August 12, 2011
Google Panda Update: SEO Just Got Bigger
Google’s recent rolling algorithm update,“Panda,” was aimed at improving the quality of search results, and due to the extent of the update, it captured a great deal of attention all over the world.
These changes caused many businesses to panic throughout the online world, as many companies saw a sudden drop in their search engine rankings, and were unsure why.
Why another update?
According to Google, this update was released to take another step towards giving people the most relevant results to their search queries, and was aimed at those websites and pages which have shallow and narrow content.
Google has been transparent in their efforts to improve their search engine, through rolling out continuous revisions and improvements to their algorithms, and the latest revisions saw emphasis being placed on the relevancy and quality of content. With the latest update to Google’s algorithm, the content appearing within organic results is more relevant to the subject being searched.
It goes back to the question of whether the search results best reflect the given search parameters. This means that Google has to separate the chaff from the grain, and if a website does not have anything to contribute, it is discarded.
How was this update developed?
Google’s algorithm change was a lengthy process. Data was extracted from Google searches, click-through rates, Chrome and Android use, and from Google toolbar usage. Survey results from critics and ordinary users were also used to develop the update.
Google Panda was a long term machine learning project which aimed at looking at the data, making it understandable, and then mining it for clues on what users wanted. Using machine learning techniques meant that the algorithm could continue to evolve and address the fundamental question of search: did the search results cater to the user’s needs?
A range of questions pertaining to web content and how valuable the content was were put forward to critics and, in turn, used to build and develop Google Panda. These questions included;
- Was the site informative, unbiased, and was it authoritative?
- Whether they would recommend the site to others?
- Were the articles well-written, readable and understandable?
- Would they trust the site for medical information?
- Would they be willing to give personal information and credit card data to this site?
- Did they enjoy the site or have any complaints about the site
- Did the site add any value-added proposition?
- Did they read any other pages on the site?
- And if they would go back to this web page?
Since the announcement of Google Panda, there has been a continuous rollout of small updates, with the latest updated; Panda 2.3.
So, how do websites meet Google Panda guidelines?
What it all boils down to is that Google can and will be more aggressive in changing search result rankings, which, as previously mentioned, adds more value for their users when using the search engine.
In order for websites to rank highly in Google, they need to present a unique value added proposition to the user, and have well-written content which is informative and entertaining. Thus, the overall usability of a website, user behaviour and quality content are now key factors for SEO.