In 2011, Google came out with an update called the Panda Algorithm. For many webmasters it was the end of an era. They struggled to get their sites back to the first page of the Google search engines. For others like me, the solution was to downgrade, a process that many deamed extreme. Today this algorithm can still affect a website and keep it from listing correctly on the search engine.
The problem that most web marketers don’t realize is that Panda doesn’t necessarily work the same way on every website.The Panda can use different signals to score different websites. So basically: there is NO one all inclusive list of things you can do to make the website list for certain keywords.
I can say this though; many sites that have been brought back from the after effects of Panda were solved simply by reducing the navigation of their pages. This isn’t an overall solution for everyone but in many cases simplifying, yet not over simplifying can work.
The one thing to keep in mind is the definition of what an algorithm looks for. And that is Patterns. Google looks for similar patterns from good websites to qualify them as either high or low quality. To make things clear, let’s look at 10 patterns the Panda Algorithm might use evaluate your website.
Ask yourself this; “Would you trust the information presented in your website?” The signals Panda would use to determine the trustworthiness of a site would include the following elements:
Viewable contact information
Standard payment methods
Easy to see and navigate content; in other words, no hidden content.
2. Well Written Content
You don’t have to be a grammar expert, but Google does want to know if you are an enthusiast or expert on the topic you are writing about. To determine this, the algorithm will look for patterns such as author name, language, ad paragraph sequencing. Check out some best grammar checking tools here.
3. Duplicate Content or Articles
The Panda also looks for duplicate content that is churned out with just slight variations or slight keyword changes. Avoid articles or content that rehashes the same thing in too similar a fashion either on your own site or based on content from other websites.
Would you be comfortable giving your credit information to your site. Google wants to make sure the readers credit information is kept safe from predators. Make sure you have SSL certification or HTTPS registration so the Panda will consider your site a safe payment site for readers.
5. Look for Factual, Styling or Spelling Errors
No need to obsess here. There are sites out there that don’t have that high a quality of content. Just think of Wikipedia or even eHow. Still Panda is good to these sites. However, you should take time to edit your content after a few months or years. Never stop editing both your new and old content.
6. Is It Interesting?
If you are basing your content solely on keyword research you are doing it wrong. Real discussions inspire questions and feedback. Focus your content on your readers and on topics of interest, not on keywords.
7. Is the Content Original?
How can an algorithm recognize that the content is orginal and different from that of other pages. It determines whether content is different based on the use of previously used phrases, nouns and links to other content. However, what most webmasters don’t realize is that the algorithm also looks at annotations for images, videos and other embedded content to determine whether the pages are duplicate or not.
8. Is There Value When Compared to Other Websites on the Search Engines
This is a subjective topic as we can’t really define what substantial value is. However, the algorithm might use the following elements to determine a page’s value compared to that of another website. The elements it analyzes are:
• Illustrations, graphics and images
• Easy flow of text
• Text is easily cited by other websites
9. Content Maintenance
The Panda algorithm may also look at the maintenance done on the site or quality control. In other words it considers the regular editing of text, adjustment of widgets and placement of images, videos and graphics.
The algorithm is looking for an unbiased approach which is why many websites use the “pro” and “con” characteristics of a product or service within the content. Not all articles or content have to take on this form as you can also use statistics, scientific data and different reliable sources.
Good Vs. Bad
This is not a cut and dry verdict. Most sites have both good and bad elements, and these will differ on different sites. A bad elemet on one page may be considered good on another
Good Signals vs. Bad Signals
Your site, any given page on your site, may have both good and bad signals. A good signal in one context may be bad in another. A bad signal in one context may be good in another. It is a mix of good and bad elements that makes the algorithm determine where your website should rank, and in many cases, the good elements will cancel the bad out.
So where does this leave you? Well it mainly you with more questions and until the gurus at Google clarify what the Panda really looks for, no SEO guru will be able to identify 100% why a site loses ranking after any of the panda updates (as in the recent 2015 update).
And until the algorithm meets certain criteria like:
• running continuously
• adding the data into the index in real time
• having a reliable method of identifying the Panda downgrades
We will all continue to be guessing in the dark. As it stands, too many of us complain of losing traffic to these updates, yet we have no real way of confirming the deductions. Every SEO practitioner, guru or expert, makes the best guess as to what’s happening, but in the end these are just professional guesses.
So far I’ve only had one beat everything else cure to a downgrade that occurs after panda update, and that is: wiping a site clean and starting over with a different design, cleaner content and the creation of an easier user experience.