Based on how marketers panicked when Google announced updates to its Panda algorithm, you might have thought a real, live grizzly bear had gotten loose.
Of course, panic is understandable, considering Panda’s role determining the quality of websites and ranking them accordingly. The first Panda update in February 2011 affected 12 percent of all search results.
Some news recently broke, though. Google won’t announce Panda updates. It is simply rolling the updates into its normal indexing processes.
Here are six search marketing guidelines to help you stay ahead of Panda from now on:
1. Create unique content
If Google ever becomes sentient, let’s hope that it uses its powers for good because it’s smart. Of course, it can tell when you have duplicate content published on your site. But it can also tell when you have two similar articles differentiated by keyword variations.
Stumped for content? Break from what you normally do and try newsjacking or producing video, case studies, infographics and a host of other content types.
2. Check and double check grammar
After polishing off a blog post that you put so much work into, you might have the temptation to hit the publish button without giving it a second read. Resist the urge. Google has come out and said that Panda specifically looks for spelling and factual errors and ranks pages lower for them. Taking a couple of minutes to find a few misspellings and inverted numbers could mean the difference between page 1 and oblivion.
3. Provide in-depth information
Don’t post for postings sake. Make sure the content provides value to your audience. Panda penalizes sites that provide shallow, obvious information. Sites with well-researched content that provide a 360-degree view of the information are ranked higher.
4. Keep visitors on your site
Bounce rate is a key stat for Panda. If people find your site in search results, check it and bounce out, it signals Panda that your content wasn’t satisfactory. Check out these seven ways to produce landing pages that attract and keep visitors.
5. Refresh your site
It’s not only about content. A site built off “sound architecture” will fare better when it comes to Panda than ones built off templates, Flash or are more than two years old.
Besides, Google published a blog post after Panda debuted mentioning a variety of questions to ask when looking at your website. Many had to do with user experience and trust.
For example, it asked “Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?” and “For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?” A fresh looking site will certainly maximize reader confidence.
6. Social validation
When determining rankings, Google places an emphasis on the social validation of a website. If a blog post gets a large amount of likes or tweets, it will rank better. It is an easy way for Google to see whether people like a piece of content. Would you share mediocre content with your followers?
Be sure to include social sharing buttons on your website and to share your own content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites as appropriate. If you follow these rules, you can make a single blog post last three weeks.
Image: angela n. (Creative Commons)