Google Panda and What It Means for Bloggers and Internet Marketers

by John Hoff on March 11, 2012

If you’re at all into SEO, I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the “Google Panda Updates.”

But what does this all mean for bloggers and also Internet Marketers? Will Panda affect you and your blog? What do you need to know to stay clear of a Panda attack?

Understanding the Basics of Panda

The whole idea of Google Panda is to make the best experience possible for Google users. To do that, Google wants to serve up only the best and most reliable content to the user as quick as possible, which typically means the best and most useful results are first. Obviously, this means they need to do a really good job at determining which web pages (and sites) have both relevant and reliable content (as I have previously noted here.

But that’s not enough if you want to survive a panda encounter…

Your content has to read well and be more than just reliable, it needs to be useful to people.

Also, the writing is all over the wall when it comes to social media and SEO. Not only has Google said they are now using social media as heavy indicators to a site’s reliability/credibility, but Facebook pages are now appearing in search and Google has launched a HUGE social media style corner on the web which you may of heard of, Google Plus.

So how do you give Panda a hug?

Concentrate on the user’s experience.

The site you create or the article you write ideally should be so awesome that people would want to share it with others online (FB share or Like, Tweet, Pin It, etc.). This really is nothing new. It’s what Google has been after since they first started their search engine, they are just getting better every day at figuring out which sites online are these kinds of sites (and articles).

Your site should also be structured well and be easy to navigate, once again concentrating on the user’s experience and not your money making plans. Yes you can have a plan to make money, just make sure the user comes first.

Good Site Structure

Some basic ideas on what makes up a well structured site include sites which have:

  • Home, About Us, Privacy, Contact, and Disclaimer pages
  • Categories for articles
  • More than just one page, especially if it’s just a landing/sales page
  • Logically designed for the user experience

On Target Onsite SEO

From what many SEO testers and experts are saying, Google is putting less weight on anchor text used for backlinks and more weight on onsite SEO factors and usefulness of content. I don’t know how Google’s algorithm can figure out if your content is rock solid and kicks ass, but it appears to know how so I just go with it.

Stay away from keyword stuffing and all that crap. Just optimize your onsite SEO as best you can and make it all look natural.

Panda and Bloggers

I think most people who blog and really care about what they are blogging about won’t have to worry much about Panda deindexing or penalizing their blog. The exception to that might be if you do a TON of reviews and have a number of affiliate links on your site. If that’s the case, be cautiously aware that Google wants to see your blog more for the user rather than for your making money for myself plan.

Trust me, I tested this once with my Nevada incorporations website and had it filled with both useful content and also a lot of affiliate links (like maybe links to 20 products or so).

The result was my site got deindexed from Google… or at least was not in the top 100 pages for any of the search terms I was ranking for. My analytics graph looked like a cliff dive in just one day.

I fixed it by simply removing 98% of the affiliate links (and did no other SEO to the site) and it has since regained its search engine placement. In fact, it ranks #1 for the “different types of corporations” and #4 for “types of corporations”, which is pretty big. If I can get it to rank for “asset protection”, my plans are to flip it for some $$, but that’s another topic all together.

The moral of that story is to watch out how many affiliate links you are sticking on your blog. As always, I recommend using the rel=”nofollow” tag on all your affiliate links.

Panda and Internet Marketing

There’s a huge difference, in my eyes, between being a regular blogger and an Internet Marketer who is looking to make a full time income online.

I’m sort of both, which is why my blog posting frequency sucks. I know some bloggers/IMs can do it all, but I don’t have a huge passion for writing when I really don’t have something to say for which I’m not passionate about. When I do, like this topic here, I love to write and express myself… in fact it’s hard to get me to shut up.

But my real passion is in researching online and finding little corners on the web where I can brainstorm ideas on how to make money in that niche and then put my team together to work the plan. That to me is fun and rewarding (both personally and monetarily).

The difference between a blogger and full time Internet Marketer

Put simply, a full time Internet Marketer plots and plans out how they are going to make money online, just like how a real estate investor plans out how to find investment properties, how much money they will need to invest, and determine their ROI. And then of course, they work the plan.

Though I’ve done no study, I highly doubt bloggers who might be thinking they are pursuing making a full time income online but really aren’t (through their actions) are actually working the plan the way full time Internet Marketers do.

There are lots of ways to be a blogger and Internet Marketer, for me, I build mini niche authority sites aside from my blog here.

This poses a few issues with my Internet Marketing style and Google Panda.

I own somewhere around 40 domains and have or am building them to be mini authority sites. I simply can’t run and manage 40, 60… 200 social media accounts and spend hundreds of hours building my “personal” authority in a niche. That’s like telling the real estate investor that they have to work every aspect of their business themselves (paint, deal with tenants, find properties, taxes, education, etc.).

I also have to look at ways to build backlinks and social media chatter about the sites as well. That’s easy to do if you just own a blog, but if you own 100 websites, you have to start thinking in other ways… like outsourcing.

This is kind of like sailing in rough waters with Google. It’s not impossible, but more difficult to do. I suspect (and I say “suspect” because this whole Panda thing is still relatively new) that as long as you keep your focus on the user and also keep in mind what Google is wanting from you, you should be good. The trick of course is figuring out what works best and is the most efficient way.

Niche Internet Marketing and Ranking Websites

In the days before my IM journey began, it was much easier to rank niche websites. You could go out and find exact match domain names and run a SEnuke and ScrapeBox campaign and see your first page rankings come in.

Google is getting smarter every day and they aren’t telling us everything they know and do. Gone are the days of simply scraping content and creating tens of thousands of low quality and irrelevant backlinks to help rank your site and in are the days of actually doing a little more work to make money (thank goodness).

Well, almost gone are they…

There’s a lot of buzz going around about how exact match domain names are not as easily ranked as they use to be. Since my real drive in niche marketing has only begun over the last year or so, it’s hard for me to give you my “past” experience, but what I can say is how my exact match domain names are ranking now based off of the name alone.

It really boils down to competition, but for the most part exact match domain names are helpful, but not super important.

An Example Site I Created and Exact Match Domain Names

As an example, I just set up a site for my wife called Zulily Reviews. It’s not 100% finished yet but after researching the competition I found that the average PageRank on the first page of Google was super low (which means it should be easy to rank for).

Here’s how easy it was to get that site ranked on the first page of Google.

After registering the exact match domain name for my given keyword, I immediately set up a basic text only HTML document with an optimized Title tag, description tag, and one h1 tag. I wrote one sentence stating what Zulily is and one sentence stating the site will be live real soon.

That’s it. No graphics… nothing.

A couple days later I noticed it was ranked #10 for the keyword. I had not done any backlinking, social bookmarking… nothing. The site ranked based solely on its domain name and optimized onsite tags. That’s it.

Again though, the competition is super low, so this probably wouldn’t of happened had the competing web pages had stronger PageRank.

One thing to note if you’re on the first page for your given keyword term. I’ve heard that Google has human reviewers who review some of the 1st page listing to make sure they are quality stuff. Obviously the temporary site I put up for Zulily was not “quality” or reliable, so it’s best if you do this to quickly fix up your site or article fast because once you lose that first page listing, it’s harder to get back there.

If you’re an Internet Marketer and have been doing some testing, I’d love to hear some of your results. I’m doing a lot of testing myself and will be publishing very soon (in my newsletter) what services I’m using and what’s working for me and what’s not. I’ll also mention what is working now but I fear won’t be soon.

Your turn.

Have you been testing SEO? What’s working for you? When Google said recently that they “are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years”, what do you think they were referring to? Anchor text? Nofollow?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith Davis March 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Hi John
Great info as usual – appreciate you sharing it.

“Have you been testing SEO? What’s working for you?”

I finished an affiliate link page on Saturday and wanted it to rank for…

“inspyr genesis child theme”

Today… I’m #1!

Used to take weeks to even get on the first page.

Google is so much faster at caching and ranking pages and… Google reads your twitter feed.

The thing about the page I’ve mentioned, I’ve not filled in any of the SEO info yet!!!!

Beats me but I’m not complaining.

Reply

John Hoff March 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Hi Keith.
I went ahead and checked out what might of happened. If I had to guess, I’d say there’s a couple main things which got you there so fast. But I did notice that you have some onsite SEO set up, for example the title tag and URL.

From my experience, I think the key factors to you ranking so fast include:

- top 10 pages on Google only have an average of .6 PageRank. That’s super low and should be easy to compete in.

- If you do a phrase search for your term, there’s only 4 returned results

- Other sites you are competing with are pretty much copy and pastes of each others content. Yours is actually written and some what thought out.

For a phrase search on my end you are number 1, but without using the quotes your site comes up number 4. I bet with a little more great content, a few more backlinks, and social bookmarks you’d be either number 1 or 2 very easily.

Nice work. Don’t you love it when Google “likes” your stuff?

Reply

John Hoff March 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Oh yeah, and I’ll head over and do some bookmarking ;-) Thanks for sharing mine!

Reply

Keith Davis March 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hi John
“Nice work. Don’t you love it when Google “likes” your stuff?”

I always see it as a battle to get up there – we men love a battle. LOL

Does show that, for some phrases, it is fairly easy to get in the top 5.

Thanks for going over and taking a look.

Reply

Keith Davis March 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm

John I meant to add that I’m starting to earn a few hundred dollars via my affiliate marketing, but still slow going.

Would appreciate any thoughts you have on improvements or anything you spot, when you pay me a visit.

Reply

John Hoff March 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hi Keith,

Congrats on the affiliate commissions. I know when things start happening, it lights that spark.

Obviously I can’t do a full website review here, but you know me… I’m looking for an optin and I don’t see one (newsletter). I love how David does his home page. To be honest though, he’s mentioned it doesn’t convert as well as optins on his articles. Your optin giveaway could be maybe a special discount with some theme, tutorials on optimizing your themes, or some ebook. I like mini courses best, though.

Also on the home page I’m not sure what WM is suppose to mean right away, maybe make the clearer and instead of stating in big emphasis words what you do, maybe show a graphic of “going up in Google’s search” or something. In other words, showcase an image that immediately shows your visitor what they can expect from you and your site.

As far as affiliate commissions go, just remember that’s it’s easier to sell to people who already bought and trust you than continually finding new customers.

But…

The real thing to do is test test test.

Reply

Keith Davis March 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

Wow!
That’s another one I owe you John – fabulous overview.

It’s difficult to review your own site, you get a little blinkered because it’s your creation.

Thanks John.

Reply

Dennis O'Brien March 14, 2012 at 3:34 am

Gidday John…that youngun of yours should be biting your nose by now :)

Great article as usual. I get the feeling from a lot of people that they think the whole Panda idea was just to scare us. Mostly because they have a following that keeps growing so I guess it depends a lot on a few factors. Like how many niche sites a person is running.

I notice 40 or so changes in February that have somehow slipped under the radar for most people and not sure how the affect sites overall. http://insidesearch.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/search-quality-highlights-40-changes.html

Sure we’ll hear more if there that important. I’ll keep an eye out for your video’s John.

Dennis

Reply

John Hoff March 14, 2012 at 9:48 am

Thanks Dennis. Yeah I think that update has been coined, Panda 3.0 or something. I could see how some people might think it was just to scare us, but I certainly can say that isn’t so. Most bloggers aren’t IMs who own a ton of websites and have to outsource while also keeping an eye on your pocketbook.

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