Anyone who has interest in SEO, will know that Google has the habit of regularly throwing the cat among the pigeons by updating its algorithm to change the way it indexes pages. Well they have been at it again. Earlier this month with an update nicknamed “Freshness“, and earlier in the year with a second update: “Panda” – which was itself tweaked only last week. Both of these updates are aimed at ensuring that Google delivers search results that are considered relvant by their users. Without going into too much technical detail, the main thrust of these updates is as follows:
The Panda Update
Panda changes the way that Google rate the popularity of a web page, and what the user experience is like. Traditionally, they have done this by assessing the number and quality of links coming into the page, and how well the page is designed. They have now enhanced this by bringing in user experience factors like:
- How frequently do people click on a site when it appears in the search results
- How long do users spend on a site after they find it in a search
- How many people are referencing the page via social networking through Tweets, Facebook ‘likes‘ etc and of course the Google +1’s
- How often do people go straight back to the search results after clicking on the page
So there is a real focus on the quality of inbound links rather than the quantity. Another nail in the coffin of “500 links for $50” link farms – no bad thing in our view! I don’t plan to say much more about the SEO technicalities, but if you want to know more about Panda, (including where the name came from – though it isn’t as interesting as it might be!), you might find this video interesting. I will talk a little more about the implications of Panda from a marketing perspective later, but first a little about “Freshness“, the second and more recent Googlke update
The Freshness Update
Where the Panda update was all about ensuring that search results are offering the best user experience, Freshness is all about ensuring that search results are up to date. This is particularly relevant if your communications are time sensitive. If your content is about current news & events or celeb culture, then Freshness is going to have a big impact. But whatever your market, Freshness puts the focus on new content, so keeping your site fresh and up to date is now more important than ever. Again, if you want to know more from a direct SEO perspective, here is a video on the subject.
Enough of the technical stuff, the real question is what does this mean for your marketing, and how do our recommendations change in light of these updates? The simple answer is they don’t really! We have always advocated that the best approach to practical SEO is to ensure that your site is relevant, up to date and interesting for your target market. These latest Google updates reinforce this position. If your content is relevant and current, people will read it, share it and talk about it. This will have a positive impact on your performance in search results. One thing I would add to this is that making your content easy to share by including Like/Tweet/Google +1 buttons on your site is now even more important. One final thing to bare in mind is that the Panda update seems to take into account behavior of non-search led traffic to your site. If users are activly seeking our your site, visiting it directly (not via a search) and spending time on it, this behaviour can have a positive effect on search performance. We have always advocated targeted email tied into good fresh website content as a great marketing approach. These updates strengthen this position through direct visits having a positive impact on your website search performance.
Panda & Freshness: Top Tips for your Marketing
Here are a few tips to consider when thinking about your marketing:
- Make sure your site can be easily updated with high quality, fresh content
- Ideally make sure that this content is available via an RSS feed (Following the freshness update Google now seem to be using RSS feeds more extensively in their serach results)
- Use relevant buttons and links to make sure your content is easy to share on Twitter/Facebook/Google+ etc
- Monitor user behavior on your site. Are people browsing or just taking a quick look and going away never to return. This can be a indication of irrelevant or uninteresting content.
- Look for ways to attract relevant non-search driven users to your site. make sure you promote your site in all your marketing activities (both on and off line)
We have always said that if you have an interesting site, relvant to your target market, that people will be happy to find on Google, then Google will want it to rank high in relevant search results. Our approach to online marketing has always followed this belief. If you would like to talk about what we can do for you, please get in touch. We are always happy to talk about marketing, because we love it!