Taming Panda and Penguin – What Do Search Engines Really Want?

Since early 2011, Google has repeatedly updated and changed their core algorithm in such a way that tens or even hundreds of thousands of websites saw significant rank loss. One day at the top of the results for their target terms and the next scrapping for hits.

There has been plenty of discussion about what Panda and later Penguin did to Google’s algorithm, but I want to talk about it in different terms – I want to talk about the opportunities that such a change present to you as a content producer and site owner.

What Panda and Penguin Really Did.

Read any interview with Matt Cutts (Google’s search spam guru) and you’ll get some variation of the same advice, “Stop thinking of the search engine as a system to be gamed and think of it as an environment in which to thrive”.

Cutts makes it very simple – what Google is looking for is quality content that provides value to readers.

So, they’ve essentially learned how to detect when your site offers nothing of value over a competitor. Those keyword packed pages and relatively similar landing pages that repeat the same basic information over and over again? Those don’t work anymore.

For site owners that are willing and able to take advantage of this change, it represents a major shift in the landscape of content development. You can compete in nearly any niche if you find a unique angle from which to do so.

Putting Your Site on Top.

So, what can you do to create a powerful, targeted presence on the web that will rank exceptionally well in your niche?

  1. First, stop thinking of your site as a poster board for keywords and carefully engineered backlinking. The primary goal and the thing you focus on first in your site should be value-add.

    What value do you offer to your readers and how does it differ from that of your competitors?

  2. If you don’t have the expertise, experience or content to compete in a large niche, find a smaller sub niche in which you can compete. Offer the best content in your corner of the web and show people how you are unique. Google is designed to find quality results that help users “solve problems”.

    Does your content solve problems? If not, it’s time to make some changes.

  3. Refocus your efforts to content and not link building. Think of yourself as a marketer, not a link builder. If you create quality content and brand yourself as a content producer that people can trust, links will come and will look more natural and of a higher quality to Google.

    Of course, content you create cannot be designed solely to build links. It needs to be related to your topic and site and offer real value to your readers.

There’s a habit SEO’s and site owners have of wanting things to be more complicated than they are – of turning each of these algorithm changes into a machine that needs to be reverse engineered. And while it’s true that people will eventually figure out what signals Google is looking at and tweak their efforts to match it, those people are missing the point.

Eventually, Google will catch up to any new “system-gaming” techniques and implement new changes to theirs algorithm.

But you can just forget about this cat and mouse game and jump ahead of your competition and stay there simply by creating unique content that is useful, offers value to your readers and that is related to your site’s focus.

Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below.


AlexTaming Panda and Penguin – What Do Search Engines Really Want?

Comments 9

  1. Scott A. Dennison

    Good post Alex – content is where its at. Many of us are on the move to curate content in our niche, plus create original, high-value content that people like enough to link to and share. Its not hard, just different.

    I do think there’s more to it though. I read this post last week: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2200995/Is-Google-Afraid-of-the-Big-Bad-Wolfram

    … and it explains that WA , the technology behind Siri offers up more relevant info in search results because it does not have the massive link profile that Google has.

    Hense the madman approach to blowing up sites and forcing the removal of links. What do you think? Read this article and let’s all discuss…

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Hi Scott,

      You’re right… Google search results are still pretty bad in some niches, for years they gave so such weight to backlinking that now they have a BIG mess on their hands, but I think that they have the resources to clean it up and they will eventually.

  2. Herschel Lawhorn

    Hi Alex,

    Well I agree that trying to game the search engines is certainly not working anymore. It is time to start putting great unique content on our sites. The problem with that is it takes a lot of time or money and I am short of both.

    Herschel Lawhorn

    1. Post
      Alex Safie

      Hi Herschel,

      If you’re in a niche that you are knowledgeable of passionate about creating great content for it should not be hard.

  3. David in SC

    That’s good stuff Alex…

    I find myself having to “unlearn” so much now.

    It would be so nice to just “let go” and keep it SEO simple and write for the reader.

    Thanks for the post Alex,

    David in SC

  4. Joshua Cabe Johnson

    Hi Alex,

    I love your stuff.

    But, I’ve gotta say, link building is still very well alive and you can still rank without great content.

    It’s when you are in heavy traffic niches and ranking top 3 that you need that beautiful ‘authorative’ content to hold your position.

  5. Smartnet53

    Good back links can help if you know how to use them.
    Google is weeding out the black sheep just trying to get rid of the spammers. Google is king of the search engines, and it plans to stay there. It can be quite simple to understand what Google is up to just build a good informative website for your visitors. Put yourself in your visitors place…

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