Google is the “Gatekeeper to the Internet” and the one in charge of making sure that search results match the user’s query. It has developed several algorithm updates to ensure the quality of content that appears in search result pages.
The two algorithm updates that most people are familiar with are Panda and Penguin. These updates are designed to keep some of the lower quality websites from appearing in search results. If a website was previously penalized by a Google update, it could redeem itself if it had improved the quality of information being presented on the site.
Why Is There a Need to Monitor Sites for Quality?
There are a few people who have figured out ways to fool Google into ranking their websites higher and bringing them more traffic in the past. The problem is that the sites getting all this traffic were low-quality sites with thin content which is very frustrating and disappointing to the user.
For the past few years, Google has been working to improve the search engine and the quality of information it collects and presents to the searcher. User experience is very important and something that weighs heavily into customer satisfaction.
Google’s mission is to deliver the most relevant information that matches the user query. How many times have you typed something into search, only to be directed to a site that has no relation to what you’re looking for? It is not that often but it does happen. The keywords and search terms have been applied to sites for better ranking that have no relation to the search term.
Sometimes it is merely an error in the description or the metadata being used on the site. Some webmasters aren’t using this correctly, therefore resulting in an error. When Google spiders crawl the site, it tries to collect and retrieve information about the site, its purpose, and other factors. The spiders can’t read certain types of data unless it is formatted correctly; alt image tags, etc.
Google has decided that there should be quality indicators to determine which sites deliver informative, engaging content, and which ones do not. The ones that do not pass Google’s strict guidelines may lose ranking and experience a drop in traffic that can affect their revenue and the ability to make sales.
The search engine’s main purpose is to deliver search results closest matching the terms used by the searcher. It also looks at user intent, sometimes asking for clarification such as “did you mean …?”
The attempt to improve the user experience and deliver a higher quality of service is admirable, including the desire to improve accuracy and relevancy, but what about the websites being penalized by these updates? Is there any hope of regaining their position, or for new websites to avoid penalties like these?
Yes, websites that incurred penalties previously can be reviewed and re-ranked with the next round of updates, and new websites can avoid some of these issues by making quality an important factor from day one.
What Can You Do to Ensure That Your Website is “Panda” Proof?
Making your site resistant to Panda penalties means providing value to searchers. Sites that have a fair amount of content, offer valuable insight on topics, answer questions, and solve problems are seen as authority sites in Google’s eyes. Each link you have from an authority site is a “vote” in your favor. The number of links, or “votes” indicates how popular a site is. The more you have the better, as long as they are relevant and related to your site topic.
Start with the Content on Your Website
Why is content so important? Because good content will keep visitors on your website longer, ensuring a better user experience and the possibility of a sale if the visitor decides to make a purchase. If your content is fresh and informative, the visitor can go from page to page on your website finding valuable information they can use. If they find what they need they are likely to come back again. This also translates to the amount of traffic your website gets and how high it ranks in the SERPs.
Your content has the ability to:
- Provide value to readers: they can learn about your company, who you are, and what you do. It can also talk about the products your company sells and why they are beneficial. For companies that get this right, the results are more conversions and increased web traffic.
- Generate more sales: when someone knows you they trust you. In order to make sales, people need to trust you and the way to make that happen is to show them information about your company and its mission to make the world a better place. If your company reduces waste or uses green production methods you should include content about your company’s attempts to reduce its carbon footprint.
- Many customers appreciate a company that is interested in the same things they are. If there is a shared interest then say something about it. This helps your audience get to know you and builds trust. Ensuring that your content will still be relevant years from now shows that you care about the information you publish and want to make a meaningful contribution to the community as a whole.
- Improve SEO value: having more high-quality content on your site will protect you from google algorithm updates and help you rank higher in search. Valuable, useful content increases your website’s visibility and increases search traffic. It’s all about the quality of content.
Update Your Old Posts
Another way to improve the quality of information on your site is to update some of your old posts. Keeping things fresh and relevant is of the utmost importance. Besides publishing new content frequently, updating old content can help it rank higher in search and bring an increase in web traffic.
Updating an old post gives it new life and can enhance its reach to a wider audience. How do you update old content? By adding new information to something on the page. It might just be adding a footnote with the date a change occurred and write something explaining the change.
You can also recycle some of your long articles into shorter blog posts and link them to the source article. Long articles can also be made into newsletters, ebooks, or guides to add more value. You can make them more relevant by changing the titles of articles that date them, meaning articles with a date in them are limited. Change the titles to something that readers can read this year, next year, and the year after and the information will still apply.
Build a Strong Social Media Profile
Another helpful strategy is to be active on social media and post relevant content from your website. When it comes to social media users, the idea is to be as helpful as possible while resisting the urge to try and sell to them. Find out what questions they are asking, what are their interests, goals, problems, or issues? Answer questions, solve problems and point out useful information.
You should have an account with each of the major social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. YouTube is also good if you make video content and point visitors to your website through a link in the description. The best way is to make videos that teach something in one way or another. A video tutorial on how to use the latest software, how to file your own taxes, or how to design your own images is a great way to offer something of value.
The content on your site needs to belong to someone to be authoritative. If you write all of your own content you should add a bio or name yourself as the author of the post. All guest posts should have a named author but the amount of content you own should outweigh the amount of contributed content on your site.
Perform a Site Audit
You should periodically check your site for any issues that may keep it from performing as well as it could. That includes load times, indexing, and site navigation. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile search and check your site listing in search. Make sure the information appearing in search results is correct and relevant to your business. Claim your business listings in Google My Business and update contact information to make sure customers can find you.
Get rid of content that doesn’t meet Google’s quality guidelines. This includes content that is less than 500 words (thin content), content that is outdated (blog posts with 2001 or similar in the title) or duplicate content (duplicate content meaning similar content on your own site). Many people mistakenly think this means duplicate content from the Internet. No, it means pages that are similar to other pages on your website. Duplicate content means that if you have 5 pages of content on the same topic Google will take the one it feels is the most relevant and ignore the rest.
Solve these issues by removing pages that are no longer relevant, update old posts to remain evergreen, and maintain high standards of quality for all content published on your websites.
Improve Site Navigation – Make Things Easy to Find
Google seeks to improve the user experience and rewards sites that are helpful for searchers. This also helps your SEO rankings as more traffic comes to your website. By improving your website navigation, or making things easy to find on your website, you make your site more appealing and valuable to visitors.
Remember, Google’s goal is to help users find the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. By making your content relevant and valuable, you ensure that the traffic coming to your website is looking for the service you provide and the accuracy of information will ensure that your site ranks well in search.