Did I Mention Panda?

Beaker, aka SEO, gets down and dirty with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew aka Google Panda

The world economic crisis? Oh, 2011, right, SEO, Panda, big changes.

Panda update in February, combined with the earlier algorithm shift that took place in January. Panda. Yeah, it was big.

And don’t forget the Panda tweaks throughout the remainder of 2011… (as if…)…

In 2011, good search engine optimisation was less about coded sleight-of-hand and more about engaging content and audience development than ever before.

During 2011, code became the architecture, not the algorithm. For years, websites churned-out poorly written, generic articles in the name of long-tail keyword optimisation – with great success vis-a-vis search engines, but a serious turn-off for you and I.

Now, thanks to Panda, Google’s site-wide penalty for having too much low-quality content, people are asking why anyone would put pages on a website that no one wants to read, share or link to? Indeed.

…And Now Let’s Get Things Started…

And aside from the obvious stuff that I think everybody’s heard about already like, “Don’t completely cover your webpages with advertisements because that’s bad for your Panda quality score” there’s also a lot of more subtle stuff going on her that we’re going to have to talk about and I’ll get into that but like not right now, this minute.


Google Freshness – the idea that new content may somehow be a better answer for some kinds of keywords and some kind of search queries has sort of been made a big deal of, but it may not be quite as big of a deal as some people have made it out to be.

Beaker, aka SEO, gets down and dirty with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew aka Google Panda. It's all good.There have been some big changes in the format of search results and Google, Yahoo, and Bing have all been running all kinds of different weird experiments all year long – think Dr. Bunsen Honeydew moonlighting as Google Panda, with me – and possibly you – as Beaker.

And there has been, sort of quietly, in fact – and sometimes masked by these other big updates and hidden behind them – there’s been a big expansion in the number of local results, the maps and places results in Google, Bing, Yahoo, and also in the number and in the size of the paid listings – the pay-per-click stuff – AdWords and stuff like that.

Google – Oh, So Size Does Matter?

A year into the Yahoo and Bing search alliance, I think that we can confidently say that that hasn’t done much to help either of them with their market share.

And, last week, there’s goes Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, off  to the wilderness to find himself (no irony there, then). “The time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo,” in a press release that did not delve into details. It did not have to.

So Bing n’ Bob (plenty of Hope there then) pretty much sitting at less than a third and Google is still sitting in a very dominant position.

Bob: Am I dead?
Bing: I can’t tell, you always look that way.
The Road to Utopia, 1946

Google Freshness

Google announced this – the Google Freshness algorithm – a couple months back, that it was a new change: more search results were going to involve looking for fresh content. They announced this big percentage of search results (35%) that it would affect or searches that it would affect. But that’s actually a little bit misleading, because it’s almost entirely happening on the long tail with current events and stuff like that, where you’re almost never going to be trying to target those keywords anyway.

Second, where it does matter, you’re probably not going to care that much unless you actually have fresh content that you are trying to rank for these queries, in which case you’re probably going to be OK because your content will be fresh and relevant to the topic.

Content, Engagement, Agility

Now, the way that this probably works is that Google is going to look at the thousand or so documents that they fetch for a query and they’ll use the average age of those documents to determine if that particular topic, that particular search query desires freshness in the results.

So, regardless of whether particular keywords that you’re targeting are viewed by Google as requiring fresh content, we do believe absolutely, and we’re seeing more and more indication this is becoming a stronger signal, that sites which regularly publish unique content will get a boost in ranking today, and certainly tomorrow.

We’re back, then, to content.

Some Google Algorithm LinkLuv
Google Freshness Algorithm”
Google Caffeine
The Provenance of Panda
What is Google Panda?
What is Google’s Farmer Update?
What is Google PageRank?

John Hargaden is CEO of wevolution digital, your full-service digital marketing partner focussed on growing your business online. Case Studies.