Last month we saw another Google algorithm update in the guise of Panda 4.1. in an effort to dismiss sites that offered a poor user experience. The update is predominantly content based. Little or poor content has been penalised, quality and quantity content has been rewarded.
We have all seen a slew of Google updates which have decimated low quality sites with poor or little content. The major difference with this up date is the number of higher quality or established sites which have been negatively impacted.
What triggers a Google penalty?
There are no tears shed for blatant affiliate sites, designed as a pre-sell page to direct users to affiliate products, feeling the wrath of Google. With little or no real content or value for the user, these sites are carefully prepped to falsely dominate rankings and force impulse sales.
There are concerns however when legitimate sites, many of which have significant age and page rank, are subject to scrutiny and declassification. Even though they are offering what users are looking for they have to be careful to adhere to stricter guidelines or face censure too.
Although Google has purposely not defined the criteria from the latest update, careful analysis of the affected sites gives us a clear indication of factors which triggered site penalty:
- Affiliate sites without useful information that were basically leading to others sites
- A list of affiliate links being featured on the page before genuine content
- Top organic listings with broken or blank pages
- Keyword stuffing, doorway pages, deceptive content, security warnings, pop-up ads, forced downloads
- ‘How To’ sites with quantity but low quality content
As mentioned earlier, this is nothing new but this update has been far more thorough. Affiliate sites which have been ranking form as far back as 2012 have now been penalised.
Did this update effect Local Business websites?
The new twist however has seen local business sites negatively impacted. It is no longer enough just to have a website and expect to appear in local organic listings. The factors which have affected the affiliate sites have now been rolled across the full spectrum of business sites too.
Anything which detracts from the user experience will have a negative impact on your site performance. Ads above the fold and image heavy pages (which slow page performance for mobile visitors) both being prime examples.
For maximum visibility you need to focus heavily on the content and experience your site is offering the user:
- Quality: Low volume, high quality content beats high volume, poor quality content every time. Compose your pages with the exact information your users are requesting.
- User Experience: Offer relevant content with simple navigation for ease of use and enhanced bounce rates.
- Optimize Every Page: Treat every page with equal importance to develop a full indexed site that can establish authority in your niche.
When is the next Google update?
The most concerning aspect of Panda 4.1 is that Google has stipulated it will no longer be announcing future updates but performing them as and when deemed necessary. This means every site must adhere to guidelines now of face the prospect of deindexing.
If you have concerns over your site you must get it analysed now.
Jungle Associates Ltd can perform free of charge a full website audit to indicate where your site is Google compliant and where it needs redesign. As SEO specialists, this Manchester based company is perfectly placed to provide your site with all the user rich content your site needs and the essential ranking criteria Google demands.