Much has been written about Google’s Panda Update. As an Asheville Local SEO Pro clients have been asking me if the Panda Update is all it’s cracked up to be.
Panda is reportedly THE biggest leap in search technology since being granted a patent for PageRank in 2005 effectively making Google the dominant source of internet traffic for all company websites. Michael Martinez of SEO-Theory.com uses this phrase to describe it:
Like it or not, all companies are now in the internet marketing business – no other form of marketing has as dramatic an effect on a companies sales. Nearly every one of your potential customers makes searching on the internet where they begin to make a purchasing decision, effectively making Google.com is your companies home page.
Panda As The Farmer Update
Exploiting the PageRank algorithm by reverse engineering what the algo values and giving it what it wants has led Google to make changes. Once it was discovered that adding an article to certain types of websites, sometimes called Content Farms, would generate top ranking, a loophole was discovered:
Quantity Outperformed Quality In Terms of Generating Page Views
It was discovered throwing a ton of “junk articles” up on high page rank content farms would allow a company to dominate search results. It mattered little if the article was “good” or poorly written.
Many webmasters panicked when they found their web ranking and web traffic tanked, some hastily came to the conclusion that the algorithm “thinks we are a content farm.”
So how did all of this happen?
Google and Do No Evil
It’s been a long standing policy at big G to not allow it’s paid advertisers to influence the main body of search results, often called the organic search results. Project teams are said to work independent of one another.
The web spam department headed by Matt Cutts does not take orders from the paid advertising department or Adwords. Google made billions off of content farms because those content farms served up Adsense ads from paying advertisers.
Adwords = you enter into a bidding war with your competitors to buy your way to the top of paid or sponsored links
Adsense = you publish those adwords ads or serve them on your website and big G shares a portion of it’s billions of dollars in Adwords revenue.
RSS feed Promotion and Scraper Sites
Blogs have a feature that static websites do not: RSS feeds. The ranking algorithm favors fresh content, it wants to show searchers “real time news”, a blog qualifies as a “news source” in a way that static conventional websites do not. Simply put a blog will beat a website in ranking in search results.
Some marketers discovered that by ”scraping” RSS feeds and simply republishing someone else’s article or blog post they could make a fast buck by serving up Adsense ads from a ”junk website”.
RSS feeds on eCommerce sites run into what is known as the “duplicate content penalty”. Imagine if you sold a dozen variants of a product, had a dozen different pages on your site and the only thing to differentiate each product was the color. Let’s say you sold decorative backing plates for light switches, and there were a dozen colors to choose from…. and all of those pages were published on your blog’s RSS feed. How is an algorithm going to decide if your internal pages are “newsworthy” when all it has to go by is the text (or lack thereof) on each page?
The SEO solution is to write text, craft a unique description of each “widget” you sell from your site, give the algorithm some help so it can differentiate one product from another.
Syndicating Our Content - Good or Bad
Through RSS feeds our content (articles, blog posts, etc) to be syndicated. There are 2 very good reasons we want this:
- Maximize Our Exposure much like we want to cast as wide a net as possible while fishing for new customers, much like we want to have our company found on social media sites.
- Backlinks pointing to our sites. We want to write authoritative articles about our genre that qualify as Link Bait. An article so good other websites would want to republish it