Saturday, August 27, 2011

Google Panda Update and SEO: A Fresh Take

The SEO community is pushing forward in the post Panda world that clearly attributes a greater value to unique and informative content online. It had been reported earlier this month that Google has rolled out Panda (and updated versions, most recently Panda 2.3) worldwide; prior to that, the seismic algorithm update was only relevant to English search queries. Businesses that primarily market online, primarily e-commerce sites, have been struggling to regain the loss in traffic and resulting sales as a consequence of the original Panda update. A lot of SEOs continue to question what it all means, while others want to identify effective strategies that can be implemented to optimize in this post Panda world, and what strategies should be eliminated altogether.

To keep things simple, it is best to understand that Google updated their algorithm to penalize websites that lacked unique content that served the best interests of users that were searching for information. Content farms, networks of websites that existed solely to rank high in the search engine results pages in order to generate advertising revenue, were a primary target. Unfortunately, a lot of legitimate websites that were informative, or selling a good product, also suffered as a result of the adjustments that Google made. When you imagine Google’s algorithm, which currently accounts for and in a sense manages billions of web pages in their index, it is easy to see how tweaking that algorithm may hit a few websites that weren’t necessarily on their radar.

In the case of many e-commerce sites, the product descriptions that were identical to those on the manufacturer’s website are what often sounded the alarm. There were no malicious intentions on the part of these companies, and in fact, a lot of manufacturers legally prevent the distributors from altering the product descriptions. Many of these companies have been forced in to a situation where they have to decide between running the risk of violating that stipulation, or doing nothing at all and sit back while online revenue drops at an astounding rate. 

I strongly believe that Google has been and will continue to work on ways to remedy that situation, as I do not think they intended to put such websites under the wrath of Panda. Other companies and webmasters most likely will discontinue the outsourcing of their content generation, as this can often lead to reproduced or low quality copy that in the post Panda world can prevent a website from ranking well and in the worst cases fall under penalty and lose rankings altogether. Additionally, it is recommended across the board that all companies marketing online review the content on their current websites to ensure that it is in fact unique and would actually benefit the user if they were to read it. 

In my opinion, Google’s Panda update, in aggregate, is beneficial for one simple reason. It is Google’s attempt at developing an algorithm that has humanistic qualities. That is to say that they are developing a better way to rank websites based off of the uniqueness and quality of information, rewarding webmasters and online marketers that work diligently to develop sites that serve the online community for the better – not those that understand how to manipulate the algorithm for the sole purpose of high rankings, often neglecting users and undermining the search engine’s efforts to return the best results for users in need of high quality sources.

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