If you look at the Search Engine Marketing forums on the web, you will often see pleas for help regarding Google’s Panda update, these asking EXACTLY what is needed to get back lost rankings.
If you follow the chatter further, you will see that people have tried to remove the penalties by adding more and more content, a process that rarely seems to have worked. But why is this, was not the main thing that Google were trying to achieve more content?
This is the issue, as people think that just adding new (or more) content to your site will reverse their Panda issues, but they are wrong, research has shown that you need to add the right kind of content and perhaps will need to make other major changes to your Web site.
The sites that have been worst hit by Panda have one or more of the following problems to deal with:-
- Duplicated content
- Excessive use of manufacturer descriptive text (often from xml feeds)
- Non-unique content
- Excessive on-site ads
- Poor on-page optimization
Google Have Tried to Help (a little)
But you cannot say that Google have not tried to help (even if it was a bit late in the day) as in May 2011 Google’s Amit Singhal posted an item on the Webmaster Central Blog:-
The post gave some insight into how Google assess a high quality site, there being over twenty questions on the content of a site. Just how Google’s systems actually check all these is a marvel (and perhaps some are done by humans?) but if Google are pointing to them, then they must be worth checking up on.
How to get back into Google’s Good Book
So, WHICH content is going to get your site back in Google’s good graces? Well the answer appears to be User Generated Content, or (UGC).
The next question must therefore me “What is UGC?”
Basically, “User Generated Content” is content that users adds to a web site or which you add as a result of discussions with them
UGC includes any of the following:
- Customer testimonials
- Product or service ratings
- Product and service customer reviews
- Discussion boards
- Customer or site-driven WIKIs
- Product tutorials (video or text-driven)
- How-to guides or FAQ’s
- Company or customer interviews
- Social media content (blog comments, likes, tweets, etc.)
All this sounds to me to be very much like a Forum, as these often serve a niche community, a community that adds content, and promotes and shares that content to others.
This could also of course be achieved by the use of a Blog.
The Blog – the Bridge Between Websites and Social Media
This idea is nothing new, and at Serendipity we have been pushing the idea of a blog being the ‘link’, the bridge between a website and the Social Media for months now. The reason behind this simply being that Social Media Signal is increasingly becoming important to Search Engine rankings, something that is now being found to be fact, Google, via Panda, effectively demanding the sort of content that a blog will provide.
The Emotional Connection
However, word on the street is that even good content won’t be enough any more, no, you also need content that will make an emotional connection with your audience, and thus provide content that they will take on board and run with, posting on Facebook and Tweeting as they go.
To make this emotional connection is in my view not that easy, but for a start you can consider providing content that is
- Just plain shocking (although this is risky)
My advice is to first ensure that your site has reached the first base here, in that it has good relevant unique content, and then work on the emotional connection. Whatever you do, you can rest assured that many will do less, and that will give you the advantage, so do what you can and do it as soon as you can.