Winners and Losers of Google Panda 4.0

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Tips for small businesses to play nice with the well-meaning Panda

Whenever Google releases an algorithm update like Penguin or Panda, companies and SEO specialists hold their breath until they can figure out how the updates will improve or reduce their SEO and search rankings. The latest Panda 4.0 update that was released May 21, 2014 can provide a lot of improvement to a site’s website traffic.

While the update has affected some businesses negatively, it’s a good reminder that playing nice in the sandbox will make you a winner. Business owners and SEO’s who provide potential customers and clients with the best online experience will get and stay ahead.

What is Google Panda 4.0?

Panda 4.0 is a change and update in Google’s search results ranking algorithm. This change was termed as Google Panda when it was first introduced in February 2011. The Panda’s purpose is to improve Google Search results for the end user, or searcher, by devaluing low quality and irrelevant websites that have poor content. On the upside, the Panda promotes high quality sites with quality content.

Since its launch, Google Panda has had several updates. Unlike previous updates, Panda 4.0 is Google’s attempt to help small businesses with quality content and quality sites rank better in search results. Some small businesses were impacted by previous Panda updates.

Who benefits from this more mature Panda?

The winners of this older and wiser Panda are websites that provide helpful information to their users, with great content. Some notable winners include Buzzfeeed.com, Glassdoor.com, ShopStyle.com, MedTerms.com and YourDictionary.com. Panda likes to reward websites that provide a good and helpful user experience. Generally speaking, websites with a lot of good quality content and that are useful to searchers saw big gains in traffic.

Who lost to the sweet cuddly Bear?

EBay and Ask.com were among the top losers with the Panda update. Some speculate that eBay.com suffered because it generates low quality content to appease Google. It also used pages that are designed to funnel traffic to other pages. Websites that lost rankings are largely sites that published duplicate or syndicated content.

Small Businesses – can they survive the Panda?

Panda targeted sites with small amounts of content and that used doorway pages. Small businesses with quality content and navigation beneficial for searchers likely saw quick improvement in their engine rankings. However, small businesses that have or had websites with poor content were likely affected by Panda 4.0.

Tips for Small Businesses to play nice with Panda 4.0 and future Panda’s

•    Have quality, original content – Create your own original content. Generate content for users, not for search engines.

•    Don’t over optimize – Avoid repeating keywords unnaturally in your website content or blog posts. Focus on quality content and the reader.

•    Be strategic with ads – Limit ads to a small amount that match your visitors search queries. This will not help you rank better in search results, but also give your visitors an optimal experience.

•    Make your site easy to use – Make it sure your site has easy navigation, loads quickly and doesn’t have errors and broken links.

•    Have a functional, well-designed website – A site that is easy and pleasant to navigate, creates a better user experience.

•    Regularly publish blog posts – Like newspapers used to deliver fresh news, your site should continue to produce new content that your industry and clients want to read.

•    Engage with people on social sites – Act like a panda and play nice.

In short, Panda 4.0 gives credit to genuinely useful sites and penalizes sites generating content for the sake of pacifying Google. Doing the above will keep customers, searchers and Google happy no matter how many updated versions of the Panda appear.

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Chris co-founded DoubleDome Digital Marketing, merging his business degree and technical consulting experience with his fondness for all things Internet. Focused on sales & marketing, Chris has led DoubleDome to 20 straight years of profitability. He leads the marketing and sales groups.
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