“I know, it’s only SEO, but I like it.” – with apologies to The Rolling Stones
Much of the buzz in the SEO world of late has been about the recent updates to the Google Algorithm called “Panda.” A great many have reported their sites took a hit on the SERPs, while an equal, or perhaps greater number of others applauded the changes because it benefited them in some way. Although I haven’t yet studied it fully, my own observations tell me that most of the sites scraping content off the websites I’m responsible for have all but disappeared. Panda must have dried up their revenue stream because they’ve been very quiet for several months now.
As I read up on the details of the subject, I can’t help but think that this is a lot of history repeating itself. To be sure, Google has updated their software schemes many times since Larry and Sergey sent out their first spider with the goal to index the entire web. And, they will again. The chief aim of Google Search is to help those who use their service find what they are looking for quickly and easily. To that end, it’s important that they continue to improve the quality of those billions of search results. With Panda, it appears they’ve taken a huge leap forward in search quality.
There seems to be mounting evidence, too, that the Panda update is not merely a one-time thing. Barry Schwartz has been keeping a close eye on all things Panda and reported there have been five updates in the series so far. It would appear the latter few are merely adjustments to the overall effort, but they are changes Google watchers need to be aware of. Barry also reported over on Search Engine Roundtable that Panda appears to be a “rolling update.” If this is the case, we’ll be seeing some more changes before long including the international roll out of this past week.
For us in the SEO business, this means we need to keep watch, alter our methods and adopt new best practices as they are discovered. After all, our aim is the same as Google’s. Rand Fishkin summed this up quite nicely during the recent MozCon:
“People have a need… WE (SEOs) help them find what they need.”
It pays for us to keep abreast of the changing ways of Google (and Bing, too) and make sure we know how to help people who are looking for what we have to find our sites. We can wring our hands and shake our fists and blame the overarching power of The Big G; and, that will get us nowhere fast. In the end it’s up to us to help our companies, our clients, be found in whatever situation they may find themselves in algorithm-wise. Stay informed and stay alive – stay informed and stay findable.
One of the best pieces I’ve read along these lines was Joe Hall’s brilliant “How I Became A Postmodern SEO” which recently appeared in the Raven Blog. He points out quite rightly that there are many methods and pieces to the SEO puzzle. Our job as SEO professionals is to be not just a “one-trick pony,” but to understand how different methods and best practices work together to help people find our sites. Great content, consistent keyword placement in tags and on page, link building, reducing page speed – all of these things and many others are included in the SEO’s toolbox.
In the current post-Panda era, we SEOs also need to take into consideration the user interface and whether it and the content has a “wow” factor. We also need to watch site metrics such as bounce rates and browse rates. As Fishkin described in a recent “Whiteboard Friday” video, SEOs now need to be “Web Strategists.” It’s like we all got a promotion and, perhaps, didn’t realize it. In the end, though, it’s up to us to find the right combination of on- and off-page factors which will help the sites we’re responsible for rise to the top. For some more information straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, Google has offered their own advice regarding site quality and what they are looking for these days.
Are you up to the challenge? If you’re a regular reader of Marketing Pilgrim I suspect you are. Don’t let naysayers and whiners overshadow you and keep you from finding out how to do what you do as best you can. Stay positive, stay confident, and most importantly, stay informed.
SEO is not dead, it’s not even sick. It’s just growing and changing like everything else in life.
About the author:
I’m a Marketing Technologist and have been working in web marketing for almost 15 years. My first experience was as a free-lancer doing web sites for local businesses such as car dealerships and an art gallery. Later, I ran an online rental property referral web site aimed at assisting military people find homes before they moved.
I currently work as Webmaster for Wilsonart International where I am involved in everything from social media to server administration to web development.