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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Panda 4.1: What Content Marketers Need to Know

    Posted by Jessica Bowers Hopson

    Should You Reevaluate Your Content In Light Of Google's Latest Algorithm Update?


    If you have noticed a significant change in your search rankings in the last two weeks, it could be related to Google’s latest algorithm change: Panda 4.1. The update, which began rolling out on September 25, has affected 3-5% of search queries worldwide to this point.

    Panda updates have always been about controlling the quality of content on websites and has punished sites with weak, duplicate or poor-quality content. Now, with Panda 4.1, thin or low-quality content gets hit even harder.

    Why Another Update?

    Google continually changes its algorithm in an attempt to better refine the Search Engine Optimization techniques, to provide users with more accurate results and to try to eliminate black hat SEO strategies, like keyword stuffing.

    As people continue to try to outsmart Google’s algorithm, they are becoming more and more clever in their attempts to manipulate search results to stand out from the competition.

    According to ProBlogger, the implementation of Panda in 2011 resulted from a series of deceptive link-building techniques designed to outsmart the search engines to achieve higher search rankings.

    More than 25 updates later, we have arrived at Panda 4.1, a algorithm still attempting to defraud link-building and reward more honest behavior. The primary purpose of the update, according to Google, is to filter out sites with poor content.

    As Google’s Pierre Far announced:

    Google Announces Panda 4.1 Update

    The Impact of Panda 4.1

    So now that is has been live for about two weeks, what impact has Panda 4.1 been making on websites and search results? The purpose of this update is to further weed out the bad content. If you haven’t noticed a decline in your organic search traffic over the last two weeks, then chances are good that Google thinks your content is acceptable. So keep doing what you’re doing, for now at least.

    If you have noticed significant declines in search traffic, or if you are worried that you might in the future, now is a good time to evaluate your site’s current content and identify opportunities to improve. Making adjustments now will help you avoid being penalized by future Panda (or other as-yet-to-be-determined) updates.

    Panda Rewards Strong Content

    Because Panda’s purpose is to eliminate thin or weak content, you need to make sure your content is of good quality and provides enough value to the reader. How do ensure your content passes the Panda test? Take a critical look at the content on your website.

    If you find it lacking, there are three improvements you can make to adjust for the latest Panda update:

    1. Create High-Quality Content

    When Panda was first released in 2011, its original purpose was to filter out websites the search engine deemed as having “poor quality” content. This can be content that is unoriginal, provides little value to the reader, receives little engagement based on Google Analytics or is full of grammatical errors.

    If your site or blog contains content that matches this description, it may be time for an overhaul. Enhance your existing blog posts by beefing up what’s already there. Edit your pages and correct any grammatical errors. Going forward, focus on posting new content that is relevant to your audience and encourages engagement with your intended audience in the form of comments and shares.

    Delivering high-quality content is a cornerstone of any good content marketing strategy anyway. So if you are employing those techniques already, you should be able to survive Panda 4.1.

    2. Avoid “Thin” Content

    Old practices for achieving high search rankings revolved around creating one page of high-quality content and hoping that was sufficient to rank well. By only having one page of good content, the rest of your site (with low-quality or “thin” content) provides little value to the user and is thus not ranked highly.

    To remedy this, eliminate existing pages on your site with thin content that offer little value to the reader or enhance lackluster content on existing pages. Creating diversity in your content or blog posts can help strengthen the quality of the content you provide on your site and help you avoid being dinged by Panda.

    3. Remove Duplicate Content

    Affiliate sites were among the hardest hit by the latest Panda update, along with lyrics sites and medical-related sites. If you rely primarily on aggregated content, syndicated content or quoted sources, your website will likely also suffer from Panda 4.1, if it hasn’t already.

    To compensate for this, remove your duplicate content. Delete these articles and focus on creating more original, higher-quality content for your readers. (See Also: Point Number 1.) In place of duplicate or syndicated content, rewrite the topic from your own point-of-view to establish your company as the expert or thought leader. Panda 4.1 is a time for small-to-medium businesses to shine. Take advantage of this opportunity to provide provocative, engaging and relevant information to the people who matter most—your customers!

    Yes, it will take time to crawl your website and evaluate all of your existing blog and page content. But the benefits of performing your own site audit will pay off. The more quickly you act to edit your website, the less likely you are to be penalized by the latest Panda 4.1 update.

    Not to mention the fact that, in the course of strengthening your content, you’ll also be strengthening your brand!

     

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    Topics: SEO