Search engine algorithms occur on a regular basis, but it's the big ones that people remember. Google's Panda ranks as one that created quite a stir in 2011. Some say that today’s entire strategy toward search engine optimization started with Panda. Any discussion that begins with the question of What is SEO? is likely to end with a mention or two of what Panda wrought.
Do you wonder what Panda changed in the last several years? Here are five areas where the process of SEO had to change or die in order to make the most of Google rankings.
Content: It’s Quality Over Quantity
There was a time when quantity was the name of the game. The goal was to create as much content as possible and post it as many places as possible. Whether or not the locations had much relevance to the content’s topic was secondary. Generally, the idea was that by having content in more places, the right people were bound to see it sooner or later.
With Panda, the focus shifted to higher quality content. It was no longer enough to create more of the same and spread it across the Internet. The content had to serve a purpose and provide the reader with something he or she could use. It also needed to be posted on sites that had some reasonable connection to the subject matter. Today, it’s higher quality and responsible placement that’s likely to be met with favor by Google.
Keyword Stuffing is Out
Before Panda, search algorithms tended to reward copy that was filled with as many keywords and phrases as possible. The result wasn’t always pretty in terms of display or readability. Even so, it was likely to rank higher in search results. That was frustrating for writers and website owners alike, especially if they wrote and published solid content that languished behind their keyword-stuffed counterparts.
While some debate on whether Panda did more harm than good, few would argue that starting to penalize content cluttered with keywords didn’t make things better. That was especially true for content including keywords that had little to no connection with the rest of the copy. Today, it’s rare to come across sites that still try to generate more page views by going crazy with the keywords.
Link Schemes Will Lead to Penalties
Link building and link schemes are not the same thing. At one time, there was more confusion between the two. Link building involves the responsible placement of links within carefully-crafted copy. The links are relevant and helpful to the reader. Google still approves of link building.
Link schemes once relied on using link exchanges and gratuitously injecting links that rarely had any connection with the copy. While you still see this from time to time, it’s nowhere near as common as before Panda or the Penguin release of 2012.
Multiple Changes in SERP
To say that Search Engine Response Pages haven’t changed would be difficult to prove. The fact is that the pages are no longer long columns of page descriptions and handy links. While those are still there, they’re joined by graphics and other elements designed to make the search returns more helpful.
Prioritizing Mobile Searches
The use of tablets and smartphones to search the Internet surpassed desktops and laptops a few years ago. What you may not know is that some of the changes wrought by Panda, Penguin, and later Hummingbird prepared the search engine to make the most of the movement to hand-held Internet devices. That’s not a huge surprise, since Google saw the potential when the first iPhone rolled out to customers in 2007.
These days, mobile sites, or at least sites that are mobile-friendly, often have a priority in search engine results. While other search engines have been slow to adopt the same approach, most are now catching on. The good news is that this movement doesn’t really change much for those who still rely mainly on laptops or desktops to search the Internet.
If you’re serious about keeping abreast of whatever Google and the other major search engines do with their search engine algorithms, you need a partner who knows how to monitor those changes. You’ll find that Toronto SEO companies, such as Seologist, OnecoreMedia, etc. can help with everything from content management to page layouts and responsibly placing links that encourage people to visit your site. Make the most of that type of experience and you’ll never go wrong.
Mike Zhmudikov, chief SEO strategist at Seologist Inc.