as a recent fourthsource.com post explains:

“In the past, the challenge that Google faced was that bigger sites often benefited the most, just because they showed a good amount of relevant signals (such as backlinks). Now Google is trying to find the right balance for assessing the different signals from both bigger and smaller sites. It is evaluating signals from large and small sites in different ways because they require different benchmarks.”

The author continues: “There are two different kinds of signals that Google’s algorithm analyses. Quantitative signals are based on the content on web pages and structure of websites. Qualitative signals are based on user behaviour (such as bounce rates and time on site).

“With quantitative signals it is Google’s mission to find sites with unique and rich content – content that provides an added value for the searcher.”

Well, Google’s mission has been consistent, but it’s now getting to the stage when its Panda algorithms are creating a much more level playing field for the widest variety of websites based on the quality of their content and user satisfaction.

A post on Search Engine Land claims that while Panda 4.1 is only estimated to affect some 3% to 5% of queries, the results in SEO terms can be dramatic and it lists a selection of winners and losers to prove it. Once again, the value of content to the web user is emphasised, for usefulness as well as quality.

“While Google will never reveal all of the details of algorithm changes, it has been made very clear to webmasters that relevance and quality will continue to be very important factors.”

While covering the aspect of rewarding quality, keepupwiththeweb.com also highlights the issue of content relevance, specifically in terms of links. Ever since Panda 1.0, it has been important to eliminate links to sites with low quality content, with thin content pages or to sites that distribute duplicate content.

With Panda 4.1, things have moved a stage further: “Linking to authoritative sites is still important but now Google is paying close attention to how relative that content is.”

Making a website Panda friendly includes weeding out a range of dodgy SEO techniques as well as some elements that might have been innocently included without realising that there could be page ranking penalties attached.  An hmtweb.com marketing blog goes through a useful list of no-nos.

For instance, the author mentions affiliate sites with top affiliate links were listed first, pushing down the actual content that users were searching for, so as make as much money as possible by getting users to click through the affiliate links. For Panda 4.1, he says that:

“Affiliate problems plus deception is a killer combination.”

And, of course, there’s more...

  • “The days of stuffing pages and metadata with target keywords are long gone.”
  • “If you are running ads heavily on your site, then you absolutely need to make sure there is clear distinction between content and ads.”
  • “If you are thinking about creating a site packed with ridiculous how-to articles, think again.”
  • “Launching aggressive pop-ups and forcing downloads is like hanging fresh bamboo in the centre of your websites and ringing the Panda dinner bell.”

Panda 4.1 punishes poor quality content

Google is doing a lot to even the score between smaller and larger websites so that the competition for page ranking is based on content that is of high quality and useful to the web researcher.

So here are a few questions to think about:

  • Is your site content created for the user, to be relevant, of high quality and engaging? Content produced just to manipulate Google rankings will not achieve SEO objectives; in fact quite the opposite!
  • Are your links targeted for relevance as well as authority?
  • Are there opportunities to share your content on social media?
  • Is it time to audit your content to ensure it is all still relevant?
  • Are you adequately monitoring your search traffic using Google Analytics?

Planning and implementing successful SEO strategies is a core activity for BBI Brandboost. Contact us on 01494 452600, by email or via the Live Chat function on our website and let us turn Panda from a growling beast to a purring creature, whether your website is large or small!