Google Panda Update Is Not As Complex As You May Think
Follow Google’s Guidelines For Sustained SEO Results
Marketers have been excessively focused on understanding the effects of the Google Panda update on their website search rankings since the first announcement in February 2011. SEO advice for Panda has been overwhelming for most marketers.
Fundamentally, the Panda update is Google’s way of doing some housecleaning. In recent years, many website owners have been building backlinks and adding content fixated on improving their rankings in Google. So, Panda was launched to reward websites with high quality content, and penalize websites with low quality content and non-organic inbound links. Google’s primary goal is to deliver users relevant search results to maintain brand loyalty and dominance in search.
In May of this year, Google provided an update reinforcing what they originally announced in February about the Panda update. Their primary emphasis was to provide guidance on what constitutes high quality content in order to take the mystery out of it for marketers interested in maintaining their organic search results. This time Google emphasized the importance of the user experience by offering a list of questions you should ask about your website (below):
It’s About The User Experience
I like the fact that Google communicates the underlying intent behind Panda and offers guidance on how to ensure your website has high quality content. I also like the fact Google wants to reward websites which offer a good experience to the visitor. This means that factors not previously considered important to SEO are now relevant including navigational layout and to some extent design. Google doesn’t explicitly say that design matters, but if the user experience is really the focus, poorly designed websites do not offer a good user experience or necessarily exude confidence in Google’s eyes.
SEO Fundamentals Still Matter
I don’t like that Google makes no mention of the continued importance of fundamental SEO best practices through implementation of well written title tags, heading tags and URL structure. These factors alone don’t make or break your organic SEO results. But, in combination with high quality content, they make a difference.
Google Engineers Open Up About Search
In the video below, Google engineers discuss how they go about making changes to their search algorithm. While they don’t disclose specific ranking signals, they open up about the processes they use to update their algorithm. Google’s search engine algorithm will always be a mystery to the average website owner. The takeaway from these summary points is to avoid being overwhelmed by the myriad of articles hyping the effects of the Panda update. Focus on delivering a good user experience through high quality content, intuitive navigation, modern design elements and by paying attention to SEO best practices described above.