Google’s Games: Is Organic SEO Still Viable?
I just heard the worst words an SEO guy could ever hope to hear: a client told me on the phone that “organic SEO just isn’t working anymore.” He was talking, as you might have guessed from the title, about Panda.
If you’ve never heard of Panda, here’s the story. A Google software engineer named SomethingLongAndIndian Panda came up with a learning algorithm that keys off of the “user-friendliness” of a webpage. The Goog did a bunch of research into what pisses users off about websites, and turned it into a bunch of “do-nots”, taught the Panda algorithm about them, and then let Panda inform the Google main algorithm about website rankings.
The end result? If your webpage isn’t easy to use — and that means easy on the eyes, not just easy to find the “buy now” button — it won’t rank well, period. There are a few things that Panda takes a look at that aren’t on the traditional list of website SEO rules:
In other words, is your content interrupted by crap? Adwords, banners, even poorly-located navigation bars are considered ‘no-go’ by Panda. If you want an example of a website that reoptimized to Panda’s standards, go look at any article on EZineArticles.com. There’s an author pic, an unobtrusive info panel with social buttons, and that’s it until after all of the content. All of the crap that the reader might consider unimportant comes at the bottom.
It used to be that a 200 word article was adequate for SEO purposes — not anymore. Panda hates thin content. You’d better have at least 400-600 words on a webpage if you expect Panda to consider it quality enough to get a decent ranking, straight up.
Panda also knows your sister. Or rather, your webpage’s sister. While Panda gives a quality score to every page, it also gives a quality score to an entire site, and the two modify each other. So if you have one Panda-perfect page on an otherwise horrible site, you can’t expect it to rank. Quality has to be across all pages.
In the end, I told that client of mine that he had no idea what he was talking about. The truth of the matter is this: Panda isn’t a whole new set of rules — all of the old rules are still there, and they still work. We just have a few more points to take into consideration, that’s all.
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