This is a guest post by Brian Patterson, a partner at SEO consulting firm MangoCo.
The Google Panda Update hit many webmasters like a freight train, leaving a long line of quality websites as collateral damage. While the Panda update did have the noble cause of weakening the grip that content farms had on the SERPs, many high-quality, content-rich websites were cleaned from Google in one fail swoop. To address the outrage found across the blogosphere, Google has provided a list of questions to ask yourself if you want your rankings to return.
From the list of questions Google provided, I’d like to propose 3 cheap solutions that could help get you back in Google’s favor.
1. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
I think it is a little ridiculous of Google to even consider this as something to base rankings on, but I won’t get very far arguing with them (I’ll leave that to Aaron Wall).
The question is, what could we possibly do to have Google think the answer for this is ‘yes’ for our website? Remember, they are doing this via algorithm, so it’d be pretty hard for them to analyze our design or look for other superficial indicators of trust.
However, there are ‘tangible’ items that they can check for to indicate trust, and what makes the most sense to me is for Google to check for the ‘Verisign Verified’ seal. It’d be pretty easy for Google to look for this, and if it is there, the website gets the box checked on this question. At ~$19/month, its a minimal investment if your website was previously making a great deal of money but took a big Panda hit.
2. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
This question does have merit, but I really doubt Google’s sophistication to check for deep stylistic and grammar errors. While the built-in Microsoft Word grammar check is ok and probably on par with what Google would be able to do (my speculation), Apple’s built in grammar check is atrocious.
Rather than rely on these built-in tools, my preference of late has become a very comprehensive ‘cloud’ grammar check tool called Grammarly. This tool grades the grammar of an article, performs comprehensive content reviews, and offers rich suggestions for improving the quality of an article. At around $10/month, it is well worth the investment and I’m pretty confident it’s much more comprehensive in reviewing content than Google could ever be (because grammar isn’t the space Google operates in full-time).
3. Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
The recent ranking correlation data gathered and analyzed by SEOmoz is nothing short of shocking. Of all of the metrics they track, Facebook Shares (not ‘Likes’) have the highest correlation to rankings. Google’s question on ‘sharing’ here, plus this corellation data, leads me to believe that Facebook and other social shares could be a critical signal in the Panda algorithm. There are hundreds of tools to help in this space, but I’d like to point out a few of my favorites… and the best part is, these are free!
- ShareThis – Put this button at the end of your article. It’ll give people an opportunity to easily share your content across a number of social and bookmarking sites.
- fbShare.me – Facebook is making it more difficult to do ‘sharing’ and instead favors their ‘Like’ button. Sharing on Facebook means that it can show up in another users ‘Top News’, whereas just ‘Liking’ a piece of content will not show up in one of your friend’s ‘Top News’. This handy little widget does all of the work for you to get ‘Share’ on your site.
In addition to these two tools, increasing your overall engagement in social media will ensure that your content constantly stays in people’s various social streams.
So there you have it, 3 tools that can help you beat the Panda update. Matt Cutts has indicated that the Panda algorithm is not run daily, so it could take some time to bounce back after implementing all of the various changes being suggested.
This is one of the most sweeping updates Google has performed, and sites caught in the cross-fire can expect numerous tweaks and adjustments by Google as time goes by. By focusing on what Google is saying publicly about the update, we can attempt to make educated guesses on how to satisfy the various pieces of the algorithm.