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Google Panda SEO Checklist

By in Search

The search engine optimization community, and those who do it for their own websites, have been turned on their ear this year since Google released it’s Panda algo.  According to Google, the reason for the update to their ranking methods was due to the amount of spam in their index.  The Panda, they said, has been unleashed in order to reward high-quality websites while at the same time demoting undeserving ones.

Pandas Are Cute, But Brought Big Changes To Webmasters Everywhere

Whether these goals have been met is debatable, but it does seem clear that things are much different in the Google index than they used to be.  That isn’t to say that all garbage has been removed.  It hasn’t.  There’s also no guarantee that ‘high quality’ websites will be rewarded.  After all, quality is in the eye of the beholder.  Still, it seems in some circles a consensus is being reached that certain factors are important to Google Panda and can’t be overlooked.  Let’s take a look at these areas and see if they can help a website recover from a Panda-slapping.

  • Thin content is out.  Google itself outlined a number of guidelines about quality on May 6, 2011.  Reading these it becomes apparent that Google really doesn’t like ‘thin content.‘  To them, this term indicates ‘shallow’ pages that contain very little information and are essentially created to gain search engine traffic and display ads.
  • Duplicate content makes Google even more upset.  They don’t want to see it, so if your pages that are merely duplicates of other pages that already exist, get rid of them.  You can always add the ‘noindex’ tag to them or simply delete them altogether.  Either that, or you can consider reworking the pages until they meet a higher level of standards and are unique.
  • Make sure your content is original and substantial.  If you’re making factual points, back it up with source links.  Use a language style that is appropriate to your audience.  Be thorough and take the time to put enough information into your post that readers will feel satisfied upon reading it.  Some have suggested that there’s now a minimum word count that’s necessary to achieve Google greatness.  Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say longer pages tend to contain more information than short ones do.  To be on the safe side, you may want to extend your short articles.
  • Validate your HTML.  This topic has been argued to death, but in reality there’s no good reason to leave unvalidated HTML on your website, so take the extra time to clean it up.  At the very least, you’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling that you’re making your website more accessible.  If it really is a factor, your rankings might return.

All of these tips are being handed out by multiple sources and they’re acceptable enough to try.

Google’s guideline is worth reading, especially with an open mind.  Many websites have been built primarily around keywords and those websites used to rule the day.  Now, there’s some debate on whether Google has gotten good at semantic indexing.  If they have, it might explain why the old ‘silver bullet‘ of exact anchor text and exact title has seemingly faded into oblivion in recent weeks.  Either way, it’s probably worth a look at your titles and tags to make sure you haven’t ‘overdone’ things in your quest to rank.  De-optimizing your pages has resulted in success for some, according to anecdotal reports.

In summary, Google Panda seems to be aimed at low-quality websites.  Focusing on quality improvement seems like the most logical way forward.  Since visitors are what matter the most, focusing on them having a pleasant experience is a sound strategy and might be enough to help you get back on track.