Continuing Panda Updates – How to Keep Your Site From Being Unfairly or Fairly Penalized

Since continuing onward with a wave of new updates to try to reduce the presence of thin content on the search engines, Google has hit a series of road bumps as part of their experimentation process throughout the development of new search engine standards.

You’ve no doubt encountered one or two of these bumps yourself while using their search engines.

Many SEO’s and even searchers have complained about the presence of content scrapers on the first couple pages of Google search results, a lot of which were not there in the previous updates. This makes it quite odd to claim progress when searchers are seeing more of these thin content scraping sites showing up where sites like eHow and Hub Pages had previously been removed.

Filling the Vacuum Where Content Farms Once Were…

The problem Google has is that every time they remove a site from the top of their search results, they have millions of additional sites on the pages below it that most searchers are not paying any attention to.

When these less noticed sites start moving up, suddenly people realize how crummy the content that was originally on page 2 of Google really is, now that it has hit page one.

And a whole new set of problems emerge from the progress previously made!

Keeping Your Site Penalty Free – Post Panda

If you’ve been hit, and many of us have, often times unfairly, it may be confusing as to why and how it happened and who you have to blame for the problem. As Google advances their platform of white hat, ethical SEO to the search engines often removing good or even ethical websites from their results, SEO’s are often left to sit in the corner scratching their heads wondering why some clients’ rankings soar while others get buried in the sandbox.

Looking at what guys like Matt Cutts have said over the past couple of weeks, it becomes clear that a whole new set of ranking factors are being introduced to encourage websites to brand themselves in a positive, interactive way that makes them useful and visible to searchers on multiple platforms.

Google has been promoting social media from the start, and that’s exactly where a good portion of the new positive ranking factors for Panda lie.

Pre Panda Factors Versus Post Panda Factors

If you or one of your clients has been hit with a penalty, it’s important to understand the new developments in ranking factors and how they influence your site performance. Here is a brief comparison to give you an idea the direction Google is taking:

Important Pre Panda Ranking Factors:

-Total number of inbound links

-On site relevance and keyword density

-Header tags, title tags, meta tags

Important Post Panda Ranking Factors

-Quality of inbound links

-On site social and content factors (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube)

-Likes and Followers and Retweets on Twitter and Facebook

-Content quality and length (Blogs, RSS feeds etc.)

A New Age of Ranking Factors

If you’ve been paying attention to SEO for a while now, you probably already know that Google has been quietly paying attention to social media activity and content interactivity for several years now. Many SEO’s are standing around dumb founded by Google Panda, but the reality is, these recent updates are part of a long term progression that has been going on for quite some time.

It used to be that links of any type helped almost the same before the Google algorithm was advanced well enough to know the difference between forum profile spam and real users interacting and talking about your website.

Now Google knows more about web factors than they ever have, and traffic through links as well as popularity and relevance of sites through user interactions is a realistic thing to observe through automated algorithms.

The search engines are evolving to ignore the nonsense and stick to the real information searchers want to see and search engines want to rank.

Reversing the Penalties

Now that you understand why you might have been penalized since the most recent updates, here are some practical steps you can take to move your site upward in the rankings and undo the damage caused to you by these changes-

1. Audit your site for duplicate content errors that may have resulted from excessive listings of the same or similar products or services on multiple pages. Try to look at each page and insure that it has at least 200-300 words of its own unique content in addition to whatever duplicate content might be on it.

2. Engage your audience using social media and make sure to link to your Facebook and Twitter accounts right from your website. Google observes whether or not you are really interacting with your target market or if you’re just out to grab traffic from the search engines. Keeping social media presence right on your page allows the search engines and searchers to see you’re transparent, accessible and really looking to interact with customers while providing value, rather than just getting their money.

3. Assess your link building strategies while looking to reduce spam and low quality links. Google continues to improve their algorithms to reduce spam from the search engines, and old school tactics are getting less and less effective each and every day.

As someone who once spammed 2,000 forum profiles per day via a dedicated XRumer server, I can tell you there are entire industries devoted to this sort of practice. Just go on and see for yourself!

The problem is, when everyone starts spamming, Google has to remove that spam from their index or they will certainly crash and burn while the rankings become manipulative, dishonest garbage that steals page rank from unprotected sites.

Google’s Continuing Mission

Progress continues to move towards what the original goals of the search engines were – to provide high quality results using the organic intelligence of the internet. Blasting cheap links doesn’t serve anyone’s interest at all, and as of recent updates, it no longer even serves your own best interest either.

The bottom line is, if you’ve been penalized, try to figure out what you did to deserve that or what you might have unintentionally appeared to have done by the Google algorithms to deserve it. Most webmasters out there providing honest services don’t deserve to be hurt in the rankings, but it does happen.

For this reason, keep your traffic diversified and an open mind to constructive criticism in your site’s content, design and promotion strategies. This will keep your site moving forward regardless of what direction the search engines decide to move.

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20 Jun 2011