You may have noticed a significant drop or rise in search rank and/or traffic in the last few days. You may have noticed nothing at all. In fact, since this internet marketing blog is geared towards small to medium businesses the odds are that you did not just lose your shirt to last week’s Panda 4.1 update. If you are among those that follow the advice laid out here (or on one of these other resources) on a daily basis then the odds favor a positive result for your website. If so, go treat yourself to something nice as a reward.
A Google employee casually announced the update to the Panda algorithm on September 25th but what happened after was not so lackadaisical. Sites all over the world that did not live up to Panda’s demand for interesting, informative, media-rich, frequently-delivered and spam-free content were delivered a brutal reminder that thin content does not fly in 2014 and beyond. Regardless of where your website landed post-Panda 4.1 (if you haven’t checked your rank and traffic this week, please do) you will want to make sure that you are ready for the next update so that you guarantee your spot above those that don’t play by Google’s rules. Let’s take a look at what you need to know moving forward.
Everything You Need to Know About Panda 4.1 and How to Keep Your Website Safe from Future Updates
1. Panda 4.1 Was Not a Refresh, New Signals Were Added
When a Google algorithm is “refreshed” it simply means that it rolled out again, sweeping the web once more for violating websites. There is less of a reverberation across the internet. However Google stated the following last week:
“We’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely” (Pierre Far, Google)
What that statement tells us is that Google has stepped up its ability to target websites that are attempting to gain rank in search while delivering content that provides little to no value to searchers. This was made evident when Google hit private blog networks only days before Panda 4.1 was announced. Webmasters need to take note – there is no getting around this demand for great content. Dump the overseas article outsourcing and online author resources that have no quality control measures in place, such as Fiverr and Elance.
2. Keep Your Business Off of Online Yellow Pages
I’ve made it no secret that I feel that online Yellow Pages are a big waste of money for local businesses. They took a 20% hit in traffic back in May 2014 when Panda 4.0 first arrived, taking the online visibility of those businesses advertising within along with them. What Panda 4.0 started was all but finished by its 4.1 cousin. SearchMetrics reported that Yellow Pages lost 79% of its SEO visibility this past week. Yellow Pages are by no means the sole loser to the algorithm update, many other directory-like sites that offer nothing in the way of original and informative content lost out as well. Pull your advertising spend with them all as soon as possible and instead invest in content creation for search engine marketing.
3. High-Quality SMB Website’s Benefit from Panda 4.1 (and Future Panda Updates)
I stated it in the introduction of this article. If you as a business have been following the persistent advice to create and deliver interesting, informative, and media-rich content (related directly to your industry) on your website in a frequent and timely manner then you fall under the category of being a high-quality SMB website. Here is a another statement from Google regarding Panda 4.1:
“This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.” (Pierre Far, Google)
Yes, that is nice. Cheesy affirmation aside it certainly is good to see that the intent to reward small and medium business owners using a website to market their offering is at the core of the Panda 4.1 update. Regardless of whether or not you saw any benefit at all from the algorithm amendment the message is as clear as day – content, content, content. And this content needs to be (say it with me) “interesting, informative, media-rich, and frequently delivered“. I am putting myself at risk for breaking Google’s duplicate-content violation law by stating that so many times, but I can’t hammer home the point enough.
The great thing about the Google Panda algorithm and all of its cheeky updates is that it leaves the fate of your website in your hands. You are by no means powerless to respond to it and you have all of the power in the world to take proactive steps to get ahead of it. You know what you need to do (please don’t make me say it…again) so start churning those creative wheels, or secure a service provider that can do it for you, and feed Panda what it needs.