For those of you still worrying about the changes to your site’s ranking as a result of Panda and Panda 2.2, did you know that (a) Google doesn’t intend to finish rolling out Panda until the end of this year, and that (b) Panda is only one of 500 changes being rolled out this year alone?
If you’re spending too long worrying about how to address the changes demanded by Panda or Panda 2.2, then you could well have taken your eye off the ball. Rather than seeing Panda as being a set of rules, guidelines, laws or hoops which you have to jump through, adhere and implement in full, it’s best to look behind the algorithm changes, behind the cute, cuddly logos representing one of so many changes being developed, and to focus not on what changes Google are making, but why.
Asking why rather than what makes all the difference, and not just to your search rankings either. Google isn’t developing its algorithms, implementing changes and rolling out massive updates such as Panda just to keep you on your toes. Some people almost see it as a game, thinking that Google changes the goal posts in order to weed out those people not keeping up with the changes. After all, if you move the goal posts the only people left scoring are those still actively playing.
This isn’t the right way to think, even though many people, including some SEO professionals, still do. Asking why Google feels these changes are necessary, and beneficial, is a vital question that needs addressing. Of course, one of the obvious facts that people often forget is that Google is making these changes not exclusively for its benefit, or for yours, but for the end users. In other words, your potential customers.
By weeding out poor quality websites which have little to offer, are too complicated, too muddled, out of date, too confusing or too pointed towards blatant marketing to end users should be able to become confident that Google isn’t just focussing on delivering millions of results in a fraction of a second, but that the top ranking sites are those which are deemed to be of the highest quality. This is the ‘why’ then – it’s about quality. Not quantity, not tricks, not SEO scams or spamming backlinks, but sheer quality. Yes, there are still plenty of SEO tips that are worth using. It’s vital that you do still use them, but ultimately they still all help feed in to this one guiding principle of quality.
But perhaps the scariest part for some people is that it isn’t going to be Google who decides what’s good quality and what’s bad quality any more. It’s no longer Google you have to impress. What Google is doing through its Panda updates is handing over control in part to your end users. Their browsing behaviour will help to provide vital information to help Google decide whether your site sinks or swims.
Google’s bots may once have been fooled by cleverly concealed keywords, duplicate content, re-written content and poor quality content designed purely to include as much subject related vocabulary as possible. But that was yesterday. Today it’s about providing quality in every content element. Computers have always been hard to fool, but real people? If you still think there’s a shortcut to the top, then it’s not Google or your end users who are being fooled…