How To Deal With Google Panda

Guest Post by Evan Britton of ResourceWebs | Twitter: @elbst23

As we look back at what has happened in 2011 in the internet marketing world, it is clear that Google Panda is one of the biggest stories.

Many online businesses get the majority of their traffic from Google, and this Google traffic converts, so it is a lifeline for many. And with Google Panda, SEO has changed - and it has sent shock waves through online webmaster communities.

The key takeaway from Panda is that Google is favoring authority.

The biggest winners from each Panda update continue to be established brands. The losers from Panda are those that try to automate content in bulk or don't add definitive value...

If you are small - you can no longer compete with the big boys on a broad scale. If you own a shopping mall website, Amazon will outrank. If you publish sports stories, ESPN.com will out rank you. That's the reality we now face.

So, what are us entrepreneurs, webmasters, and small business owners to do?

How do we deal with Google Panda?

The first thing we must do is focus on becoming an authority. You need to know what niche you are in, focus on it, focus on it more, and define yourself.

For example, instead of being the leading travel site on the web - you maybe can focus on being the leading Northeast Corridor travel site on the web. It is this fine tuned focus on a given niche that can give you authority in a particular vertical.

Once you have defined that authority, you need to focus on your user experience. Google Panda cares about usage metrics such as time on site, average page views per visit, and repeat traffic.

So, you need to forget about SEO - and think about your users.

How can your website be better for your users? What can you do to make it so that your users recognize you as a brand and an authority in your given vertical or niche? Remember, Google Panda cares about "branded search traffic"- which is the amount of people searching for your brand in Google.

So continue to think about this - your brand is what ultimately is most important. Each of our web properties has or is undergoing a re-design so that our sites are cleaner, clearer, and more focused on precisely what our brand is all about.

It is also critical to develop a following. Take advantage of Twitter and Facebook so that you can easily keep in touch with your users. Make your social media presence engaging so that users contribute and spread the word about your brand to others.

Remember, Google Panda can't take away your social media connections, so if you take advantage of your existing traffic to build a solid social media following, this will work to diversify yourself from Google.

A social media presence also helps to boost your brand and authority - which will end up helping you in the eyes of Panda.

Of course, your core product is extremely important. If you have content on your site - less can often be more. Instead of producing 5 pieces of content per day which are just OK - produce 2 pieces of content a day which are outstanding.

Focus on adding value, thoughtful analysis, and in depth research. Focus less on automated content which will saturate your website, confuse users, and take away from the quality content that you may already have.

Lastly, don't track fluctuations day to day, week to week, or even month to month. Panda continues to come and update. The first Panda update was Feb 24th, there have been 6 updates since then with the most recent update happening on September 28th. There are going to be more updates.

Don't worry about how your improvements are effecting your search positioning. Think about the user - not about Google. Spend your efforts improving your user experience. Don't consistently test out how you rank for a given keyword on a given page of content.

Have faith that Panda will reward your hard work and focus on user experience.

Google wants quality in its results - so if you focus on quality - you are going to give yourself the best possible chance to rank well. And at the end of the day - that's all you can do!

- Guest Post by Evan Britton

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. Hard Boiled Greg says:

    I have been making a living for the past three years with niche websites that have been merely "good enough". The Panda update on October 13 severely shook things up for me and coming to the same realizations you outlined in your article has been a rude awakening.

    The irony is that the more you become a genuine authority and depend less on Google for traffic, the more Google needs your site for its search results to be relevant.

    I'm embracing the changes and am genuinely excited about my new "passion" projects.

    HBG

  2. I like your approach to Google Panda based on user experience rather than specific factors. A lot of people is worried about their SEO practices, and about what they can modify to recover from the blow, but it's that simple: think about the user. Best regards!

  3. Great post Evan!

    I've always subscribed to the "writing for people" instead of the "writing for computers" philosophy -- and I'm rewarded accordingly. Panda won't affect those with strong networks and marketing skills.

  4. Pete Morris says:

    If Panda is about bringing quality content and a great experience to Google's users, then it's only going to benefit those of us who want to provide the same thing in the long run. I think Google have made some fantastic changes this year, which should hopefully benefit people. With a long term viewpoint of their market.

    One problem I've not figured out how to overcome, is the problem of gaining a following In a market that doesn't naturally seem to have a 'crowd'. Suppose you're in a very mundane niche, promoting an item that everyone needs, but nobody is likely to be passionate about. Say you want to be an authority in refrigerators, for example! It's the kind of thing that people want information on when they are purchasing, but probably aren't going to engage socially in a 'refrigerator community' - if the key indicator of authority in Google's eyes is going to be social followers, it could make things a bit difficult in some niches.

    Trying to think creatively in order to attract a small following in one such niche that I'm in! I've noticed a new website coming up in the niche who's owner is doing spammy black-hat stuff to rank (and doing very well I might add). Will be interesting to see if engaging on a social level and building a brand will help my site maintain its ranking.

    • Hi Pete,

      I too am in a niche that doesn't inspire community/social following. It's a physical product site akin to refigerators. I've tried a few things for building a social following, but it hasn't worked. It's one of those 1-time purchases (big ticket item). Once someone buys it, they aren't going to spend more time researching it.

      Presently I've abandoned any hope of building a community and instead run like a traditional physical product affiliate site. It earns decently without taking too much time. I'm content with that.

      I place the usual sharing buttons on the site but that's about it. Instead, I focus on generating outstanding content and trust that the lack of community won't matter. My traffic doubled since Panda on this particular site so it seems so far that a community isn't necessary.

      One solution that could work to some degree, but doesn't really interest me for my project at this time, is to look more broadly. For example, refrigerators are in the food market and the kitchen reno market. You could, conceivably, jump into the food and/or kitchen reno market where there probably is interest in the social/community aspect.

      The problem with this, though, is whether spending boatloads of time in these larger markets result in more regrigerator sales? Maybe. I suspect the reno market would be better. It's one approach to consider.

  5. Google Panda did not affect anyone who was doing SEO the correct way. Luckily, Google Panda filtered out a lot of irrelevant web sites that were essentially a mish mosh of random keywords for Google to pick up. I'm happy for the changes Panda brought about and hope they continue to weed out a lot of spam sites. Thanks!

    • John Robert says:

      No there great bloggers who post unique contents that are affected too. I don't know if that's for long but it's sure a pain for them. It is so unfair on their part.

    • I'm sure that Google intended to do what you said, but in reality, there are many irrelevant web sites that still rank high. I dropped significantly in the rankings and one site that is ahead of mine has exactly 1 page with non-unique content and has a total of 21 links to it. I've noticed other authority sites in my niche and with my keyword that also dropped and are anything but spam sites. They provide great value and tons of unique content. I hope that my site will eventually come back, but we'll see. I actually saw my site return to its former place for one day a couple of weeks ago and then saw it drop back the next day.

  6. I'm really ok with the Panda. If your content is useful then you will be fine. It's the spammers and the content theft that will suffer from this. Great post!

  7. Hi Lynn

    Thanks for the advice. I jumped back about 100 spots on google over the past 2-3 weeks and hope that my good quality content additions will help me climb higher. HOw were your sites affected if at all?

    Emma

  8. I definitely noticed that my authority-intended sites improved after Panda and my smaller sites that didn't achieve any kind of authority dwindled in rankings after Panda.

    In fact, my few sites that are large and approaching authority that have plenty of unique content that is updated regularly have terrific traffic trajectories since Panda.

    Google's ongoing search engine development is, in my view, a tremendous opportunity for small local businesses. I run an offline local business and the blog is one of the biggest and most active among all my competitors in a large geographic area. This site's traffic doubled in the last 6 weeks and continues to climb. This has been a huge boon for that business. While my competitors shovel money into PPC and Yellow Pages, I spend nothing and instead write a few decent posts each week that bring in clients consistently.

    I'll end with one other point about the value of organic SEO. I was talking to a competitor/colleague lately (a friend) and they do PPC with poor conversion results (I'm talking to him because we're discussing a JV of sorts). Their site is professional in design. PPC costs them $2K per month. I see their ads all the time. They desperately want to drop the PPC (hence we're in discussions).

    My point is that top organic search listings, in my experience, result in better conversion for business websites. I have no empirical evidence; only anecdotal and my personal experience. I do very little PPC for my offline business (sometimes I'll do a promo), yet my conversion is excellent because I focused on organic SEO and rank well.

    My theory is that consumers perceive a top-ranking website in the organic listings as the best business in the industry. Perhaps they believe Google ranks the top sites based on the business' quality ... I'm not sure. I doubt they're cognizant of it, but it's an instinctive response.

    Yes, I'm dependent on Google. It's a concern and always will be. However, I'm confident that as long as I write great posts, don't do any stupid black hat stuff, I'll have no problems. It's been 2 years and Panda only helped this site.

  9. Hi Evan,
    You've made me think twice about how to approach my niche thinking I may be too broad. I am a new site so this information is vital to my moving it forward to give people information so they can make better decisions that comes from my own research.

  10. I think a lot of people want to believe that the Panda updates greatly favor "quality" content, and I use the word "quality" loosely because everyone always says their site has nothing but quality content.

    However, I can still show you tons of sites that are on top of SERPs with horrible, and in some cases barely readable, content.

    You can find people posting in forums everyday saying they are giving up on SEO. I will tell you that SEO still works. It still works the same as it always has. If you focus on two things, good on-page SEO, including a well thought out internal linking strategy, and quality backlinks from pages (not domains) with high pagerank, you will be able to rank for most keywords.

    Those two things have worked for a long time and still work today.

  11. Hi Evan,

    Thanks for the great post. I am a relatively new blogger/marketer. My sites are all content written by me. I was beginning to wonder if I was doing it right because my pages haven't ranked very well.

    It's good to hear that what I am doing should end up paying off!
    Thanks!

  12. Lynn,

    Great points. If you want to succeed it is all about writing for people and not for the machines. The Google Algorithm will only get smarter and smarter and be able to read our writings with more of a "person" in mind anyway.

    It is best to build that authority and try to really pass on quality information. Some 'tactics' might gain you quick success, but in the long run only quality will count.

  13. I hear many experts these days complaining about how Google is being unfair to their websites and blogs. I personally think that Google is the best thing ever happened to the web. Would you like to find misleading garbage information when you're looking for a solution to a problem bothering you? Of course not!

    I believe that if someone wants to survive Panda or even "Tiger", they need to provide value and promote it through legit platforms (such as social media platforms, quality blogs...etc). This way, everyone makes sure that even Google, Facebook or whatever big player can't affect their influence.

    The things to look for when evaluating your quality is to notice red flags and try to make them "white". I mean if your bounce rate is close to 100%, you sure have to act quickly before Google does.

    H David

  14. Well honestly Panda is more than just making authority sites. Its mainly about Google wiping out all affiliates and they are going to get there sooner or later.

  15. The funniest thing happened today. Although I fell back to about the 20th page of google this week (from about the 10th) my site was now ranked as a PR1 today! That's good right - since the site is only 2 months old (mind you it has some good solid content after around 5 posts every week so far)...

  16. That's exactly what Google wants us to do: focus on our users. If website owners focus more on the visitors, and what they want, then the websites themselves will become higher quality.

  17. At the dawn of the internet there was a lot of quality content. This was to the go-to place for information on a variety of topic. Unfortunately the "information" grew worse and worse and people began complaining.

    Google is trying to change all that so I look at it as a clean slate for internet marketers who want to make a better impact and more profits by offering quality.

    Hire a writer dedicated to delivering quality content, be open to new ideas and creative ways to present the content, and watch your visitors become loyal clients and fans.

  18. Hi Lynn, great articles about Googl3 Panda!

    I agreed with you. now, googl3 tend to be more selective in indexing website, imo, the point is - we should consistent, writing unique and useful content for people. Forget about SEO, pay attention for the content of your website.

  19. Google panda has introduced quality. All those sites that have poor structure and low quality contents are penalized by the Google. 2011 is the year of change in SEO.Professional webmasters have welcomed these changes.

  20. One thing I like about the Panda is that it focuses in giving relevant and quality search results. I'm sick and tired of the SERP's before dominated by low quality websites.

  21. Hi Evan, Great post on Panda. I definitely agree with you on the take that focusing on the human aspect should be put first. By this I mean both focusing as an authority in a niche for one side and focusing on the quality and value of content for your readers on the other side.

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