Effective SEO in a Post-Panda Market: The Rules Have Changed

Like any business, Google's objective is to provide their users with the ideal experience - that means delivering the information the user is searching for without forcing them to wade through page after page of fluff and garbage. If your ranking has taken a post-Panda nosedive, don't throw in the towel just yet. Your site can be salvaged, but you'll have to change your M.O. - no more keyword stuffing, article spinning, or other lazy techniques if you want to show up early in search results.

The Not-So-Secret

Of course, search engines are driven by algorithms. Most of old SEO techniques were based on tricking said algorithm, but Google's Panda update made that very hard to do. The changes to the algorithm itself are very secret, but here's one change that's not - search engine results are now being evaluated by real, live people. Across the U.S., there are scores of evaluators who actually lay eyes on a page and rate how well it answers the search query according to a detailed rubric. Old-fashioned SEO, especially when clumsily done, will almost always get flagged as spam because it doesn't offer value to the reader.

Out: Keyword Stuffing

In: Organic flow of words

Stop thinking in terms of a single keyword - start thinking of related terms. For example, instead of packing your article with the most possible references to "lose weight fast", use other related phrases like "weight loss", "diet", "exercise" and "fat loss". If your content is written organically, these phrases will pop up naturally. A keyword should never disrupt the flow of a sentence or produce an awkward-sounding phrase.

Out: Article Spinning

In: High-quality, journalistic content

Sure, it's much quicker to send an article through a spinner, but that almost guarantees your page won't ever see the light of day. Instead, you need well-written, informative content with listed quality references. The perfect length seems to be about 500 words or so, and pictures, as always, help a lot. Use only primary references to appear more authoritative.

Out: Endless Affiliates

In: Helpful links only

If another site provides information you think your readers could use, link to that page. Otherwise, stop with the affiliates. Google's new algorithm catches sites with huge affiliate lists and filters them down toward the bottom of the stack. Use social media to advertise your site and gain exposure instead of relying on others' cast-offs.

Out: General Information Sites

In: Authoritative sites

Other than personal blogs, every website must have a niche. No one site can claim to be an authority on interior design, finance, appliance repair and celebrity hi-jinks. Pick a topic and stick with it, and become the go-to site for anyone needing information on that topic. Choose your topic based on high-ranking trends instead of personal interest if you must, but use authoritative references for every fact you write.

Out: Landing Pages

In: Meaty, informative content

When the user clicks onto your page, he wants to see what he's looking for immediately. Don't take him to a list of links, or the only thing he'll click is the "back" button. Google knows this, and so do those page evaluators we talked about. Don't get thrown away as spam.

Basically, SEO in the post-Panda world means you have to step up your game. No more cheating, and no more gaming the system. Your stuff has to be honestly good if you want search engine referrals. End of story. If it sounds like too much work to you (and it's a lot of work), count on running a ghost site because this ship has sailed.