Many website owners take shortcuts in order to increase the number of pages on their website, without taking the critical step of making sure that those pages are useful. It is also very common that these pages contain either duplicate content, no content, thin content or worse – spun content.
What is the Panda Algorithm?
Panda is the update to Google’s algorithm designed to penalize websites that have low quality, duplicate or thin content. Panda 4.0 is said to be not just a small update to the algorithm, but a new architecture of Panda. This new architecture may help your small business increase its visibility when competing against larger websites.
Was My Small Business Site Hit by Panda 4.0?
Check your Google Analytics account. If you lost major traffic on or around May 20th, 2014 then you may have been hit by the Google Panda new release. To verify, segment your traffic to just Google organic traffic and gauge if week over week May 20th vs May 13th shows a loss of 30% or more. (If you need help on this leave me a message in the comments).
What Are Examples of Thin or Duplicate Content?
For every page you add to your website, you need to define the purpose of the page. Do this by putting yourself in the mindset of the consumer and zero in on the information they will be looking for once they land on that page.
You may have created location pages for each geographic area that your office serves. However if the content that is published on each page is essentially identical, except for the address, it will hold no real value to a consumer. Or the search engines.
If the page is targeting the term “SEO Services”, your content will need to contain a local angle to rank and convert for that term. On the Dallas page, for example, you could include local testimonials from Dallas clients. Or it could be links to marketing products that are popular just in the Dallas area. Finally it could have a few original sentences about your company and services in Dallas. The point is to tailor the content on the page to what the searcher is looking for, and make sure each page is unique.
Relevancy and intent of the searcher is a major factor in ranking today. Brainstorm what your angle will be, create content that supports it and make sure it is something useful.
How Long Should My Blog Post or Website Content Be?
The best practice for content length is to not have a predetermined content length. Different topics require different amounts of information in order to be fully covered. Because of this, varying lengths of content are the norm.
There have been studies that show posts greater than 2000 words correlated to higher rankings. And we have seen Google reward longer content with the introduction of rich snippet displays for in-depth articles.
Studies also advocate for the use of long form content, because it attracts social shares, links and for some product types can convert better than short form copy.
The point is not how long the copy, but at what length will it become useful, functional and convert your visitors. Balance the amount of content with the subject matter and the target audience. Bullet points and an infographic might be perfect for some topics and audiences, while other topics are better served by more.
What Keyword Density Should I Have in My Content?
Keyword density is an outdated tactic that has outlived any usefulness it once had. It is still best practice to have your keywords mentioned in the body of the content. However stuffing keywords into a piece of content can get you penalized. And there is no magic formula for determining how many times you need to mention your keywords. Using that as a guideline often results in stilted, unnatural sounding text.
Final Note on Thin and Duplicate Content
Content can be expensive to develop and publish if you don’t have natural-born writers on your staff. However shortcuts are less effective. Take a look at the content quality of your website and try to determine if you were hit by Panda 4.0 or not. That can help indicate whether you are on the right track with your website content or not. Remember that you are a consumer also and you can relate to what a turn-off it can be to land on a page that is nonsense or doesn’t have the relevant content you were searching for. Using that as a guide will help you avoid making the kinds of content mistakes that the Panda update is trying to filter out.