First there was an invasion of pandas, and more recently we have been battling penguins. Google’s raft of algorithmic updates over the last year or so have not only been very effectively weeding out the poor quality content which has been saturating the search results for far too long, but it seems they have also been obsessed with animals beginning with the letter P.
I can only assume that in the next few months we are going to be facing an onslaught of pythons, panthers or porcupines, all of which will need to be treated with a good deal of caution. Of course it could also be argued that Google’s recent series of updates has more to do with monochrome members of the animal kingdom than with the letter P, in which case look out for a killer whale heading your way soon. I think my argument about caution still stands.
Google’s Panda update came down hard on many well established websites which had for too long ignored the fact that they were stuffed full of poor quality content, or reliant upon links from sites which were chiefly comprised of poor quality content. The Penguin update, more commonly referred to as the web spam update, was designed to seek out content which had all the value of a hand sketched £20 note, the credibility of an unexpected e-mail advising you of a substantial inheritance, and all the quality of a no-frills cracker toy.
The Three Types Of Reaction To Google’s Updates
One thing I have noticed post Panda and post Penguin is that online marketers and article writers seem to fall into one of three categories. The first category of people include those who have been virtually unaffected by either update, and who feel pretty smug about the whole thing, and believe that nothing about their current online marketing and content development needs to change. Of course, they’re wrong.
The second category of people include those who have been affected to a greater or lesser extent by one or both of these algorithmic updates implemented by Google, and who are unsure exactly why they have been penalised, and are desperately adapting their marketing and content development in the hope that something will suddenly start to work. A bad approach.
The third category of people include those who may or may not have been affected by Penguin or Panda, but who are well aware of the fact that at some point in the past they have been less than auspicious in their content development, or article marketing. The last few weeks and months are likely to have been spent pruning fairly drastically, and developing content and articles of a rather better order than previously. This is certainly better, although I have some reservations still.
Understanding Why These Responses Are Wrong
So why is it that I believe the first category of people are wrong? If your website has been relatively unaffected by either the Panda update or the Penguin update there is absolutely no reason to feel smug. Yes, so far your tactics and approaches may well have paid off, but it is certainly not the case that Google has finally reached their goal, or that they no longer intend releasing any further algorithmic updates. They will inevitably become tougher, more rigorous, more adept at distinguishing fluff from hard-core quality. And it certainly isn’t enough to either keep up with Google, or even to keep one step ahead of them, if that’s possible.
The recent algorithmic updates from Google have made everyone very much more aware of the need to deliver high quality content on a much more consistent basis. You can be quite certain that your competitors are already pruning back content which no longer suits today’s web, and are busy developing significant quantities of high quality content and article marketing. To sit back now and do nothing is to allow your competitors to have the edge.
The second category of people are certainly unwise if they are leaping about almost at random with very little idea of either what will work, or what may already be causing a problem. It is very easy to make mistakes, such as a lopping off a large chunk of your website in the belief that it may be causing harm. Yes, it might, but by cutting down the amount of content you have very quickly and very suddenly you could find that your relevance and authority is penalised even further. It’s important not to react to Google’s updates, but to respond to them. A response differs from a reaction in that it is informed, and carefully planned.
Although the third category of people may well have less to worry about than the first two categories, I do have concerns about just how genuine the creation and delivery of fresh new content is likely to be if it is being distributed or published by businesses which are well aware of the fact that they have previously been creating content which was little more than fluff, and which was been picked up by and penalised by Google in one or other of their recent updates.
I worry that such businesses will simply be tweaking their previous approaches in order to appease Google. This is not what a post Panda and post Penguin web should be about. Certainly Google is not implementing their algorithmic updates merely to challenge businesses to create content which will match their changing expectations.
Creating Web Content And Articles In A Post-Panda World
Creating content and articles today should not be about appeasing Google, or even appealing to Google. Google is smart, and their algorithms are unbelievably complex and intelligent. They are now using vast amounts of data generated not by computers, spiders or bots, but by real people, and their real behaviour and real responses to and interactions with web content.
Effectively today in order to make sure that you are still protected tomorrow you have to know three things, and do three things.
You have to know:
1. who your target audience is
2. what they are looking for
3. what they need
You have to do:
1. only write if you have something meaningful to write about
2. write to specifically address you audience’s needs
3. forget SEO, forget LSI, forget optimisation – just write naturally for real people.
When it comes to articles and web content, search engine optimisation should be something which comes into play during the editing and proofreading stage, and not in the initial drafting stage. The more naturally you write, and the more closely you meet your audience’s needs the more likely it is that not only will your content succeed today, but when Google’s next algorithmic update is launched, your website is less likely to be adversely affected. Or eaten by a killer whale called Patrick.