Should You Be Scared of Panda 3.9?
Do you remember eHow.com? The website focused on quickly creating thin content to address nearly every search query imaginable. eHow used to dominate top search rankings, and now it rarely makes the first page. This change occurred when Google rolled out a major search update in 2011, Panda, which affected 12% of search rankings. It's a fact that Google is always improving at identifying poor content and people who want to game the system for profit.
Twitter has been buzzing this week about the latest update to the Google algorithm, which experts estimate is Panda 3.9. Google announced the update with a Tweet on Tuesday:
In the past, Google updates have caused dramatic changes in search results. Do you need to be worried about your business blog ranking taking a sharp dive?
If you've been following the rules, you'll almost certainly be just fine. Less than 1% of search results will be affected, so this isn't a major overhaul. Small businesses who take the time to deliver quality content don't need to worry about their website becoming a ghost town. Here are our tips for making sure your small business blog has the best possible chances of surviving the Panda 3.9 update and any future tweaks to the Google algorithm:
1. Make Friends With the Google Guidelines
Take the time to read, re-read and understand Google's guidelines for content quality. In short, Google recommends that content creators "make pages for people, not search engines." This means you should write content with the intention of helping your clients and leads, and view rising search rankings as an added bonus. Your page titles, content and keywords should all match. If your SEO practices are deliberately tricky or deceptive, you will probably get caught sooner or later.
2. Don't Hit Keyword Overload
The first pillar of inbound marketing is getting found. If search engines can't find your company website, neither can your future clients. Long tail keywords are an awesome tool for ranking high on search engines, but they shouldn't make up the entire body of your content. Keyword loading or keyword stuffing is defined as filling your web pages with so many keywords that humans can't even read it. This is a bad, deceptive practice that Google frowns upon. If you don't use excessive keyword density and your content reads well, you probably don't need to be too worried about Panda 3.9.
3. Don't Wear a Black Hat
Black Hat SEO is definitely something to be avoided. If your entire SEO strategy is to exploit weaknesses in the search engine algorithm by breaking the rules, make money without providing any value to your readers or generally be deceptive, you are practicing black hat SEO and Google will find you eventually. Stealing content from other websites, buying inbound links or even building websites just to generate inbound links are all black hat practices. Stealing and building fake links can get you flagged as a spammer. If your company has been practicing black hat SEO, you should be very scared of the Panda 3.9 update.
4. Stay Far from Spammers
Inbound links count more than your on-page SEO strategy when it comes to search ranking, but don't associate with spammers to build inbound links. Build links the right way, by trading guest posts in your industry and establishing your company as a reputable voice. If you make the effort to promote your content on social media, your work will get noticed over time and you'll see the inbound links coming in.
Google is always trying to think a little less like an engine and more like a search user. Small business blogs with a lot of heart will probably always be okay. If you take the time to think like a customer and produce quality content to add value to your niche, you don't need to be scared of Panda 3.9 or any future updates.