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May 15, 2011

The Google Post Panda Debate and Fallout – A SPN Exclusive Article

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Lately, like many full-time webmasters, I have been spending a lot of my time dealing with the Panda/Farmer Update – Google’s major Algorithm Changes which they did in February with further adjustments in the months following. This update was a major “game changer” since even some very prestigious sites saw their rankings drop and the debate/fallout is still continuing as I write this material.

Figuring Out “Exactly” How Google Ranks Web Pages Has Become the “Holy Grail” of SEO.

Webmasters and marketers have been debating these “ranking factors” for over 10 years now and that discussion will continue far into the future or for as long as Google remains the dominant search engine on the planet.

Of course, I have formed my own opinions and views on this matter, mostly from the information I get from running 9 or 10 websites. But mainly I derive the majority of my beliefs from observations of some major “keyword battles” which I have been fighting for about as long as Google has existed.

In other words, I have been competing for some major keyword phrases in Google for years. I have been closely tracking and monitoring these keywords over the long haul. I have had some of those valuable keywords on the first page of Google for over 6 or 7 years – many of them in the top spot.

In the process, you do learn a few things about Google and how pages are ranked.

Most of all, you learn that there are a lot of myths out there. For example, many SEO experts insist you must update your site/pages often. But I have one site which I have barely touched in over 4 or 5 years and it still ranks in the top spot in Google for its targeted keyword phrase “Internet Marketing Tools.”

Now I have been constantly building backlinks to this site over the years, but I have not updated it or changed the content much since it was created. I have a few sites which I don’t promote with link building and they have dropped off the map in Google.

What this tells me about Google is that quality one-way links is a very important factor in how Google ranks pages. These keyworded links back to your homepage and to your interior pages are extremely important for getting top rankings.

Actually, I would bet the shop, that if you ONLY concentrated on this factor you would achieve those top spots in Google. While, of course, there is no need to ignore the other ranking factors, if you did, and concentrated most of your efforts on link building, you would still get to the first page of Google. At least that is how things were working…

Then came Panda!

The Google Panda Update threw a monkey wrench into the whole ranking game. It is more or less, the ultimate filter which can override all the other ranking factors. It finds poor quality content and filters it out or lowers its rankings in Google’s Index.

The key here is that this Panda filter doesn’t just rank your web pages, it can rank your whole site. In other words, webmasters have to worry about the over-all quality of their sites because if you have too many of what Google believes to be “poor quality pages” then your whole site could drop in their rankings.

At least this is my reading of the recent updates and changes. If you want some advice dealing with the Panda Update, here are 23 questions directly from Google which you should ask about your content’s quality.

Google’s Panda Update Advice

If Panda struck your site, then you must take a closer look at all your content and make adjustments so that Panda (Google) perceives it as all top quality material. Also, you have to look carefully at your internal linking structure and avoid excessive “keyword spamming” within your site.

For example, one of the keyword phrases I track religiously is my own name! Since I have a rather unique name “Titus Hoskins” it has been easy for me to track how Google has ranked it over the years. Google in the past had usually listed my Ezinearticles Profile in the top spot, but after Panda it now lists my main site under that keyword phrase.

I have seen this in other lucrative keyword phrases I track and having hundreds of interior keyword links pointing to a page on your domain will no longer get it to the top spot in Google. This could be one of the reasons why Ezinearticles was hit so hard by Panda. Previously, the link at the end of each article pointing to an Author’s Profile page and boosted the Profile page to the top in Google. The same was true for many article listings, but no longer.

On-page elements must be in order and factors like site load times and speed have become more important. Writing quality, style, spelling, and grammar have also taken center stage. So too has the trust factor. Can your content or site be trusted? There is also an ongoing argument about “bounce rates” and whether or not Google can even measure these? You can find an interesting discussion on this issue here:

Algorithm Update – Is Bounce Rate a Ranking Signal?

My own opinion on this is that Google can track your every click on the web and has massive amounts of data derived from your usage of their search engine (cookies-R-us), the Chrome Browser and countless programs such as Analytics, Adsense, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, etc. All this anonymous data can be compiled, analyzed and dissected to create their ranking metrics. They would be foolish not to use this data.

Videos are Winners

Of course, I haven’t survived on the web for this long without learning a few tricks. You must go where Google is going.

Like many others, I have noticed videos and pages with videos on them weren’t hit hard by the Panda Update. Ignoring for the moment that Google owns YouTube, videos have always done well in Google SERPs and Panda hasn’t changed that in any significant way.

For years now, I have been enriching my web content and pages with videos – mainly through YouTube – not only because Google owns it, but because everyone uses it. I believe videos are a good way to get traffic and help your rankings plus videos are a form of quality content around which you can build channels and an online community.

Because I believe videos play such an important role in Google’s SERPs, I have created several channels on YouTube. And, I just recently created another channel around my main site. These channels contain simple videos and are usually created from my articles.

Panda Fallout…

Webmasters must constantly adjust marketing tactics to successfully compete in the Post Panda Google. As always, you have to assess algorithm changes to see how they have affected your rankings and traffic. While many sites were untouched by Panda, the rankings of many “authority sites” dropped and the damage was greater than in past updates.

Hopefully, one major consequence of Panda will be that webmasters (myself included) will have to take a closer look at all of their content and filter out the inferior stuff as well as improve site speed, minimize ads, remove pages with little or no real content, fix broken links and make sites more user-friendly. Do all this, not just to please Google, but because having a clean, fast and easy-to-navigate site filled with unique top quality content is not such a bad idea.

More Information:

One of the best discussions which I have found on the whole Panda Debate can be found on this very helpful page from WordTracker:

Google Panda Update Survival Guide


The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author who is a full time online marketer. If you found this article helpful, why not get other valuable information by subscribing to our Bizwaremagic YouTube Channel and/or our Bizwaremagic Twitter Account. Titus Hoskins Copyright 2011.

17 Responses to “The Google Post Panda Debate and Fallout – A SPN Exclusive Article

    avatar Kendo says:

    You are way of course. Why bother trying to estimate how Google ranks pages when you should be concentrating everyone’s focus on “how to get these morons to fix it and stop being stupid”.

    Really? Does Google use spelling and grammar as a criteria, and if they do, is it according to the English grammar that most countries use, or is it American English?

    I have seen on many forums discussion about how American grammar should work, and quite frankly, it can be so wrong in every grammatical sense that those persons would never get pass a fail mark in a real English grammar class.

    Frankly I don’t consider Google to be an authority on anything web related. Sure they have a lot to say, and it’s all about justifying their manipulation of search results under the guise of “search quality” which is a worn out excuse (have been listening to that whine for a decade), when all they really want to do is squeeze maximum dollars from it.

    Very useful, interesting article, thanx for that!

    avatar Aaron at TheWarehouse says:

    I have such a love-hate relationship with Google. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around why they make it such a guessing game; moreover, and at this point, I can’t even count the amount of times that I’ve stumbled, back-asswards, into doing the ‘right things.’ And, the amount of times I’ve edited, revised, tweaked and re-worked my sites to ensure that I’m doing the ‘right things’ only to get penalized.

    There’s certainly rhyme and reason to what they are clear about when it comes to smart SEO; however, it is the ambiguities inherent to the details – the lack of certain definitions as to what constitutes what – that strikes me, and can only strike me, as purposeful. Ultimately, one can only guess at their motives as concerns these ambiguities; but, it is hard to not see advertising revenue as a motivator for Google to remain silent about how – exactly – to comply with their own edits, revisions, tweaks and re-works.

    If Google’s FUNDAMENTAL motivator were the best, most relevant search results, then they would be just as anal about communicating EXACTLY how to go about it as they are with everything else. I’m tired of the “write good content/have a navigable site/don’t steal/etc.” mantra: these things are so obvious as to go without saying.

    Love ya Google, but you’ve got some glaring character flaws.

    avatar Affiliate Marketing Mom says:

    Great post and confirms what I have been thinking – so back to link building I go! Thanks! =)

    Some good advice in the article. Some very good rebuttal also. To be honest a lot of people who are trying to do the right things do not sit and rack their brain trying to be dishonest. I worked in the industry when I was very young. Everyday our staff was told to be honest, if you do this or that you are a liar, or you can’t do or even think or say certain things because the company will look bad. All the while we were under the gun to make them more money…At All Costs. What I am saying is most of us ARE honest and busy with our daily tasks of earning a decent living. So is it really the taskmaster who has the problem of honesty because of the big secret?

    avatar Paul says:

    Fantastic article. As always sitepronews – postes the best articles! The most informative.
    I think the last goole algorithm update – is more PRO FRIENDLY. Meaning you have to “water” and “feed” your site every day to harvest good ranking.

    avatar Cms Buffet says:

    I think the truth is somewhere between the article and Kendo’s comment.

    avatar Jeff Ellis says:

    Great article with excellent insight. Please give us more of your insight on Panda as you continue to learn. Thanks for writing this.

    avatar Ros says:

    Google’s changing now as fast as cell phone models! It seems that we will all have to spend more and more time watching how our rankings change and finding out why. I think Google need to watch out before we all swap to social networks for all our marketing!

    avatar Site Audit says:

    Titus, great article. With regards to “a closer look at all of their content”, may I suggest the Rank Ace Site Audit, which includes a full HTML Validator, Link Health (incl. Redirects), and Meta Tag extractor. Super fast, very inexpensive. Pictures are at http://www.RankAce.com/AuditSite.aspx

    avatar Dave says:

    Very useful article, so i know about Google Panda thank you

    avatar Philwebservices says:

    I’ve been thinking, you’ll get a slap from panda for having high bounce rate. What about if the content is really short, of course people won’t stay that long since its a few minute read. The only thing good thing to do to survive from panda is some really good quality content and avoiding link farm.

    avatar Muhammad Ali says:

    An excellent article that provides information on Search Engine Optimization, I have learnt a lot from this article. However, “US Business Owners” http://www.businessowners.co is a platform that provides some unique issues relating to SEO. So, as far my opinion is concern I must say that the readers should visit this platform and get more detailed information on SEO. But at the end I will also say that Titus Hoskins had done a great job while presenting Panda (Google).

    avatar dallmeier says:

    It simply amazing that google chose panda debate out of many hot topics are there this is seems to be pretty awesome thanks for such info dallmeier

    I’ve been looking at ways to help improve the rank of my site through various strategies including link building and social media. I have found your articles most helpful in this regard.
    One point that I need to look into is the bounce rate, I’ve just started running a mobile ad campaign and the bounce rate is very high, I’m worried this will have an adverse effect on my sites reputation. It seems that it is not targeted enough like Facebook and therefore you end up with this problem. The answer is to rank high in the natural listings but you need the help of a good seo strategy. So many questions!

    Nice post, I am currently writing an article on this topic. If you do not have an objection I might borrow a snippet.

    avatar SEO Bedford says:

    My website and my client’s have survived many Google algo updates, I’m not saying that their fail proof but I have always maintained a pattern of work to all of them. Unique and high quality content that is useful to each niche and links (of all sorts but mainly high quality and industry related ones).

    I do consider other ranking signals as I’m there are many others but if you stick with the basics your website will always be at the top (once it gets there) no matter how many times Google updates its algorithm.

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