Google continually works to combat spam, and in their latest algorithm tweak, the Panda update, they have targeted sites that rely heavily on content farms and other “low quality” content. Months after it was enacted and the dust has settled, the effects of the update are clearer, and we can look at what they mean for websites and SEOs.
While sites that were egregiously spammy were rightly affected, so were other, more legitimate sites. We saw decreased rankings for Associated Content and other similar sites that tend to use duplicated or low quality content from content farms, as expected. But there were also unintended “victims” of the update. Many retailers, for instance, saw dramatic decreases, not because they stole content from other sites or bought low quality content from farms. Why then? Because they provide customers with manufacturers’ descriptions, which can be essential in purchasing decisions. They are also, of necessity, present on countless sites that sell the same products.
Adam Audette of Search Engine Watch writes, “There is too much bloodshed out there. I don’t remember a Google algorithm that has done so much damage – so much collateral damage – as the February 2011 Panda update.” But he also notes that most sites, if they look closely, will find shortcomings that have contributed to the drop in content. What should you look for? Do you have:
• Original content (although this can be copied by other sites and Google penalizes you for duplicate content).
• In-depth reports and analysis relating to your topic, industry news, and other relevant information.
• High quality back links.
A well-designed SEO campaign, however, can help boost your rankings and avoid Google penalties. High quality content is key; make it relevant and current. High quality links are important, but Google knows that you cannot suddenly generate hundreds, so concentrate on quality, not quantity.