April 14, 2011
The dreaded Panda update rolled out in the UK this Monday and naturally some sites were heavily affected, (poor Ciao.co.uk lost 94% visibility), some improved and many, have not been affected at all.
However, amongst all the hype I was amazed to see how many people were shocked, or even surprised, by the outcome. We were all expecting a big shift and naturally we can never know what the impact will actually be, however Google has been warning sites about low quality content for years. Look at Cutts’ post below from way back when in 2006.
And the official blog discussing the update.
The warning signals were all there in clear black and white, so why are so many SEOers still ignoring them?
SEO consultants (myself included) spend too much time trying to second guess Google. When ultimately, what search engines are trying to do, and have always been clear about, is to first and foremost improve user experience. “Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.” So simply, as SEO consultants, if we improve the user experience of the web, our efforts should (in theory) be rewarded in the rankings (eventually).
Investing time in creating and distributing shabby content will be, ultimately, shooting yourself in the foot. Why? Because although in the short term, optimising sites in this way is less time consuming and undeniably, has been known to achieve results; let us not forget that SEO is, and always has been, a long game.
Google is bound to continue tightening the reins and whilst we know that the principle aim of all search engines is to find sites that are valuable to users and ultimately enrich the web as a whole, it seems crazy that there are still people out there that ignore this clear message. We know that Google uses factors such as clickthroughs and social mentions to determine the authority of a site, and it probably uses countless other similar techniques alongside in a desperate attempt to separate the content rich from the content poor.
What site owners and SEO consultants alike need to remember is this: Being this kind of site is not impossible. Really, it’s not even that hard, provided of course that you invest the correct resources. Set up an onsite blog and create useful information about your industry that will prove advisory and useful to your primary readers. Creating interesting and informative infographics that will get bloggers wanting to link to you, set up competitions, invest time in your social strategy, and create a buzz around your site. Bolstering these techniques along with various other SEO tricks will give your site competitive edge and a big hug from Google long term.