Google’s Latest Panda Roll-Out: April 2012: The Basics

Still remember the first Google Panda roll-out a year ago? A lot has happened since its first update, the search giant is keeping digital marketers on their toes with its latest algorithm changes.

It requires a mastery of how Google’s algorithms work, keeping in mind that this is hardly static as they are constantly changing. It’s without a doubt a dynamic and ever-shifting entity. SEO strategies therefore have to be adapted accordingly on a constant basis as processes are being modified. The search giant’s objective is to encourage webmasters to create relevant, dynamic and compelling content for their readership. The war against poor-quality websites has just entered its next stage aiming to target pages appealing to search engines rather than its human readership.

It’s core aim is to target over-optimized sites, in other words hunting down black hat practices: creating low-quality content and spammy backlink profiles focusing on gaming the search giant.

The latest Panda roll-out primarily focuses on foul links and link building strategies. As we probably all know, until now Google measured a websites’s authority by in-pointing links in order to determine its relevancy inside the search listings. However, you are probably aware that the system wasn’t too difficult to trick by simply creating anchor text optimized in-pointing links to the site you wanted to rank. As a result there have been a number of rather embarrassing incidents on Google’s behalf, the most popular one being the George Bush Google bomb.

So it’s not surprising that Google is now proactively working against websites which have pursued unethical link building SEO techniques. As you can imagine affiliate marketing professionals have perceived this change as a rather serious attack at their end on link building. As the final consequences are not yet readily apparent the cause should not be under-estimated and webmasters therefore have to ensure to really think about the sites they are linking to and vice versa.

However, I think it’s crucial to highlight the issue’s impact on digital marketers. So far blog-networks have been de-indexed. In other words sites relying on blogs for rankings have disappeared from search results. This isn’t all though, Google webmaster tool subscribers have also received messages warning them of un-natural link profiles.

How to handle

There’s not really a way of predicting what changes are going to be implemented by the search giant on a monthly basis especially since Matt Cutts recently revealed a penalty for over-optimization I would like to provide you with a few techniques and practices to deal effectively with the latest Panda updates.

High Quality Content

Google’s mandate has to be addressed, therefore you have to provide your readership with superlative high-quality content. You simply can’t expect Google to drive traffic to your site if you don’t follow their rules.

Anchor Text

When optimizing anchor text ensure to only include genuine links, even-tough these do not necessarily include specific keywords in the anchor text. Ueber-optimized anchor text will simply be perceived as un-natural with its only purpose being to manipulate the search engine. What’s meant by this? Ensure to include your URL and less popular variations of your target keywords in your anchor text.

Generating Links from a Broad Spectrum of Sources

Generating a large amount of links from a single source will not be taken seriously by the search giant. As a result aim to contain links from a vast variety of sources. These could be being featured in directory listings, guest blog posts, blog comments, forum profile links, bookmarks etc.

Obtaining Low Quality Links, Yes Really

I am aware that obtaining no follow and low-quality links does very little for your natural ranking, however featuring some on your website will bring more credibility to your website. Generally speaking most websites have a high number of low-quality links anyway. Simply put, only having high-quality links is very likely to be perceived as ‘suspicious’ from Google’s perspective.

Link Building in Relation to Website Traffic

As preached so many times before SEO should be and has to be handled as a long-term venture. The industry has matured enormously over the years. Now more than ever before, emphasis is on slowly building links in relation and accordance with your website’s growth and sophistication. Fact is that link building has to be in accordance with your website’s traffic! If your website attracts 45 people on a daily basis, still you receive say 7,000 new links each month, how natural will that appear to Google?

Universal Image Search Results

Image searches are now valued more than ever before, meaning that Google is improving universal image search results. As a result ensure that image anchor texts are as detailed and descriptive as possible.

Keep your White Hats on

Attempts to manipulate search engines will always have serious consequences in the long-term. It’s just not worth taking the risk of short-cuts with such a high likelihood of being caught. Just think of all those who have recently been de-indexed from all the blog networks……

It’s no secret that the SEO sphere is going through some rather serious and significant changes. Google has made it very clear that fresh and high quality content are key to consistently high page rankings. Beating the Panda is not particularly rocket science as long as you keep in mind to focus on white hat SEO practices with high quality content and genuine link building strategies!

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About Clarissa Sajbl

Clarissa is a bilingual Strategic Marketing MA graduate with rounded experience in a number of key marketing disciplines including social media, project management, research and business development. Clarissa is Marketing Graduate at Linkdex.