Google has noticed over the years that websites with poor quality information and massive amounts of outbound links have somehow been able to rank on the top of search results pages. In an effort to remedy this dilemma, Google has created fancy new algorithms to weed out websites that are of no use.

As Matt Cutts, Google’s head of spam, puts it: “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

Who will this effect?

Sites such as “link farms” or websites with massive amounts of inbound/outbound links that have poor quality content will obviously be effected, but what about all the other sites out there?

You might be saying to yourself “Well, all the websites I work on are great, they all have fresh and unique content for sure!” While its true that your average everyday static business site is not anything like a link farm, your website most likely has a few faux pas and is getting “panda-slapped.”

Here are some Panda Faux Pas

  • Large amounts of duplicated or copied site content, and low amounts of original copy
  • Having unrelated ads on your site, especially if they are high on the page
  • Title tags and overall page content that do not match the search queries that a page ranks well for
  • Over optimizing a site/page with the same keyword
  • High bounce rates/low visit times
  • A low percentage of returning users
  • Lack of social signals/user interaction
  • Low or no quality inbound links to a page or site (by count or %).

How do we fix this?

  • Avoid copying content from one page on your site to another. This is impossible to when it comes to navigation menus, but body content should be as original as possible
  • There is nothing wrong with having a few outbound links as long as they are coupled with some original copy that explains where the user is about to go
  • Limit the amount of advertisements on a website, or have them sit lower on the page
  • Utilize Page Specific SEO
  • Avoid overusing keywords in body copy and headings
  • Keep the design of your website modern and organize its layout with proper information and call to actions that relate to the brand/product (this fights bounce rates)
  • Implement a section of your site that will make users want to stay for awhile, and keep coming back (blog, Q&A, FAQ’s)
  • Allow the boilerplate (information on the bottom footer of the page) to change on specific pages
  • Increase the amount of inbound links on your site (blogs can also help this)
  • Use “Social Signals” (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) that allow the user to interact with your site and keep them coming back
  • Instead of using “learn more” or  “click here” link your pages to actual relevant text such as “increase your workflow” “speak with a representative” or “company history”

Oh and, why is called “Panda?”

The update was named after Navneet Panda, one of Google’s software engineers that apparently created the breakthrough that made this whole update possible.