The new algorithm launched by Google reportedly has affected 7.5% of English search queries. Potentially that’s quite a large proportion of sites that could be damaged by this latest roll out of Panda.
What is Panda?
Firstly for those of you who need an explanation of what Panda is let me explain. It’s simply a way that Google uses to filter out poor quality websites, or pages within a website so they don’t appear high in search results for relevant keywords. There are a number of factors that will trigger this filter to be applied;
- Not enough content ‘above the fold.’
- Thin content – not enough words on the page.
- Duplicate content – content that has already been published elsewhere.
- Poor website structure, poor navigation.
- Poor website speed
It’s all about user experience
The reality of all of these changes is to force the website owners to focus on the core ingredient of every website, and that is user experience. You need to identify who will be looking at your website; your audience, and understand what you need to deliver to exceed their expectations. If you focus on the user and not on search engines then you’ll have come a long way to adhering to the Google quality guidelines so you will not trigger the Panda filter.
With digital content being a large part of most company marketing campaigns, one job that you should regularly do is audit your websites and ensure that your content meets the demands of the users that are digesting it. A few years back Google helpfully put a checklist together for the questions you can ask to audit your own website pages. You’ll find the list on this blog here. You’ll notice the list doesn’t include any technical questions, or include any mention of keywords but purely focuses on questions that determine how trustworthy your site is. The one point I always make to clients is ‘would you be comfortable giving your credit card details with this site’ – if the answer is no, then you’ve got a problem.
Before producing any more content, (yes we are still firm believers in a content marketing strategy for your targeted audience) complete a website audit of your main sales pages:
- Take a look online at the top 3 results for your chosen keyword of one of your sales pages. (as an example if you were a florist with a sales page focusing on wedding flowers, your keyword choice might be wedding bouquets) Observe what information is shared (price / seasonal flowers, etc.), how the page is written and how many times you can count the keyword on the page.
- Now complete using your own knowledge, what you know a bride to be would want to see when they land on your page.
- Armed with this knowledge, audit your own page – it might require just a few simple tweaks or a complete re-write or design layout
- Finally, once you have finished with the rework, run through the checklist provided by Google and make sure you pass them all!
If you complete one page a week eventually you will have audited your whole website, and you’ll know you have a very solid ‘Google friendly’ foundation.