What Do Farming, Hashtags, Pandas and Content All Have in Common

Panda is just one of the algorithms used by Google to rank web content in its search results, however it’s been gaining headlines because it’s the algorithm that has had the biggest impact on search engine ranking (and often not for the good of companies).

Panda in simple terms, lowers the ranking of those websites that have low quality content.

In its first launch, it made a huge impact to almost completely eradicate manufactured content farms that generated poor quality, keyword-rich content on search results. The algorithm updates just didn’t get it right in many cases, and good sites — authoritative sites on all other levels — seemed to really suffer. It was a mistake. In their effort to be vigilant on spam.

PANDA AT PLAY

Google have launched a number of updates — 27 in total — to Panda and the latest one in 2014 has created some more waves in the SEO pool. Google’s Panda 4.0 update designed to punish low-quality content has penalised the good along with the bad. eBay have been spouted as one of the biggest losers and have reportedly lost out on a tremendous amount of traffic, almost 80%, from Google as a direct result of Panda.

THE WORD ON AUTHORITY

Any SEO expert will say the order in which you rank all boils down to authority (and authorship). In order to become a more semantic search engine, Google needs to be able to identify the authority of individuals within their respective topic areas across the web. But what defines authority in the eyes of a search engine? The main items Google currently uses to determine authority are the content people create on their websites and their Google+ activity. It’s the quantity, and more importantly, the quality of those items that contribute to the authority, and therefore ranking.

Since the emergence of content copyright, duplication, guest blogging, lack of backlinks (and a lack of understanding by many website users) and the way in which we promote content on our website ll have an effect on rankings. However with so many people sharing similar content and quotes, it’s difficult for a search engine to determine the original source of content.

It’s often impossible to determine the original “true” author. Panda has started to understand the pitfalls of this and that authorship alone cannot be the reigning factor for authority if true authorship cannot be determined.

ENTER PANDA 4.0

It appears that version 4.0 of Panda may have finally started to crack this code as to what makes true authority. It appears that the search engine experts are saying that the latest Panda update seems to be a better focus on authority and is well on the way to making a mark on Google’s Head of the Webspam team, Matt Cutts, in order for websites to avoid the negative consequences is to focus on creating strong content.

Writing content that focuses on informing visitors, rather than trying to achieve search rank by using uninformative content filled with keywords, will likely generate higher search engine results. Using SEO tactics like, keyword-rich URLs, cultivating inbound links, etc, are still likely to help a companies boost their rankings. The difference, now will be that Panda is programmed to decipher between natural and ‘placed’ key words designed solely for the purpose of improving company rankings.

Google’s Head of the Webspam team, Matt Cutts puts it simply: In order for websites to avoid the negative consequences, focus on creating strong content.

Google is not the only one with this genuine content-driven approach. Facebook and YouTube have started to reduce the rankings of low-quality content.

What to watch out for in the future. As Google becomes better at rankings, Matt Curtis has said that backlinks will become less relevant. We ask the next obvious question. Is this the start of the end of the beloved hastag? Hashtag Engine Optimization (HEO) is all about finding trending hashtags, using the hashtags effectively to get a wider exposure in social media channels, and bringing heavy traffic into a website or landing page. As Google becomes better at rankings, there is no reason to say that it won’t happen the hashtag also.

HOW TO PANDA PROOF YOUR WEBSITE

There are certain metrics marketers can look for to ensure that their websites are not being negatively impacted by Panda.

In a blog post, Google poses a series of questions marketers should ask themselves to determine whether their content is Panda-proofed in their blog post.

QUESTIONS THAT THEY SAY TO ASK YOURSELF INCLUDE:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Would you recognise this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, industry publication or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
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