Of Pandas and Penguins

Google s Penguin update builds on the multiple Google Panda updates tradition to improve relevance in search results. While the Panda algorithm targets low quality content, the Penguin algorithm targets low quality links. Therefore, it's important to determine which algorithm has caused a drop in your site's search traffic.

There are three ways to help you determine which update affected your site.

  1. First is the date of the traffic drop. A Panda update occurred on April 19, 2012. Penguin rolled out on April 24. Then a Panda refresh occurred on April 27.
  2. A second way is to check your URL through Google's Webmaster Tools. Website owners are often notified in advance of penalties if low quality links have been identified, and detailed link information is available for you to review.
  3. Third, a site analysis can help you identify problem areas.

Many webmasters have complained that the updates target common search engine optimization tactics. For many webmasters, SEO has become the primary focus at the expense of content quality for human visitors. And the Google Penguin update has dramatically emphasized Google's dedication to identifying and penalizing sites that attempt to manipulate search results and gain higher rankings than they deserve. PageRank is of lesser importance under the new algorithms, and SEO tactics focused on PageRank will be of lesser importance in the future.

One common observation from both updates is the fact that big business sites now dominate search results at the expense of small business sites. This is due to the fact that content quantity is highly influential in the apparent importance of a site. However, in order to assemble huge quantities of information, it is necessary to broaden the topical scope of the site. Therefore, small niche sites with tightly focused keywords can remain competitive.

Google has openly declared that inbound links from "authority" sites are highly rated in determining site quality. How do you get inbound links from authority sites within your niche" First, do a keyword search for your general topic, and note the top search results. Visit those sites and determine what types of content they link to. Develop a content strategy and start adding that type of content to your site. Then email the webmaster of the site and, at the same time, build a relationship via social media networking and linking to their site in a blog post,to invite linking. Not only will "authority" links improve search results, they can also bring thousands of human visitors directly to your website.

Google's message is clear: content is still king.

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Sangeeta Kumar

Sangeeta Kumar is the Vice President of Web Marketing for GMR Web Team, a global online marketing, strategy, development and maintenance agency. Sangeeta is a jack-of-all-trades kinda person in the world of Internet marketing, excelling in market research to come up with a strategy based on the latest trends to get a website on page 1. She knows her stuff and enjoys a good discussion on SEO anywhere, anytime.