If you own a website, you’ve probably heard of Google Panda, if you haven’t already suffered the effects of a Google slap. Panda changed the algorithms used by Google to rank websites. By putting more emphasis on quality and helpful content, it practically rendered traditional SEO techniques useless.
Google Panda is still one of the biggest algorithm changes Google ever made, and while some webmasters still continue to attempt manipulating their search ranking, it’s almost always short-lived. The algorithm was designed to end the era of link farms and focus on genuine web users who wanted to add value for users. And so far, it has done a pretty good job!
Clearing Out the Dirt
Google Panda worked towards removing the rubbish published online. It has a lot of definitions for what a poor quality website is. For starters, the update brought in real humans to judge some websites and make a decision on how it enhanced the user experience.
Installing human reviewers for the first time changed the game and now people have to cater to real users, rather than a few technical definitions. It’s no longer about checking lots of boxes.
Google Panda Update Updates
The ‘Google Dance’ shows Google Panda is receiving regular updates. Google Panda wasn’t the solution to fix everything. It was merely the start of Google’s plan. We have since seen lots of different updates that have closed loopholes and further strengthened the emphasis on quality content.
Google tends to have at least 30 updates every year. And here’s the best part – no one knows when they launch these updates until they are already active. The goal here is to keep publishers on their toes and always compliant.
Google Panda claimed a number of victims in its push to destroy the useless websites poisoning the search engines. Link farms and content mills suffered first. If you were spamming links or posting pointless content for the purposes of SEO, it’s likely your site was completely removed from the search engines.
Human reviewers saw lots of lower quality websites were getting through. Updates and changes were made to Panda and even more websites were hit. These were websites not necessarily linked to nefarious practices. Media websites like the Latin Post and HNGN saw significant drops in their rankings and it’s safe to assume that several agencies shut down their operations completely.
Google is and will always put the user first. We are seeing more emphasis on mobile optimization, and even though AMP is yet to pick up the pace, it’s very much likely that Google will start pushing publishers to embrace it. If you are still running your blog in 2020, here are a few tips to keep your website compliant and ensure it survives any future Panda updates.
Surviving Google Panda in 2020
Remove any poor quality pages. Question the relevance of every page on your website. If you can’t figure out a compelling reason, remove it. Don’t keep something in place just because you think the added keywords add more value. Cut things down to the bare bones and you’ll maintain your SEO ranking.
If you intend on updating these pages, you can mention the page is under construction. This is perfectly acceptable and Google won’t penalise your website for having this text on one or two of your pages. Aim to go through your pages regularly and make any changes to make the information as updated as possible.
You have lots of primary keywords. And that’s fine. But Google doesn’t want to see the same keywords stuffed on every page. It’s seen as spamming, and it doesn’t help improve your ranking. Instead of having exactly the same keywords, you can concoct some variations and use those instead. Synonyms will still influence your search engine ranking positively.
Moz defines an anchor text as the visible characters and words that hyperlinks display when linking to another document or location on the web. In an SEO capacity, having duplicate anchor texts can also be flagged as spamming in an SEO.
When hyperlinking, make it relevant and use synonyms like you would keywords. The easiest way to deal with this is to choose a different keyword variation for each anchor text. It accomplishes the same thing as before without incurring the wrath of Panda. Alternatively, link to different pages. But keep in mind you run the risk of being flagged if you’re constantly linking to exactly the same page.
Any content which you’ve spun or automatically generated is a huge problem. Not only could it be considered duplicate, it could also be poorly written. To avoid this, remove any tools which automatically generate text, especially if it’s geared towards ripping stories from news reels.
Spun content is a highly debated issue. Almost every piece of content on the internet has been spun in some way. If Google removed it all there would only be a few thousand websites remaining in the search engines. This would, obviously, create some kind of tyranny on the web, where only a few platforms provide information.
In Google’s sense, spun content only becomes a problem when it becomes too similar to another piece of text already published on the web. New content must add something new whilst being sufficiently different from something else. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from someone else, but make it original.
Remember, Google uses human reviewers now so it’s not just a matter of fooling the search engines.
Yee of Little Text
Pages with only a small amount of text on can inadvertently damage your rankings. Obviously, you’ll be fine if it’s a contact page or a product page where there’s only supposed to be a tiny piece of text. Google is not stupid, and their bots know when it’s acceptable for a page to have almost nothing on it.
However, on a conventional page, such as your homepage, they expect it to be rich in content. It should offer real value to users. Every click should reveal something new and ground-breaking if you want to elevate your site to the first page of Google.