Google Panda/Farmer Update: Reflections

Panda Farmer Update I’m not sure how much you’ve heard about the update in Google’s algorithm earlier in the year, but plenty of blogs and newspapers did talk about it after some issues with large companies spamming Google. SearchEngineLand, had actually awesome coverage covering all the details here, so we’re not going to beat the gory details to death. Really, I just wanted to take a moment of reflection on a start to 2011 in marketing that was quite concerning and some lessons learnt.

In all honesty, it was hard for me to be objective and see the silver lining in these changes. While Google did it’s best to weed out spam, and used data of the new Google website blocking feature, lots of honest sites (ahem-like this blog) got hit. Thankfully Google was working to fix the issue with a new layer and tweaks to the algorithm. We are now almost on our way to seeing our Google traffic return to pre-farmer update levels. Nevertheless, it was a good lesson in being complacent when it comes to your content.

So now that things seem to be somewhat stabilized, I wanted to share some lessons, and some tips to those that may be suffering from the Panda/Farmer update or concerned about the next big change. The first thing to know is Google is always updating their algorithm, so there is no point to worry about that. Focus on your site and fresh content. We fell, into a trap, by not producing as much new content as we had in the past, and maybe some low quality content slipped in/stayed around. The new change to the algorithm, or signals, really means you need to the look at the sums of your parts in the package. Are all the pages on your site the best they can be? Is it time for some pruning or re-writing. And take this advice seriously even if you were not affected, because the following scenario is likely to occur sooner rather than later: Right Google claims stated they do not use the data (yet) of sites users block, but as they noted recently: “While we’re not currently using the domains people block as a signal in ranking, we’ll look at the data and see whether it would be useful as we continue to evaluate and improve our search results in the future.” Personally, I can’t see how they would not use the data going forward. So think about this, when Google uses the sites blocked by users, those sub-par pages could be a major culprit in you losing traffic. I recommend, if you have not done so already to study those high bounce rate pages to see if you can make changes them to be more user friendly. I recommend you study carefully the Google quality guidelines and read their new SEO Optimization guide.

My final, lesson or piece of advice is to stop ignoring other search engines and other sources of traffic. We’re all guilty of being hyper focused on Google–its hard not to when they send a site so much traffic, but you have to calm the habit. Focus on getting users to come to your site direct. Find ways to get them to want to bookmark your site or come back on a regular basis. Use Twitter and Facebook more effectively. Most of all don’t forget there is also a solid 20% of non-Google search engine traffic still in play. Time to focus more on Bing, Facebook’s choice as search engine. Open a Twitter account. Create a Facebook Business page. Spruce up the profile on Linkedin Company listings. Or to put it in other words, try a combination of content review and diversification of channels. By taking this strategy it will help to lessen the impact of any algorithmic changes in the future. To help this end, we’ll be focused on adding more content on this site for those “other channels” to make it easier. Consider subscribing to our newsletter or RSS feed so you don’t miss a thing!

Adrian Speyer

About The Author: Adrian has over 12 years experience in Digital Marketing and Analytics. He currently works as a Marketing Manager at Vanilla Forums, a modern forum software platform that allows clients to connect and engage their communities and customers. He lives and works in Montreal.

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