October 22, 2014

Google Panda: Forcing Businesses to Create Better Content

If  you haven’t paid any attention to the news around Google Panda but use content to market your business, here’s what you need to know. Google recently changed the way it ranks websites with content in search engine results. So all the dozens of article directories (also known as content farms) are no longer ranking at the top of search results. If you’ve been using article directories to increase your ranking, you’re now wasting your time.

Essentially, Google now looks at the quality of every site that links to yours and determines its value. Of course, Google’s secret formula will never be known, but what we can glean is that it doesn’t like:

  • Sites with a lot of unrelated content
  • Sites with lots of ads
  • Sites that don’t appear to be moderated
  • Sites that are overstuffed with keywords
  • Sites that link to many others without reason

You know those sites when you visit them. And while many companies bemoaned these new rules, they’re actually really good rules, if you know how to play the game.

panda bears

Rule 1: Deliver Good Content

This should be the only rule, honestly. If you’ve been mindlessly churning out articles with little value and lots of keywords, you need to change your strategy. Instead, focus on what your customers want to know. This could be how-tos on your products, frequently asked questions, industry commentary, company news or op-ed pieces. Find out what pains your customers have, then ease them by providing useful content.

For example, you came to Small Business Trends because you were looking for information related to small businesses. You (we hope) find the content useful, and might even come back to see what other good stuff we’ve got going on. You can do the same thing we do on this blog on your own website. Be the expert in your industry and drive traffic to your site through content.

Rule 2: Keep It Fresh

Google loves new content, so don’t write one article and think you’re done. Create a strategy for putting out several articles a week and determine what you’ll write about. You might ask different people in your company to write on their areas of specialty to keep it diverse, but still relevant.

Rule 3: Invest in a Good Writer

Most CEOs don’t have the time or ability to write awesome content week after week. So don’t skimp. Hire a freelance writer or agency specializing in blogs and articles to help if you don’t have someone on your staff who can do it. Look for someone with experience in writing blog posts. You want a pro to drive traffic to your site.

Rule 4: Share Your Content

Your content’s only as good as the people who read it, and if that includes just your mother, it’s not doing its job. Set up an RSS feed from your blog; publish links to your posts on social media; share links in your company emails. Eventually people will find your content on their own, but you need to help them get there.

Look at Google Panda as a positive change that will help you rise above competitors who were doing a bad job of content marketing. If you follow the new rules, you’ll be able to effectively use content to get new customers.

22 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

22 Reactions

  1. Very timely article for us right now. We’re currently adding content to personalized-ribbons.com, and you touched on a lot of the things we are trying.

  2. Leave it to Google to make a furry, friendly animal into a search marketer’s worst nightmare!

  3. Panda has affected many bad quality sites, I think its good change from google, Now webmasters know what they got to do in order to rank high in Google…that is produce high quality content

  4. I agree that the internet is filled with low quality sites, which is a problem A lot of the low quality sites use black hat SEO because they know they will get caught sooner or later and they are just in it for the money. On the one hand I totally agree on the other there are people who follow the rules and get their website knocked out as well. This usually happens every time there is a change in algorithms. I wonder if this will cause a migration to facebook fan pages?

  5. @Ashley–It’s good for you to be aware of how it can affect you from the start.

    @Robert– :)

    @Zack– I think it’s good for the rest of us.

  6. Susan,

    How much of importance has the Google pagerank nowadays, compared how it was in the past? Do you recommend any site for checking the pagerank during a period of time? Where could I read more about Google Panda?

  7. I still believe links will always be number 1. Whether they introduce Panda or a new random animal name, it will always be the same. Links, links, links, links, links. Content is number 2 in the list but what’s great content without inbound/outbound links? Nothing.

  8. @Martin–
    Depends who you ask. I check it but don’t weigh everything on it. There are several sites that help you check Pagerank. And tons of articles on Panda: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=google+panda

    @Brad–
    As long as they’re well placed, yes, links are important.

  9. Thank you for these great reminders…

    I think that some of the SEO stuff is simpler than it is peddled, sometimes;

    1. Write good content
    2. Use great headlines with a keyword or two
    3. Link internally to relevant pages
    4. Use social media to share your content

    Finally, don’t try to trick Google; there’s a reason why they are #1!

    The Franchise King®

  10. Sure, the Panda update got to a lot of the bad sites, but a lot of good sites also got hit too. Google is always going to switch it up. Just gotta stay in the loop.

  11. We didn’t even really notice a hiccup during this change. That’s because, well, we’ve been original and creative since the beginning. My boss hired a professional writer — and I don’t think he’s regretted it.

  12. Hm, and interesting idea, to hire a professional writer.

    Do you have any tips on how to go about finding one, any ideas what rates they might charge?

  13. @Joel-
    You’re right; people do make it so complicated. Why??

    @Briana-
    Agreed. Stay on your toes.

    @Erin-
    Good to know. As a writer, we like to see our clients happy!

    @Ande-
    They’re everywhere. Try posting a job on Guru.com or Elance.com. Rates vary based on experience. But remember: cheap work is never good, and good work is never cheap!

  14. I agree with you, content is king. Google is taking upon itself to promote real talent ahead and not give any more free lunches. Thank you for the great tips!

  15. Very good article Susan – thank you. And, I’m sure you’ll agree that the scariest thing about the Google Panda update was seeing just how many businesses went ‘out of business’ over night.

    Right?

    Sure, you must have great content and hire good writers, but it’s important to realize that the Internet is really ‘not’ your business – rather, it’s just another media for you to broadcast your message and develop a relationship with your prospects and customers.

    Here’s an article that elaborates on this topic a bit further: http://www.predictableprofits.com/the-internet-is-not-your-business/

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