When the Google Panda update hit, it was referred to by analysts as “one of the most significant Google updates in recent years”. The update made many old SEO practices much less effective, and changed the way that webmasters thought about content marketing. For owners of high-quality sites, the update was a boon, but for those whose web content marketing strategy relied on spun articles, bulk submissions and other automated processes, the update left them reeling, struggling to reassess their marketing strategies.

Compelling Content Matters

The Google Panda update had huge effects on SEO. The new algorithm heavily penalised sites that had a lot of duplicate content, or content that was quite clearly made for search engines. If a large proportion of your content was repetitive, stuffed full of keywords or generally low quality in Google’s eyes, then your whole site could suffer – not just the pages with the low-quality content.

So, what does this mean for your content marketing strategy? Well, having high-quality web content is more important now than ever before. The difference is that what counts as high-quality content has changed. A few years ago, if your content had a reasonable density for your chosen keywords and passed a duplicate content check, Google would consider it ‘good content’. Today, Google uses more complex metrics to determine whether your content is ‘good’ or not. By looking at the number of incoming links, the variety of anchor text, the number of social media mentions and your bounce rate, Google is able to tell whether your site is providing compelling, interesting and relevant content to visitors.

Improving Your Content for the Panda

By now, you should already know whether you need to change your SEO tactics in light of the Panda and Penguin updates. However, if you’re looking to relaunch an old website, or return to search marketing after an absence, then there are a few things that you should be aware of.

Uploading spun content or press releases, or reblogged content taken from other sources should be avoided. Stuffing your copy with keywords is also a bad idea. Instead of focusing on filling your site with a huge amount of low-quality content, focus on writing copy that real visitors will actually care about. Whether you choose to write tutorials, guides, opinion pieces or ‘click bait’ top-ten lists is entirely up to you; just make sure that your audience consists of real people, not spiders.

Encourage people to share your site on their chosen social networks, build links through guest-blogging agreements with high-quality blogs in your niche and focus on creating content that people will want to link to organically.

Recovering from search ranking penalties is possible, but it will take a long time. Start by cleaning up your act and posting quality content from now on. After that, go back and refresh your older content and work on cleaning up your link profile.

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ClickThrough is a digital marketing agency, providing search engine optimisation, pay per click management, conversion optimisation, web development and content marketing services.