This is a guest article by Thomas Stone. You too can be part of this great knowledge sharing community. Take a look at our guest blogging guidelines.
On February 24, Google unleashed the Panda update, marking a rise in the importance of quality, relevant content. According to the official Google blog, Panda affected 11.8% of their queries, causing chaos on the web as site owners tried to figure out why they were losing ground in search rankings and how to fix it. The change hit the blogging world especially hard, because it was formerly characterized by relentless plagiarism, piracy, and casual trademark infringement, which is exactly the behavior the Panda update penalized. This caused many changes to blogging culture, including added focuses on quality, building community, including relevant content and links, building variety in traffic and income and building more engaging content.
The Panda Update
Panda changed the algorithm by attempting to evaluate content the same way a human would. A major focus of this is quality and originality. Content scrapers, the main target of the update, routinely steal content from other sites and post it as their own, stuffing keywords and links with it to gain rankings. Now, bloggers have to carefully check their spelling and grammar and ensure that they aren’t republishing content that’s already posted elsewhere.
With the added focus on quality and originality, it can be difficult for bloggers to keep their former update schedules and still produce quality content, particularly if their blog fills a small niche. That’s where guest blogging comes in. By having others write content, they get another voice and another point of view, improving the uniqueness of their content. Writing guest blogs also opens the opportunity to engage new readers through author bio links at the beginning or end of the guest article.
Google can now determine whether content present on a website is relevant to the rest of the content on the site, as well as whether any links present actually pertain to the subject matter being discussed. Producing content that fits with a site’s overall theme and only linking to pages that will improve the reader’s experience is a major determining factor in search results ranking now.
With so many sites being downranked suddenly, many bloggers were made aware of a need to vary their traffic and income sources. Relying on one source for nearly all traffic and revenue is risky and, in a culture flooded with social networking sites, unnecessary. Sharing links, primarily over Twitter and Facebook, adds another layer of traffic referral. Plus, Google is investigating social cues for use in ranking search results, though there’s currently no concrete evidence of their effect.
One of the most important changes made to blogging culture as a result of Panda is the increased need for engagement with readers. Google looks for content that keeps users on the page, keeps them coming back and makes them want to bookmark and share. Providing quality content that helps readers solve problems or answer questions should be the foremost concern for any blog owner. Well-researched, quality articles will be ranked higher by Google.
Google’s Panda update caused chaos in the web at large and in the blogging community specifically. Many site owners saw a marked decrease in rankings and traffic, but, in the end, the update improved the quality of blogs by requiring them to focus on quality content, engaging with other blog owners and their readers and becoming more active in social networks.