In late February, 2011, Google released a substantial update to their ranking algorithm, known by many as Panda. This release was aimed at identifying low quality websites, and docking their rankings accordingly. Low quality sites are presumed to be those that have good content for search engines, but not for the user experience (think ‘content farms’). This change reportedly affected about 12% of all websites. So the question is: what can you do to your website to make sure it’s not negatively affected by Panda, or better yet, is positively affected by Panda.
First, a website should be an active part of a company’s marketing activity. This means that the site should be relevant to the company’s product or service, and actively updated as the
product / service mix changes and grows. Sites that are basically ‘marketing brochure’ sites and never changed are at risk for a ding by Google.
Next, social media is becoming a bigger factor in Google rankings. With Panda, a strong social presence can improve a website’s position. While this was true before Panda, it seems that it is more true now. At some level though, since most companies do not actively participate in social media, the quality of the website must still prevail.
Finally, look for ways to engage your clients and prospects by participating where they might be looking. If there are relevant blogs or social media groups, join in the conversation and let your voice be heard. Reply to a post or get involved in a discussion – basically participate as you would if the writers/contributors were standing with you at a networking event. Don’t go overboard and sell yourself or your products too hard. Just as this would be a turn-off in a networking situation, it’s a turn-off in a social media situation as well. Be yourself and your post will come off as knowledgeable and sincere.
Google Panda will probably continue to morph over the next several months. Keep your eyes open for discussions about how it is changing search. Adopt some of the new theories, and your website should continue to perform well.
President, Search Engine Experts