It’s fair to say that Google’s Panda update put the cat amongst the pigeons in the world of SEO. Some websites got clattered: some justified, some not. But that’s now water under the bridge. Businesses have to move on, and concentrate on what’s really important. There’s no point altering your whole seo strategy just because you might fall prey to the penalties that Panda might dish out: it’s self-defeating and will only mean you take your eye of the ball. Try not to think of the Panda update as a big stick that Google’s desperate to beat you with: think of it as a carrot instead, or an incentive to do better if you prefer. So what should you be doing instead? Well, what’s important is that you should turn your efforts wholly to making your website the best it can be. If you do this, it follows that your search engine rankings will improve. In the first part of this article we’ll look at simple ways you can improve your website and improve your position on the SERPs.
Make sure you provide ‘useful’ content for your readers
This should actually be a given anyway when you think about it. Which readers would want to read meaningless drivel anyway? Panda has re-enforced Google’s wish that websites should provide useful and high quality content: the changes to the algorithm aim to ensure this is standard across the search engine. Google wants top-quality content, so your task is to provide this.
It won’t always be easy, but like they say, if a job’s worth doing. So concentrate on what you write. Make it focused and relevant, and entertaining to, if you can. If you provide the type of information people want to read, then more visitors will come and your page rankings will improve. Avoid using spammy techniques and duplicating what others may have provided. If you want to be seen as the expert in your niche market, then provide content that is worthy: justify your claim to be the best.
Be different and unique
This isn’t just a matter of duplicating the type of content that others in your field provide. In some ways that’s inevitable. If your website sells the same product or services as others, say tennis balls if you want to take a ridiculous example, then you’ll struggle to create content that differs significantly from your competitors. Let’s face it, what can you really say about tennis balls other than they’re round and have been known to bounce? Focus instead on what makes you different: what’s unique about the product you’re offering? Is it sourced from sustainable materials? Is it constructed differently than other tennis balls? Does anyone famous endorse your product? Is it manufactured abroad under fair trade guidelines?
Understand the Search Engine results pages (SERPs)
Search engine results pages aren’t what they used to be. Time has moved on and they’re now populated by all sorts of different content, be that video, maps, news, images or shopping information. Your business should understand and analyse the SERPs, and test which results show up best for your chosen keywords. To take the tennis ball example again, if the most popular searches for ‘high-tech tennis ball’ appear in he SERPs mainly as images and videos, then there’s not really a great deal of point in simply providing written content. You just won’t register in the top pages. Generally speaking optimising for images or map rankings is statistically the quickest way to improve online visibility.
Whatever message a business wants to put across to its audience should be clearly stated in the page title, Mata description and URL, image titles and links. These features should re-enforce the content by utilising the keywords that users would most likely use when searching. This helps to keep the website more organised and also makes it easier for the search engine spiders to crawl the site. Instead of showing a picture of a tennis ball named ‘image001.jpg’ show it as ‘sustainable tennis ball’ and it will be more likely to show up in the results pages.
If you insist on using Flash, don’t use it to hold your key content
Search engines spiders can’t read Flash, so don’t incorporate your essential content into a Flash animation. It will be completely wasted. Ok, it might look great, but it’s simply self-defeating: it takes too much time and effort, and doesn’t bring any payback in terms of search engine results. Keep it simple.