Friday, 6 June 2014

Panda 4.0: What Does It Mean for SEO and Content Marketing?

by Owain Lloyd-Williams

Another month, another Google algorithm update. May saw Google unleash the much-talked-about Panda 4.0 update, with its release coming in the most nonchalant way possible in the form of a casual tweet from Matt CuttsSo what does this mean for the world of SEO and content marketing? 

We’ve already seen a fair few winners and losers, and while most of us know that Panda punishes pages with “thin” or low-quality content and reiterates Google’s general direction with regard to favouring quality content as a SERP factor, its effect on the daily workings of a digital marketer are perhaps still somewhat unclear. 

As such, we managed to grab our very own SEO Director Gurdeep Gola for a few minutes from his busy schedule and ask him on his thoughts on Panda 4.0 and what it means to him when it comes to managing various SEO campaigns. We’ve also vied for Gurdeep’s thoughts on Google algorithm patterns for the future and what he sees as potential major ranking factors further down the line.  

1) What do you think the Panda 4.0 update means for content marketers/marketing? 

I think Panda 4.0, alongside the recent Payday Loan 2.0 update, refers to Google's constant drive to clean up spammy search results. 

Originally, Panda was launched to target sites that duplicate content whether on or offsite. Onsite would refer to targeting sites which suffer from "page bloat" where sites have high volumes of pages which have little unique content. Offsite refers to targeting links generated from content syndication, article spinning and any other forms of low-quality scalable content production.

I think if sites address both of the above and proactively reduce duplicate onsite content and remove legacy backlinks which may have been gained via what are now considered spammy tactics, then you should avoid any current or future Panda slaps.

2) Does this mean forms of content marketing such as guests posting is a dead duck?

Guest posting still has its place, but like any tactic it’s supplemental to your SEO strategy and isn’t the core focus. Over the last few years, guest posting has been massively abused and pretty much ended up being the new article syndication that could be done on a huge scale.
Google have actively targeted these "guest posters" who have used this tactic to acquire large amounts of keyword-rich anchor text. As with any tactic, it should always be done in moderation and with emphasis placed on quality and relevancy.

3) If you were Matt Cutts, what update would you implement into Google in the near future?
My update would be what I would call the "dropped domain" update. Historically, people have set up domains for the purposes of selling links, buying existing domains which have high PR and placing a significant amount of low-quality content and then selling links for hundreds of pounds and in some cases thousands. I would love to see Google actively slap these sites which are run by modern-day spammers and finally kill a diminishing business model that gives the SEO industry a bad name.

So there you have it – an interesting insight into an expert’s view on Panda 4.0 and what it means with regards to the daily workings of the SEO industry. Although it may be a little too early to discern the full effect of Panda 4.0, it’s always wise to stay on top of Google’s latest updates to ensure to establish best practice and avoid being stigmatised by what is sometimes affectionately referred to at TO Towers as “The Great Eye of Google”. 

Anyway, here’s to Gurdeep’s “Dropped Domain” update – Matt Cutts, we hope you take note!

Image credit: PiattiLeti

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