May 16, 2011, 3:47 am

4 Definitions Learned From The Panda Update

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Make Money Online
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Panda UpdateToday 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:

Was it because I don’t post quality content?

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.

Was it because I don’t have enough back links?

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.

Is my Page Rank affected?

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:

#1 The Definition of Content Quality

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.

#2 The Definition of Back Links Quality

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.

#3 The Definition of Keyword Optimization Quality

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!

#4 The Definition of Consistency

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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That’s a tough choice. You have numerous investing sites already – is having a 4th worth it?

What I wonder is what the “categories” for blog types may be according to G. As you stated, your investment and PF articles dropped when you ramped up your enterprise discussion. Odd as it is all “business”/

by: The Financial Blogger | May 16th, 2011 (8:28 am)

I guess Google is going more niche: investment, dividend, etf, financia planning could be all seperated topics. I’ve seen many people ranking for taxes or debt management even though they both financial topics as well.

I think I’m going to go foward with my business direction with TFB and direct my readers looking for investment and more PF stuff toward my other sites…

I am not sure how to research it in depth like you but it seems that every time I write about taxes I rank high and rank quickly.

As far as your site, if your bottom line isn’t hurting I LOVE the new direction.

by: The Financial Blogger | May 16th, 2011 (12:51 pm)

Yeah, I’m actually going to make less Adsense with TFB (which will be compensated with other niche websites shortly 😉 ) and probably be able to build a strong community instead.

Over the long run, I guess it’s a good decision!

I would say continue discussing the online venture, it’s definitely an angle you can be justified in discussing due to your success!

For what it’s worth I have been finding that the article marketing angle has not been devalued, it has just changed. The web 2.0 sites and web directories have lost value if they are the only backlinks you have to your site. I think how much value they have lost is up for debate as per my SERP findings, but the bottom line is that I have been finding posting on high ranking PR sites is now the way to go, especially for niche sites. Blog networks are tools that can definitely boost your niche rank in a hurry if used properly. Also, online SEO has increased in importance for my sites. It is imperative to optimize your site for search engines if your looking to build a niche site (much less so if your looking to build an interactive and successful blog like TFB).

Interesting findings that you have from the panda update. I would have thought that Google would be going more general authoritative website with lots and lots of content. I am somewhat confused now by what direction to go over the next several months. It sounds like you are figuring out what is working for you.

by: James T. Smith | May 16th, 2011 (10:23 pm)

Sometimes I think even the people from Google are starting to think Panda wasn’t such a great idea. The constant erratic updates have brought confusion to publishers and I’m sure to adwords users. Stability is everything, in fact conversions are so erratic using adwords it makes me miss implementation 10 years ago.

Content, content, content. I couldn’t agree more with #1. It is all about content.

[…] Financial Blogger presents 4 Definitions Learned From The Panda Update posted at The Financial Blogger, saying, “A look at how external sources can impact your […]

couple things from my experience….

1) explore other article directories to diversify the web

2) do not push a relatively new site too hard too fast. tons of back links to a newbie raises red flags faster than you can say it

by: The Financial Blogger | June 22nd, 2011 (6:52 am)

I’m currenlty concentrating on creating more sites and more content and I will hit directories and article marketing in the second phase of development. This will probably happen at the end of 2011 or early 2012.

[…] you have been following The Financial Blogger for more than a year, you will remember that I was hit by the Panda update. This was an update done by Google in order to “improve” site rankings in its search engine. […]

[…] the terrible Panda Update, they came back like heathens to finish their massacre after they already set fire everywhere […]