Google post Panda and Penguin

Written on the 10 January 2013 by James Greig

How to make your website Panda and Penguin friendly

Over the past two years, Google has made some major updates to the complicated algorithms that power its search engine. Cutely named Panda and Penguin, the updates change the way Google indexes information on the web and therefore have the potential to impact your business.

Here’s the latest on the Google zoo:

The background

Google makes changes to its algorithms approximately 500 times every year. Most of these changes are barely noticeable. In February 2011, however, Google launched the first of its recent major updates, Panda. The purpose of Panda was to rid the web of low-quality content by punishing sites with stolen or duplicated content, as well as sites with high ad-to-content ratios.

Penguin was the second of the major changes and was rolled out in April 2012. The purpose of Penguin was to prevent ‘black hat’ tricks. Punishing sites that cheat search engines by keyword stuffing, cloaking, using unnatural links and content spinning.

While these deployments sent business communities into a spin, the reality is that Google has been moving toward rewarding high quality content for some time – their technology in moderating it has just become more and more sophisticated.

The good news

When you run your own small business, it can be hard to keep up with everything going on in the digital world, but the message from Google is simple: the key to creating a site that indexes well on Google is to prioritise quality content above any cheap tricks.

Don’t feed wild animals

Don’t listen to SEO ‘experts’ who advise shady moves in driving traffic to your site. These tactics are outdated, and Panda and Penguin won’t like them. Avoid:
  • Cloaking: Serving up different versions of your website.
  • Keyword stuffing: Excessive usage of keywords on your pages and posts.
  • Duplication: Repetitive content within your site or from other sites.
  • Ads above the fold: If your site includes advertisements, limit the number and frequency.

Tame them instead

So what’s the best approach?

  • Original content: The best thing you can do for your site is to keep the content fresh. Include a blog featuring the topics your community will be most interested in and be sure to update it regularly.
  • Keywords still matter: Google still combs the web for keywords. Use them on your posts and pages, but in an authentic way. They key is to keep it natural. Be sure to label all images on your site with relevant keywords too.
  • Be smart with links: Linkbacks are still an important ranking tool for Google. When linking to internal pages on your site, be sure to hyperlink the keyword, rather than hyperlinking an arbitrary phrase like “click here”.
  • PR: The more sites linking back to yours, the better. And the more powerful these sites, the better yours will rank on Google. News sites are some of the most favourably ranked on the web, so securing coverage is a great way to boost your search rankings. Consider pitching content to your old university or school too. Educational organisations are some of the best ranked out there.
  • Engagement: Google favours sites that people like. One measure of this is how much time people spend on a site, as well as how they interact with it (or click through it). Make your site easy to navigate and encourage people to click through with calls to actions and links to items of discussion – like previous blog posts, for example.
  • Social media: Creating a strong social presence will arm your business against search to some extent. Social assists with backlinks, engagement and provides a different channel for people to discover your business.

As we all rely on Google so much, it can be concerning to hear of big updates. But the reality is that these updates are good for businesses of all sizes. Keep your website fresh, authentic and valuable to users and Google will reward you for it.

Author: James Greig
About: James is the founder of Bloomtools and the software and Internet expert on the Executive Team. With a degree in Advanced Information Technology, specialising in Computer Science and Interactive Development, James founded the software development arm of Bloomtools in 2004.
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