How Panda 4.0 and Payday Loans 2.0 Affect SEO Agencies and Small Businesses Alike
Businesses that rely on search engine optimization tactics to rank high in Google may have seen a change in their own rankings over the past month. The reason for the change was due to the Panda 4.0 update and refresh, which changed the way Google’s site ranking algorithm displays search results, and it may have impacted the choices businesses have when it comes to selecting affordable SEO.
SEO employs a variety of strategies to make websites appear in the number one spot in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo based on a variety of keyword searches. With Google, especially, quality of content and web design are key in pushing a site to the top — not just the placement of keywords and phrases.
Earlier versions of Google’s algorithms, before Panda launched in February 2011, relied more on keyword placement, which allowed for many site owners to cheat the system. Since the initial Panda rollout, sites of higher quality in terms of design and content have been ranked higher in Google, while lower quality sites have been pushed down.
Google’s latest update in late May impacted approximately 7.5 percent of all search queries, which is the largest update to Panda that Google has seen. The sites most negatively affected, in addition to those that Google has deemed low quality, are Ask.com’s Q&A, eBay.com, and Retailmenot.com, a coupon website; PRWeb, PRNewswire, and PRLog, all of which are used for press releases, all lost approximately 85 percent of their search rankings as well.
Because previous updates to Panda caused some small businesses to suffer in rankings, Google’s Matt Cutts, head of the Webspam team, referred to Panda 4.0 as the “softer side” of Google’s algorithm to help those previously affected continue to recover. However, with certain types of press releases counting negatively toward SEO, many business that rely on this strategy may still find themselves penalized on the world’s number one search engine.
In addition to Panda, the lesser known Payday Loans algorithm, which sorts spam in traditionally “spammy” keyword searches (like “payday loans”) also received its 2.0 update this May. Only approximately 0.2 percent of search queries were affected, and of those, mostly those in industries for payday loans or pornography that have a lot of spam.
So what do SEO experts agree on when it comes to keeping their clients happy after Panda 4.0 and Payday Loans 2.0?
Gabriel Shaoolian, writing for “The Huffington Post,” reminds readers that “Content is king“: high quality blog posts, whitepapers, infographics, and videos “is integral for any business’ success online.” Jayson DeMers, writing for Forbes.com, agrees: “keep working at creating fresh new content that your readers will enjoy.”
Those who provide SEO services for small businesses weigh in, too.”There are always going to be a variety of components to monitor when it comes to effective SEO,” comments Scott Trueblood, President of BrandVision Marketing. “The staple component is going to center around content that is truly useful to today’s consumer. Google’s algorithm variables will always be a moving target to some extent, but they will most certainly view valuable content with strong favor.”
In the meantime, it’s important to remember that the changes aren’t there to penalize small business owners but aims to eliminate some of the clutter on the web. For agencies that provide affordable SEO services, the challenge now arises in how to continue boosting results for clients while using the best practices when it comes to Panda’s rankings.