By consistently adding relevant content, Google has made it possible for websites which require better traffic in order to stay in business, to take advantage of the “Freshness” updates. Back in the bad ol’ days of link farms, keyword overloading and many other “black hat” SEO tricks, the number of low quality “spam” websites vastly outnumbered the legitimate ones. Good solid news sites like the Guardian Liberty Voice, were required to compete with unscrupulous cheaters in the page ranking competition. Which was patently unfair, both to the news providers and the users who were looking for relevant content, pertinent to their search terms.
Google heard the complaints of the “white hat” websites, who were not interested in keyword loading or excessive advertisements. They saw that the people who posted good, substantive, original content, quality articles and blogs on their websites — who employed perfectly targeted SEO and did their best to serve their customer’s needs — were being drowned-out by the black hats.
Google didn’t want to remain a tool for spammers or hacks, so they instituted Panda. The Panda update was created to force low-quality sites to fall off the rankings. The kind of sites which offer little of value for users, plagiarize content off of other websites or fail to add relevant content on a timely basis. By the same token, Panda allowed for higher ranking of high-quality sites, which do update with original content and information. Websites will always benefit from posting additional research, analysis, relevant reports and lots of comments and commentaries. Google recognizes the importance of high quality sites, so those sites get rewarded with higher rankings.
Getting a website back on top might take a little work. Google has also instituted a “Freshness” update to the Panda algorithm, which requires a website to be consistently adding relevant content to the mix. There are a few key issues which need to be addressed if a site wants to be back on Page One, and the first one is how relevant the content is. The use of trending keywords and written content which is relevant and consistent with the site’s general theme cannot be stressed enough. There can be nothing copy/pasted from the competition, nor should the content include thinly disguised marketing pieces. If a page is a sales letter, then it should be very clear that it is a sales letter. Quality is more important to Panda than quantity, because internet users and readers feel the same way. Keeping the banner ads and crawlers to a minimum, is also a good idea.
The right external links are important, as well. Some people feel that all their links need to reach back into their own site. That practice is probably based on the assumption that outbound links only help their readers find their competitors. However, while internal links can help a website direct readers to more in-depth pages, they are not the only thing Google will rank a site on. Linking blogs and articles to quality, authoritative external sites, seems to show that the production was completed with good research, which serves to add additional weight to the ranking.
Video and social media tie-ins can help quite a bit, too. Google understands the importance of social media for cross linking, because a piece needs to be where the readers can find it. When Panda was first introduced, there was virtually no drop in ranking for sites which regularly linked in YouTube or Metacafe. Videos mean longer stays on a page site, which Panda and Freshness take into account.
The good people at Google introduced around 550 or so improvements to its ranking criteria, just in 2013. Fortunately, the regular business person who has no time to keep track of just what is going on in just their own corner of the world, is generally never affected by them. The updates simply run in the background, making sure that high-quality sites receive the page rankings they deserve. The new Google Freshness updates mean that the addition of relevant content – and comments meet that requirement – will consistently keep a website high in the page rankings.
Business Editorial by Ben Gaul
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