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It has been over a month since the most recent Panda update (2.5) hit the web. How has your website fared?

Before we start let’s take a step back and remind ourselves the purpose of Panda.

Panda is Google’s most recent algorithm update; its goal is to reduce duplicate content and promote useful content on the web. In essence, Google is using it to help promote high-quality websites (read Google Webmaster’s post What counts as a high-quality site)

In theory if your website has purposeful, quality content then you need not worry about Panda changes.

How were our clients affected by Panda?

As with most of the other Panda updates, the majority of our clients were not negatively affected by the most recent Panda update once all the dust settled. We saw initial changes (both up and down) when the algorithm first hit but as sites across the web shuffled and settled into new ranking positions, our clients’ websites came out with stronger rankings than before.

We take this as a sign that we are doing something right. Each time Google updates their algorithm our clients win.

Here are some of our comments on the Panda updates. In part, they are based on Search Engine Journal’s recent article titled, “Quit Blaming Your Suck on Panda”.

Tip #1 – Write unique product descriptions that set you apart

SEJ mentions a furniture website that complained about drops in rankings and explains why they were penalized by Panda updates:

“They, like all of their competitors, simply took the stock product description from wherever they drop ship and threw it up on their website. There is nothing to set them apart from their competitors. It is not only a classic Panda problem, but it’s a bigger business model problem. Where’s the value add? What makes this site unique so that it should stand out above all the others with the same content?

We always encourage our clients to write unique content; we also encourage them to go one step further and add value.

Don’t just rewrite content but provide more useful content than your competitors. If your website and Amazon have content that says virtually the same thing – who’s website do you think a visitor will choose? Most likely the big brand that they recognize – Amazon.

Just like all other business decisions, each part of your SEO should be able to clearly answer, “How does this action help differentiate our business?”

Tip #2 – Focus on making your website more useful

Rather than chasing rankings, trying to understand algorithms and preparing for the next search engine updates, direct all your effort and attention at simply making your website more useful for your visitors.

SEJ summarizes this idea well:

“Good SEOs get hit by ranking algorithms. Great SEOs watch their traffic increase. Chasing an algorithm will always lead to bad results. The difference is that good SEOs chase algorithms while great SEOs focus on the underlying theme of every algorithm change: Usefulness.”

We all know that the entire purpose of algorithms is for search engines to return more useful results for each query. Why not focus on making your pages more useful?

That way, when algorithms change in the future, you know you will be well equipped.

Tip #3 – Be the website that wins when search engines launch algorithm updates

Remember that there is always two sides to a coin. When one website drops in rankings, another website moves up in rankings!

Even better, when a poor quality site drops several positions, several websites get to move up!

When search engines update their algorithms and websites complain about losing rankings, there are always other websites that gain rankings. It’s just that negative stories usually get a lot more press than positive stories.

So what can you do to be the winning website?

Prepare your website with high quality, useful content so that the next time an algorithm is updated you are the website moving on up to replace the less useful sites.

Jones offers up good advice:

“Stop asking “How can I rank for [keyword]” and start asking “What would I expect to see when I search for [keyword]?”

Fulfill searchers’ expectations; give your target searchers the information they are seeking!

Tip #4 – Use Panda as a reason for change

When we read blog posts and forums about the Panda updates we find that many websites simply blame Panda about their drops in rankings. There were even polls and articles reporting on people losing their jobs because of Panda changes (websites lost rankings, online sales plummeted and workforce was no longer needed).

Many websites simply blamed Panda when their drops in rankings were in fact caused by other factors. In fact, when Google first launched Panda they stated that the change “noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries.” So less than 12% of searches are influenced by Panda, that leaves 88% of searches untouched.

If you still feel as if Panda hurt your rankings, rather than playing the blame game, getting mad at the search engines or simply giving up, use the Panda updates as a sign that your website and search engine optimization needs a new approach, a new strategy.

As Jones says in his Panda article, “Save that energy and focus it toward fixing the underlying cause.”

For more information on algorithm updates and optimizing your website please visit our Search Engine Optimization Page or contact 1st on the List Promotion:

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Carissa Krause

Carissa Krause is currently a marketing and project specialist at 1st on the List. Over the years she has worked with clients on a wide range of projects that include areas like local SEO, backlink profile review, content development, social media, and more. Whatever the project may be Carissa focuses on achieving greater efficiencies and putting plans into action.