Did you know that each year, Google releases about 500 minor changes to its algorithm? Approximately 50 of those changes are truly noteworthy, but only about 20 actually affect how Search Engine Marketers do business.
Google’s latest buzz-worthy update – named for engineer Navneet Panda – falls into the latter category, and has been making headlines in the SEM world since its release on February 24, 2011
Why Panda? Why Now?
In the past, Google surveyed panels of real people to determine what kinds of websites the public sees as trustworthy and credible. From there, Google engineers adjusted their algorithms so that those kinds of sites would appear higher in search result lists. Although this system was helpful, it required time-consuming methods.
The Panda Algorithm Update has revolutionized this process by enabling Google’s machines to generate and run their own “human likeability” checkpoints. This means that Google can now automatically evaluate websites based on their perceived value to the user.
Is the “Bear” Unfair?
Overall, Google’s main focus is good – to push sites that the average person will enjoy visiting higher in their rankings, while simultaneously pushing boring or unhelpful sites lower.
However, in some cases Panda has inadvertently caused credible sites to drop in page rank. For example before Panda, if Hotel X set up a website with unique copy, strategically placed keywords, a variety of internal links, and a few other components, there was a good chance the site would rank on the first page of Google’s search results. But post-Panda, the game has changed. Google’s new criterion for what makes a site credible includes some groundbreaking components.
While no one outside Google knows the exact Google algorithmic formula, some of its top engineers have dropped big hints about what matters in the age of Panda.
These key user engagement factors include:
• Site design & layout
• Content quality & “sharability”
• Bounce & click through rates
• Amount of time visitors spend on the site
• Number of pages clicked per visit
• Diversity of backlinks
• Social metrics & signals
What does this new set of criterion mean for your Internet marketing strategy? It means that now is the time to refocus your online efforts – and that’s where we come in! Over the next few months, we will be evaluating the overall experience our client’s potential guests are having online and implementing some exciting new strategies to get your website noticed by Google.