Google Algorithm

Panda 4.0: Should Small Businesses Take a Sigh of Relief or Run for Cover?

Should Small Businesses be Cheering or Bracing Themselves?

Panda 4.0 has been a hot topic the past couple of days and many small businesses are holding on for dear life. From everything we’ve been hearing, this new update is supposed to be softer and theoretically “friendlier” than past updates. Previously, Panda targeted spammy, Black-hat, content farming websites to which many innocent, by the book sites were inadvertently caught in. Thus, causing a massive uproar and small businesses to take a hit. Many are eager to find out if the tables will be turning and whether or not it’s the big guys’ turn to experience a decrease in rankings and web traffic. For the new Panda 4.0 update, here’s what we know..

Small businesses can remain hopeful that the new Panda 4.0 update will not harm those with high quality, White-hat content. The shifted focus is now on content-driven websites that deliver useful, relevant information for users. It may be smart to ask yourself if you provide quality, useful content for your users. If not, there’s no time like the present. E-commerce be aware, we already know that Panda dislikes thin content websites or content that is copied from the manufactures’ web catalogs. Best way to stay off their radar is to produce your own original content.

 Here is a quick check list to review:

  • Make sure you provide high quality, useful content for users
  • Users like spacious layouts, with plenty of white space, Panda too!
  • Avoid duplicate content (web content and metas)
  • Reduce ads on the website
  • Improve loading speed!
  • Link out to trusted authoritative sources with high quality content
  • Avoid poison words (e.g. any words that trigger suspicion, mistrust, and loss of respect)

Going through your site meticulously with a magnifying glass is always a good idea when faced with any new algorithm changes, but not just then. Maintaining your website and setting the bar high is something everyone will have to consider. While quality content now trumps spammy links, the unfortunate side to this is it may now be more difficult for businesses to determine their sources for improvement. Previously, it was pretty much spelled out for webmasters on what to do if faced with a penalty. Now, web optimization is up against a possible hazy path for top rankings. While hopes may be high, it will be important to keep in mind it is still an algorithm with a vast amount of calculations that factor into it. Now more than ever, it will continue to be to your benefit to harness social sharing. Google could take this into account and it’s definitely a confirmed indirect factor.

For particular searches, bigger is not always better and not always what the searcher is looking for, yet this is what we get when we search some terms. For example: If I am an avid sewer and want to search “handmade quilts”, your average giant names like Ebay, Etsy, Pinterest, show, leaving smaller and just as hard-working businesses out to dry. This is simply how it has been for a long time now and the hope (cross your fingers) is that Panda 4.0 and any future updates will turn that corner and even the playing field.

If you are thinking that it’s impossible keeping up with these large companies and how unfair it is that they never seem to take a hit; enter Ebay. SEO news sites have been running rampant reporting on the serious hit Ebay’s rankings have taken due to the recent algorithm changes. Let it serve as a lesson for the little guys that targeting every word and neglecting to follow basic SEO principles (like not using negative keywords) will eventually catch up to you. Yet again, another instance where more is not more and can really hurt your business.