The Panda/Farmer algorithm update has been rolled out to English language regions as of Monday and a recent analysis reveals some UK sites have been hit. Let’s take a look at what sites have lost ground, but more specifically why. By now we are all aware of the Panda algorithm update. If not, here’s a reminder; Google implemented the update over a month ago in the US. It was designed to detect sites with poor content and demote them within the SERPs rankings – therefore promoting others in their stead.
The update that was first revealed in the US [See: Google Algorithm update: Quality Content is King] emphasised quality content and took action against spammy websites. The same algorithm hit our shores on Monday, as revealed by @SamJaneNoble [See: The Google Panda Update Reaches the UK]; this has since been confirmed by major fluctuations in some site’s rankings.
Search Metrics collected the data between the 5th and 12th April. They did this by analysing millions of different short and long tail keywords; looking particularly at the keyword search volume, position and statistical value of traffic distribution (this is their Organic Performance Index or OPI).
The full list of losers and winners was revealed by Search Metrics, but some of the notable losers include: pricedash.com, discountshoppinguk.co.uk, webdevelopersnotes.com, netvouchercodes.co.uk, pocket-lint.com, killerstartups.com, wakoopa.com, aceshowbiz.com, everydaysale.co.uk, electricpig.co.uk (this list was compiled by Search Engine Watch).
On first inspection it would appear that discount/voucher code websites have been hit the hardest. But to gain a better understanding of the Panda/Farmer update we really need to look at why they have been hit. This will allow us to look beyond the fact that Google state they are rewarding ‘high quality content sites’ and downgrading ‘low quality content sites’. What does this even mean?
Let’s look at pricedash.com first (according to Search Metrics, the website most affected by the update).
The first and most obvious indicator is that there is no original or unique content on the actual site, every written word seems to be a link. This makes it very difficult for search engine to actually pick up the website. Secondly all these links take the user away from the actual site.
Another example would be airfaresflights.co.uk. Again this literally has no written content apart from a few headings. Search engines use robot.txt files to search a site’s content – which usually embeds keywords to make the search more effective.
Search Metrics and Search Engine Watch have also indicated the sites that have been most successful. Of which we can see that techcrunch.com and econsultancy.com have gained 40.72% and 37.09% respectively according to the OPI. Why was this case? Well it’s simple, unique content and a site that is updated continuously throughout the day with blog posts and news stories:
The recent update actually makes for good news amongst copywriters and those providing SEO services in general. With a move towards on-site originality, there’s no excuse for using thin or duplicated content as it will harm your site’s performance if you fail to do so. It is up to copywriters to provide rich quality content to sites, which is keyword optimised. As you can see from the examples, those that don’t, wont rank, allowing those who do to prosper.