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07 Mar 2011

How To Fill the Farmer (Panda) Update Void

Google Panda Farmer Update

Busy times at the Googleplex

First we had some big news about some well known websites all being penalized by Google for being on one side or the other of paid links.  This was quickly followed by the biggest Google search result shake up in years called the Farmer Update by us SEOs but Google named it the Panda Update.  This update apparently targets content farms or sites with massive, low quality content and a whole bunch of other items.

The Farmer (Panda) Update is all about good content (more or less)

We have been expecting something like this for a while now, which is why we have been pushing and prodding our clients to concentrate on building great content on their website, as opposed to just focusing on pure link acquisition. We are sure thousands of SEOs all around the world have been discussing article marketing the last several days.  That’s because the many of them use article marketing to one degree or another for link building and other SEO needs, even though they won’t admit it (similar to paid links). After all, how do you think sites like Yahoo’s Associated Content accumulated two million articles?  And that is just one site.  The reality is we all knew those were inexpensive, easy to get articles and links and now Google has put the kibosh on most of them.

Where do you go from here?

If you have seen no change or an increase in traffic, you should keep doing what you have been doing. If you were going to be impacted in a negative way with this update you should already see that in your rankings and traffic.  If you have seen a significant drop in traffic (and rankings), we recommend looking at a holistic approach to your SEO and web marketing efforts. What do we mean by that? It means a few things. One, if you are concentrating on obtaining backlinks, you should be doing this through diverse methods based on having magnetic content that people will want to link to based its own merits. Two, take a look at your site architecture. 

As our friend Alan Bleiweiss has quietly mentioned a time or two, you can do yourself a lot of good by concentrating on on-page SEO. Three, if you are interested in traffic that has your best chance of converting, we recommend promoting your website through a variety of methods, with excellent content as the cornerstone. Here are two excellent articles with more in-depth info that doesn’t need to be repeated here: Tom Critchlow at Distilled and Ben Pfeiffer at Search Engine Roundtable.

Is this update actually an opportunity for you?

It just might be! Millions of webpages that were filling up the top rankings in Google just got penalized; some in a very big way, and we don’t see many of them coming back any time soon. To us, this leaves a bit of a void. It’s been speculated that Google has been working on this big update for more than a year, and one of the issues that concerned them was a void of “on topic-ness”:  that says opportunity to us. 

You have the opportunity to fill the gap with real, valuable content on your site.  That’s what Google wants to see.  Websites stepping up to be the authority in their specific area of expertise. In the February 28 Wall Street Journal, executives from Google was quoted as saying, “Sites with original content such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on, will move up.” It’s all about the content stupid.

So step up and fill that void. Create some fun, informative, engaging content that targets the same audience that the content farms were targeting; those seeking help in long-tail searches.  Many content farm contributors were excellent at crafting titles that were found by searchers.  The content was usually worthless, but they knew how to optimize those articles to be found online.  Now that many of them are gone, it opens the door for you to create optimized content, but instead of “cranking it out”, slow down and make it valuable to your audience.  

You know the difference and they know the difference. Create “how to” videos, or posts that answer questions you get asked most often, or even an infographic that tells a story. In fact, April Fools is coming soon in the U.S., can you think of something clever that you can produce that your audience just might share?

The convergence of search, social & content

At Vertical Measures, we have defined an 8-step content process to help grow your business online.  It includes strategy, research, content development, optimization, promotion, distribution, link building and measurement. We strongly encourage you to consider this or a similar strategy moving forward.  Don’t rely on your content being found on third party sites, instead be the place people turn for expert advice in your specific field of expertise. Whether you do this in-house or work with a firm like ours, we feel this is the best approach to building a long and steady stream of loyal customers for any business.

Would love to hear your reactions and thoughts on this.