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Google’s Panda Update and the importance of strategic link development

Last month the SEO blogosphere was awash with hype and concern about Google’s latest algorithm update; Panda (otherwise known as the ‘Farmer’ update thanks to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land). This update is Google’s latest attempt at removing low quality content from their search results by devaluing websites that both produce and host huge volumes of low-quality, often keyword-stuffed content, sometimes known as ‘content farms’. The rational being that users are finding these sites in their search results but the content they provide does not always match expectations. The problem is arguably Google’s own doing as website owners are creating content simply in the pursuit of links, a key factor in how Google ranks one site over another. The big problem is that content is being created purely for the purposes of garnering links at the expense of quality.

Over the years, Google has regularly updated it’s algorithm with the objective of providing the most useful and relevant search results for it’s users. Google will  continue to do this which means tactics that add value today may not add the same value tomorrow, with ‘content farming’ a prime example.

From everything I’ve read online (and in print) most commentators seem to be working themselves into a fit of worry about how the update is going to affect their rankings. Of course, this is something we’re constantly monitoring and looking into, but for me, the main point to take away from the whole process is the reinforced importance of a varied approach to link building, but with a particular focus on editorially driven link development strategies. It has become the norm for Leapfrogg to approach link building from an editorial angle; we create content that is of genuine and relevant interest that adds value to the experience of the reader both on-site and elsewhere. However, it seems many others have been over-reliant on techniques that focus on quantity over quality and thus are concerned by the impact of the Panda update.

To ensure your link building efforts deliver the best results possible, you must think strategically about what you’re doing. Focusing all of your energies and time into one tactic, regardless of the value of that tactic, is not sensible. Unsurprisingly, Google like to keep updates to their search algorithm under wraps until they are ready to be launched. What this means is, that unless you’re lucky enough to own a crystal ball, there really is little chance of knowing what Google will do next. So in order to cover yourself for new updates that might be around the corner it’s crucial to ensure your link development activity includes a wide array of different techniques and tactics.  Carrying out different link development tactics like this should hopefully result in a varied and colourful back link profile. This is a really important point because if Google’s next update devalues a certain type of link the impact to your rankings will be limited if the update only devalues 25% of your links rather than 80% or 90%.

Essentially what I’m trying to say is that putting all of your eggs in one basket is never a wise move. If you separate your eggs, or links, into different baskets the impact of damage to one basket will not hurt you as much as it would if all of your eggs were in that damaged basket. So think strategically and plan your activity around a range of tactics rather than simply looking for the quickest win. As a simple rule of thumb when it comes to any search based activity, think…

Users first, search engine’s second

If you are currently creating content purely for the purposes of gaming search engines, stop. Not only are you failing to add value to the experience of your website visitors by providing content that is genuinely useful, you also run the risk of Google placing little or no value on this content. Which in short, makes it a complete waste of time and resource.

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