Call it the Great Panda Panic. The Big four point oh. Google's Panda 4.0 is here, and many businesses are concerned about how it might affect their ranking within the search engine giant.
While there's never a simple, cut and dried answer revealing exactly what companies might do to avoid having their site traffic decrease in the face of the new algorithm tweaks, there does seem to be a general consensus from around the web about which SEO practices will thrive and rank high in search results, and which ones will end up falling by the wayside.
1. Keep It Fresh: Above all, fresh and original content will be the thing that keeps your site afloat with the Panda update. By consistently publishing high-quality and unique content, your site will be favored by the Googlebot and consequently be rewarded with an upswing in search engine rank pages (SERP). By contrast, the ones that regurgitate or copy stories from other sources will be penalized. Bearing this in mind, it's not only important that your content have fresh topics; you also need to be aware of how you word every sentence. Be aware that this also means low quality content can drag down your site.
2. Time to Modernize: Panda gravitates toward sites that have a modern feel. User-friendly clean design, good meta-tags and mobile optimization are among the things that score well. By contrast, sites that will be penalized share these things in common:
- poorly structured or cluttered
- saturation with tags in hopes of grabbing every keyword
- too many links
- posting broken links
- weak titles and overly general descriptions
If your web design is more 2004 than 2014, it's time for an update. Your new goal should be an organized, well-structured site. Your tags should only be relevant to your content. Limit the number of links and make sure they are relevant. And really take the time to select good titles and meta-descriptions.
3. Specialize: Having a specific purpose will help your site in rankings. If your content speaks about specific events and topics, the Panda will reward it. If your site is too broad and generic when it comes to topics and content, it will inevitably fall out of favor in search results. Having a specialization involves posting quality, in-depth content that relates to a single specialization. For example, an automobile site that publishes several original posts about maintenance issues encountered in Corvettes will appear to be a topical authority, thus rising in the rankings amongst people searching for Corvette-related information. On the other hand, a site that covers broad topics--automobiles and smartphones--will have a harder time competing in SERP, and may even suffer penalties under this new Google update.
4. No Cruise Control: If your webpages contain content that is automatically taken from other websites based on what you search, the Panda will be unkind. It all goes back to point number one: original content matters.
5. Get Your Visitors Involved: Visitor interaction on your site will help your site under Panda 4.0. Social media shares will have a big impact on rankings. If your visitors spread around your content on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and other sites, you will thrive. Having busy forums and comment sections will also be a sign of high user activity. User input sections also score high points.
When you add this all up, the goal of Panda 4.0 is to continue with Google's mission to eliminate low-quality content. It is designed to help honest sites and thus far it is reportedly helping small businesses gain attention.
The Panda wants to be your friend. Play by its rules and you will be rewarded.
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