In recent months, Google has made a number of large changes to its search engine ranking algorithm followed by a number of smaller tweaks aimed at providing users with more relevant search results.
This update has caused quite a stir in the search engine optimisation world with many website owners reporting large fluctuations in their search engine rankings and therefore traffic. Naturally, this has led to much speculation about what Google now deems worthy of high ranking positions and what should be avoided to stay on the right side of Google.
Initially released in February 2011, Google Panda was released to target websites known as ‘Content Farms’ or ‘Scraper sites’. Typically these websites provide little or no benefit to the visitor and their main purpose is as a vehicle for advertising. On the whole, the motive for this update was applauded as it would rid search engine results pages of low value websites, giving more visibility to genuine websites. Although considered a success, there were legitimate websites that suffered as a result of this ranking change and whom suffered large drops in traffic as a result.
Since February, Google has made at least 4 or 5 smaller changes to its algorithm to improve search results further. Opinion is divided on what Google now wants from websites in order to rank well, but the general consensus at Distinctly Digital is that the following will aid your optimisation efforts in a post Google Panda world:
Frequently updated content – Google likes to reward fresh content with high ranking positions as it shows the site is topical and being actively managed. There are no exact guidelines but most businesses should aim to create a new page at least once a week.
Length of content – To establish your website as an authoritative site, it’s important to have pages on your website that are long and to discuss your subject area in great detail.
Domain ownership – Spammers typically register websites for the shortest period possible; 1 year. To indicate to Google that you are a trustworthy site, try extending your domain registration for 10 years (the maximum possible). Although this will only cost around £60.00 (£6.00 per year of registration), it proves to Google that you are serious about your website.