Panda 2.5: Fluctuations In The SERPs

The Panda 2.5 update brought about massive ranking changes in the SERPs on October 2011. Some sites performed well while others suffered significant drops in traffic and lost their position in the results pages. Fortunately, the minor tweaks that developers do for the filter today no longer leads to turbulence in the rankings.

What’s It For?

Google confirmed that they launched Panda 2.5 in October, but the team didn’t specify what type of sites, pages, and content were targeted by the update. As usual, the announcement came with a reiteration of their ultimate goal to provide high-quality websites to users in SERPs.

What Were Its Effects?

Panda 2.5 led to significant losses for some websites and considerable wins for others. The victims of the update included high-profile sites such as Consumer Affairs, Star Pulse, Medical News Today, Entrepreneur, The Next Web, Technorati, and Business Wire.

On the other hand, the sites that emerged victorious after the update were IGN, Last.fm, and Perez Hilton. Mainstream news sites such as Fox News, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal were also victorious. Moreover, there was controversy over Google’s own YouTube and Android.com, as well as the company’s partner, AOL.com, gaining extensive SEO visibility after the changes.

What It Means for You

The various tweaks and updates that Google developers conducted with Panda have led to it being integrated into the core algorithm instead of an independent one that’s run separately. There’s still expectations of refining the filter, but the process won’t have the same turbulent impact during its early days.

Here are five vital areas to prioritize in optimizing your website for Panda and, essentially, the core algorithm:

  • Content Quality – You may already know that creating valuable content is the best way for your website to reach the top spot in the SERPs. It can’t be stressed enough. Each post you publish should contain useful information that’s relevant and unique every time. Do your research on what your customers want to read about. Figure out the writing style that works for them by conducting a market test. Moreover, always remember that you’re writing for human readers first and bots second. This way, there’s a high likelihood that people will enjoy reading your material.
  • User Signals – User signals inform Google whether users are enjoying their time on your website or not. They’re the measurement of how relevant your posts are to their queries and whether you’re providing the type of information they need. Bounce rates, click-through rates, time on site, and the number of returning visitors are a few indicators of how well users are responding to your content.
    Google Analytics helps you track SEO data for your website such as how many people left without exploring more pages from your site, the number of visitors who converted into paying customers, and which channel gets you the most traffic. Other useful SEO services from the search engine are Google Trends and Search Console.
  • User Experience – This relates closely to user signals since poor user experience will lead to high bounce rates, low click-through rates, less time on site, and few returning visitors. More than thinking about what content to post, you must ensure that all aspects of your website work together to create a positive experience for your visitors. Fast site speed, intuitive navigation, few page redirects, little to no 404 errors, fewer ads, and limited affiliate links will improve how users perceive the authority and credibility of your brand.
  • Trustworthiness – While trustworthiness is not really quantifiable, Panda has a few signals that can evaluate your site’s integrity. One of the best ways to show that you’re serious about providing the best experience for your users is to get a security certificate for your site. With this, you ensure that each interaction performed in your domain is encrypted; making it difficult for hackers to breach your visitors’ data. Other things you can do is provide your contact information, being transparent with your privacy policy, low ad ratio, and proofread your content so that there are no spelling or grammatical errors
  • Over-Optimization – There’s such a thing as over-optimization, and Google highly discourages it. Black hat techniques such as keyword stuffing, hidden text, cloaking, and internal link stuffing are over-optimization tactics that attempt to game the search engine’s system. You shouldn’t aim for merely ranking your website. Instead, you should focus on providing relevant and unique information to users so that they keep on coming back to your site for more content.

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