Today I wanted to share my experience regarding the huge Google update to its algorithm called the Panda Update. The Panda Update was a “remodelling” of the Google algorithm used to determine website rankings in their search engine. Since the Google search engine is the most used by far, any changes to how it determines if your site should rank or not for a keyword has a dramatic effect on website owners.
One of the most important reasons that I want to have my own business is to remain in control of everything. I like the fact that I can make any decision I want regarding my company. Unfortunately, this is an illusion all entrepreneurs maintain in their mind; keeping control. Events such as the Panda Update remind you that you don’t control everything. In fact, the best you can do is to learn from external events and try to benefit from them over the long run.
To be honest, the Panda Update didn’t do any good for my sites. While most of them remained stabled or unaffected, I was seriously hit on The Financial Blogger. Search Engine traffic for TFB is down 55% since mid-April. This can’t be explained solely by a few sunny days after a terribly boring winter…
This led me to ask myself several questions:
I don’t think so. I get my share of comments, link backs from other bloggers and both my RSS readers and newsletter subscribers continue to climb.
Far from it! I continuously submit my articles to carnivals and get several mentions across the web on a regular basis.
Am I not keyword optimized?
Here again, I do a pretty good job with my other sites and I manage to rank well for most of my targeted keywords. Since my other sites weren’t too affected and I manage all of them the same way, I doubt this is a factor.
Not even! In fact, I now have a PR4 for TFB (was previously a PR3). The worst part is that I started to have PRs on other pages on my site.
Well, well… these 4 questions didn’t help me understand what is going wrong with my search engine ranking after the Panda Update… So I dug a little bit further and found some answers. The answers lie in the 4 Definitions Learned from The Panda Update:
We have always read on any internet marketing blog that content is King. Well content is now more than King, it’s Queen! (we all know that the queen decides everything, right? Lol!). The recent Panda Update focused on quality content more than ever and penalized companies such as Demand Media for producing keyword rich / content poor articles. Just to tell you how bad they were penalized, the stock (NYSE: DMD) is down 33% since the beginning of the year!
From this update, we have learned a little bit more about Google’s definition of quality content:
– Keyword rich / content poor articles will be penalized
– Small posts with a few buzz words in it will also be penalized (this is what I have experienced with some of my high ranking pages which were pretty small articles!)
– Lengthy or complete & well researched articles will be upgraded in Google rankings.
One of the Search Engine Optimization basic rules is to have as many links to a specific page with the same anchor text as possible. Google is known for giving high rankings to pages which received several back links. This is how the whole article marketing art was developed. By using software such as The Best Spinner and Article Marketing Wizard, you were able to submit tons of similar but original articles to article marketing website such as Ehow and Ezines. This would give you the option to include a link towards your page coming from huge websites such as those above mentioned.
Another well known technique for bloggers is to participate in roundups (as I do with my financial ramblings) and in carnivals. These are easy ways to get free links towards some of your articles. As you can see, as a blogger, there are several ways to increase your number of back links:
a) Doing article marketing
b) Submitting your post to carnivals
c) Participating in link roundups
d) Swap links with other bloggers on a one-on-one basis
e) Use your own network to cross-promote your site
The only problem with them is that Google doesn’t seem to give much power to these links anymore. The truth is that the Panda dropped the importance of article marketing websites in terms of authority as well as the quality of links from carnivals and roundups since they are all included in the same post (usually more than 10 links figure in a roundup or carnival article). It seems that Google is now solely looking for unique and genuine link backs that appear more “naturally” on the web when someone really likes one of your articles.
As you know already, I’m a big fan of Market Samurai (here’s where you can learn how to use Market Samurai). It is keyword optimization software that tells you quickly which keywords can be associated with your topic, their SEO competition and estimated daily traffic if you hit the #1 spot in Google.
But doing the keyword research doesn’t give a high quality post or guaranteed high ranking. You must keep in mind that all the big bloggers are doing keyword optimization and many of them are using tools such as Market Samurai. So keyword optimization that works is one that integrates both keywords rich content with a linking strategy that works.
On top of that, I found that if Google likes your debt management post for example, you have much better chance to rank for these topics as opposed to investments. In my case, each time I do a dividend stock analysis on The Dividend Guy Blog, I know I will rank on the first page. On the other hand, it would be virtually impossible for me to rank for a credit card review from the same site!
This leads me to my last point: Google likes your site for specific topics, nothing else. You will probably notice that it’s easier for you to rank for some topics while it is almost impossible for you to rank for others. After the Panda Update, I noticed that The Financial Blogger switch of direction to a “make money blog” affected its investment related topics while boosting ranking for entrepreneurship and career related keywords.
It was only after this analysis that I understood why TFB traffic was down compared to my other sites. This is where I have to make a choice; do more investment related topics or go forward with my new direction and talk about my online venture.
I’ve already made my decision but I am curious to hear what you think about it?
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