Wed Sep, 2011 by Grant
The Search Marketing Expo is off to a great start in New York. The first SEO focused workshop we attended was all about Google Survivor Tips, with special guest speakers Alan Bleiweiss, Micah Fisher-Kirshner, and Mark Munroe.
Why do you need tips to survive Google? First you need to know about Google’s “Panda” update.
Panda is an update that Google implemented to their algorithms which determine search rankings and search engine result pages (SERPs). With the every day searcher in mind, Google started to devalue or penalize web sites that are guilty of content explosion (yes, lots of content is good, but we’re talking about an overload of content here) and sites with content that is far too thin. Google’s Panda update has also affected web sites with heavy ad usage, dedicated Q&A sites, web sites with outdated user-interface, affiliate sites, and those pesky web sites that seem to be all about everything… content farms.
Still confident your web site shouldn’t be affected? While Google says only 12% of all websites were impacted by its recent Panda update, many credible web sites have felt the wrath of these new ranking algorithms. Huge sites such as Answers.com and eHow.com saw major (and immediate) declines in traffic.
Kind of ironic they named their update after such a cute and lovable animal, considering the large real-world implications it brought. So let’s start understanding this big bad Panda.
Before the big Panda update, Google’s SERPs were defined mostly by your content, links and linking structure. Because of this, SEO’s feverishly published mass amounts of content and thought publishing an immense amount of site pages was beneficial.
After Panda (A.P.), Google now uses a site wide assessment of your entire web site (all pages). Even if you have some great pages, a few bad pages can bring down the whole site. Google is now much more concerned about user metrics and how users interact with your web site. There is no greater evidence of this than hitting the “back” button now. When you hit “back”… Google asks if you want to block the site you were just on!
It’s time to take action. Don’t think of it as “Panda-Proofing” your site, think of it as improving your user’s experience. That’s what Google wants, what your users want, and it’s what you want.
Check your user’s behaviors and actions. Take a deep dive into understanding what your users are doing. Are they reaching your home page first? What are they doing from there? Stop thinking about the path you most desperately want to take them down, and start thinking about the path THEY are going down. Make that path easy for them. If you don’t have the best content or source for something, that’s OK, don’t be afraid to link off to it! Also, while it may seem obvious, quick loading pages are essential. Fast page loading is very important to user experience.
Let’s not forget about mobile! Does your web site provide a favorable mobile experience? It is estimated that 15-20% of web traffic comes from mobile browsers, and that number is only going to grow.
Give your users a great experience. Now.
Panda is a quality assessment of your web site. Focus on creating a great user experience that starts on the search engine result pages.
Post written by Grant Heitkamp