Recently the SEO world became aware of Google’s latest algorithmic change, this was nicknamed the ‘Panda’ update after the engineer who developed it, Navneet Panda. The update was intended to reduce rankings for low-quality content sites and sites that simply stole content from good quality sites, generally these sites are known as content farms, and so the update may be referred to as the ‘farmer’ update.
The first roll out of this update was US-only so we began to monitor reports from SEOs in America on how the update had affected their sites and in what way. The results looked fairly positive, content websites of low quality saw their online presence almost wiped off the search engine listings but strong, high quality content websites saw an increase in rank. These websites drive links to other sites so this change would affect the quality of those links and in turn the ranking of other websites.
On the 21st of this month Google announced the UK roll out of the Panda update, the effects weren’t instant but after a couple of days there were reports of websites dropping in rankings and losing traffic.
After some early reports it seems like the kind of content websites that were targeted were not just full of low quality content, but also jam packed with Ads. On the contrary, similar content sites which offer good user generated content and minimal ads faired well from the update. This is leading the industry to believe that the algorithm is based on a few key metrics:
- A well laid out site with adverts and adsense below the fold
- Bounce rate: where untrustworthy sites have high bounce rates and two similar sites have differing rates, making one less valuable.
- Click through rates
- Time on page
However some experts believe that you might be able to sidestep this update by ‘designing’ your way out so we could see some of the larger directories restructuring pages to try and reduce bounce rates and place Ads below the fold. However, if these sites continue to offer low quality content they will most likely continue to feel the wrath of Google’s Panda.
But what does it all mean?
Well if your website has dropped a few positions and you think it may be down to the update, it could be time to asses you methods of link building and perhaps look at some other options. Websites who relied on rankings and have dropped off may consider PPC so the cost for this could increase as competition grows.
It is still early days so we’ll keep an eye on the situation and have some updates in the near future, watch this space!