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Future Google Panda Algorithm Updates Coming Soon
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
There is a lot of discussion that Panda 2.2 is currently happening or will be released this month. (We have yet to see concrete proof of this). As a result, we should be prepared to mitigate any traffic disruptions from Google.

One hint that keeps coming up re: future algorithm updates is with regards to duplicate content. Google engineer’s, such as Amit Singhal, have commented on this with regards to Panda:
"Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?"
Last week at SMX Advanced, Matt Cutts confirmed that Panda 2.2 will be looking at targeting scraper sites and re-publishers of content.  Other interesting findings have been divulged from Google:
  • Matt Cutts reversed his advice and now recommends a site almost never use nofollow on their links
  • Content to ad ratios must be adhered to
  • Google will be cracking down on over-SEO’d sites
  • social metrics (Google +1) will continue to play increasingly important roles in their ranking algorithms
We have discussed some of the factors that seemed to trigger the Google Panda update previously.  A number of these items continue to be the focus of Google's subsequent "Panda enhancements".  As a result of Panda, and with future algorithm updates expected, the key items that should be addressed include:


  1. Duplicate Content / Clear Canonical Signals – especially when it comes to content syndication. It there is significant duplicate content (either on-site or off-site) there is a need to have strong canonical signals in place. Quite honestly, Google needs help in understanding who the originator of a piece of content is.  Google's crusade against duplicate content has been an admirable one, yet is this a battle that even the mighty Google can win?  Think of all of the content that is produced on a given day?  There are an estimated 1.6 million blog posts everyday.  That is like 584 million posts a year.  A half a billion new pieces of content per year just from blog posts.  People are web-happy as there are over 60,000 new websites added to the Web everyday.  Of all of this content, duplicate content will be inevitable.  There will always be duplicate content on the Web.  The job to decipher and sift through all of this content is something that mere algorithms cannot do alone.  Duplicate content is a leading contributor to web spam and irrelevant content that currently pollutes the Web.  It will be up to site owners and web master to ensure that their content is unique with clear canonical signals for engines such as Google.  Failure to provide unique content that delivers value to its intended audience will only result in more Web pollution. 
  2. Placeholder pages / low quality content – Google continues to recommend either removing these pages or enhancing them to improve the quality of them.  This comes straight from their webmaster guidelines.  I would even go so far to suggest that nearly all sites out there have some form of placeholder pages within their site's composition.  An easy way to check is to use your analytics and look at things such as top referring pages or most popular pages.  Examine the pages that are consistently found at the bottom of this list.  Why is that?  Is it simply because they are not optimized, or is it a case that these pages simply serve no purpose to your audience?   Now is as good as time as any to revisit your content and really take a deep dive to determine if your content is a useful and beneficial or is it just a content placeholder?  If you want to be proactive with future Google algorithm updates and future variations of Panda, clean up your content.  It's not rocket science.
  3. Content to Ad Ratio – keep the user experience in mind with any pages that feature advertising (affiliate, AdSense) on them. The ads should not be dominating the composition of the page.  People create content for different types of reasons, some good and some bad.  If you think about it, Google has contributed to the whole "content is king" mentality only to find themselves struggling to determine the true value and quality of this content.  Creating content for the sake of generating Ad Revenue is something that not only advertisers have been leveraging, but bloggers, publishers, and even kids in their basements all have been producing for years.  How many makeshift directories have you come across that are flogged with AdSense or affiliate advertising.  The bottom line is that site owners can still incorporate advertising with their content, it is just that this advertising should not overpower or dominate the page.
  4. Fresh / Timely Content – this could be in the form of new content or adding content to existing pages. A content refresh strategy may be required. Another form of improving the quality of content on pages and to entice social engagement.  There seems to be a consensus that to do well in search you have to create content and create more content, but the fact is that content development does not just mean writing 100 articles or creating another 20, 000 pages for your site.  Enhancing your existing content can be a great way for Google to find out just how authoritative your content can be.  Adding new stats to an existing page.  Adding new product features or testimonials to a product page.  Responding to comments on a blog post, and the list goes on, you can see how easy it is to enhance content by simply adding to the pages that you have.  You do not always need to create a new page of content to perform well in search.
  5. Dealing with Directories – Google has been targeting directories for the past couple of years. Look for Google to target things like search results from directory-type sites even more in the future. Google is not a fan of “displaying search results within their search results”.
  6. Social Signals – Facebook “likes’ and shares continue to be important as are other social engagement metrics such as Twitter activity and links from social sites.  The search engines have no choice but to incorporate social factors in their ranking algorithms.  For the simple reason is that these are the environments and communities where the masses are gathering.  How many of you "login" to Google before bed each night?  How many of you check Facebook or login to Twitter before bed?  Online activity has changed and is continuing to change and search engines  such as Google realize this.  Google is no longer the only game in town.  However they still dominate Search in various markets around the world.  If you want to continue to perform well in Google post Panda, you need to factor in social activity.  Ensure that your site employs social engagement triggers that allow your site visitors to share, or tweet or link or blog about what they experienced on your site, with your brand or with your products/services.
Some say "what's old is new again", but with Google and their algorithm updates, change is the only constant.  Failure to change and adapt to the Google algorithm will only mean traffic woes for your site.  If you are reliant on Google traffic you need to play by their rules and keep on top of their updates and algorithm changes.  Is it advisable to be so reliant on traffic from Google?  The honest answer is no because as we have seen with a mere algorithm update, Google can dictate and control your online fate, that is if you let them.  There will be updates to Google Panda.  There will be future algorithm updates.  Do not expect things to remain as they have been, do not try to game Google results, because just when you think you have, Google will roll out another update.  Become an authority in your field, do not worry about individuals rankings, focus on delivering what your audience is looking for.

Additional Google Panda Resources

Coming Soon: Google Panda Update 2.2 – Search Engine Land

The Panda Enigma: An Overview of Major SEO Factors - Adam Audette, lead SEO strategist for Zappos

High Quality Web Sites – The New Google Ranking Factor – SEO Gadget

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posted by Jody @ 5:41 AM  
  • At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Nick Stamoulis said…

    My opinion is that if you have been implementing a white hat SEO strategy, you shouldn't have anything to worry about when they roll out Panda 2.2. We've long known that duplicate content is bad. I think it's great that Google continues to try and crack down on those that game the system.

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