As an online marketer or business owner, you know that traffic, leads and sales are the bloodline of your business.
Am I right?
Your sales come from the traffic coming to your pages. And there isn’t a better, higher-converting cold traffic source than Google traffic.
This post is going to give you some recommendations for getting more Google traffic. With just a few tweaks and some re-energized focus, you can significantly grow your Google traffic, and provide a long-term boost to your online business.
Google continues to adjust their algorithm by releasing updates (like Panda) that affect the way bloggers and webmasters should conduct their content strategy. It can really mean the difference of doubling or tripling your organic traffic, so it’s worth “playing into their algorithm”.
The latest major update was Panda 4.0, which began rolling out in May 2014. This major algorithm change may have already had a noticeable impact on your blog traffic. Even if you are not noticing the effects of Panda 4.0, you need to take action now to protect yourself against future Panda updates, which roll out approximately once per month.
What is Panda 4.0?
Short version: Panda 4.0 attacked content that was thin, un-original and aggregated from other sources.
The purpose of all the Google Panda updates is to promote sites that contain high-quality content, and push those that have low-quality content down in the search engine results pages. The better the content, the better chance your website has of attracting Google traffic. But what do “high-quality” and “low-quality” mean in this context?
After looking at the sites that were most affected by Panda 4.0, I identified the recurring mistakes that triggered these sites to lose organic traffic:
Pages that contain very little content have been blasted by this latest iteration of Panda. For example, eBay.com and Ask.com suffered major traffic drops following the release of Panda 4.0. Search Engine Journal suggests that the reason for the drop could be that these sites contain many pages with very few words.
Many of the biggest Panda losers previously thrived by compiling content from other sites. Reproducing content that was first published elsewhere on the web is a very risky SEO strategy, as Panda strongly prefers original content.
Also, the days of using keywords a certain number of times in your content are done. Instead of optimizing for keywords and SEO, get traction for your content by putting out great content and using social and online PR strategies that will attract higher quality exposure. History.com is an authoritative website that appeared to be hit by Google because of aggregated content. Even though the content was legit and thorough, the content was not completely original.
Not only is copying content from other sites a problem as far as Panda is concerned, but duplicating content between pages of your own site can also be an issue. Many sites that were reproducing a standard boilerplate text on many different pages suffered under Panda. For example, creating dozens of pages targeting different locations makes a site a target for a Panda punch-down, unless the content on each page is highly unique. Also, large e-commerce sites (like Overstock.com) that have duplicate category pages have had issues with Panda in the past.
How to Panda-Proof Your Blog
To protect your blog’s Google traffic against either Panda 4.0 or future Panda updates, you need to pay attention to the following key principles:
Avoid Thin Content
There is no absolute minimum number of words that a post needs to have, but if your blog consists primarily of very short entries, your search rankings are likely to suffer. Make a vow to write some longer posts. But, before you put fingers to keyboard, make sure you have something valuable to say!
This simple review page by Multiple Streams turned into a community (80+ comments) because of the thorough, in-depth content that sparked discussion and shared knowledge. The page gets several hundred hits a day and ranks well for the intended keywords.
Originality is key when it comes to getting out from under the Panda’s paw. If you have fallen into a habit of copying and pasting content from other blogs and simply adding your own comments between the copied paragraphs, then it is time for a new approach. Copying word-for-word, even with attribution, will not do you any SEO favors at all. If there is content on high-quality sites that you want to reference, include a link to it instead. Linking to high-quality sites is fine and natural – as long as the link placement is relevant.
Thin content doesn’t always refer to content that is very short. It is possible to write long articles that are still very thin. One mistake that many bloggers make is to try to target too many keywords in each post, with the result that none of the keywords are well targeted. Instead, try creating content that addresses a specific search query. “How to” posts are very useful for targeting specific long-tail keywords, but don’t make the mistake of wandering off the topic in an attempt to cram in a bunch of other keywords at the same time. Stay focused.
Every month (sometimes, even several times a month), Google refreshes the Panda algorithm, which means that it takes a fresh look at each site and re-ranks its quality according to Panda’s criteria. Once you have made changes to your content, you might have to wait for a while for your rankings and your traffic statistics to recover. Do not make changes and expect to see next-day reactions from Google.
Always remember, traffic is the bloodline of your online business. So, if you can increase your organic traffic 10% or 20%, your sales will likely follow.
Your challenge is to, at minimum, start writing your own, original content that is not aggregated from other sources. Provide thorough, expert-level content that can’t be faked or imitated. As up-and-coming bloggers, we can out rank big-name brands on the web by providing expert level and genuine content.
By following this counsel, your content will appear more often in Google search results and deliver more traffic to your site.
And remember, more traffic equals more sales.
What are your biggest challenges with Panda 4.0? Or with getting more Google traffic in general? Let me know by leaving a comment below!