6 Tips to Produce Winning Content Post-Panda

Google’s Panda algorithm update, which first took effect in February 2011, fundamentally changed the way it recognises and ranks content. Instead of relying purely on SEO signals such as keywords and inbound links – the algorithm now includes a complex set of criteria (including social signals) that attempt to better identify “high-quality” content.

To rank – in a post-Panda world, site owners need to re-access the content on their sites to meet Google’s new and improved guidelines. Here are six tips you can use to produce winning content post-Panda.

1. Write content aimed at readers, not bots

Google can tell when content is keyword-stuffed, and now -more than ever- penalises such spammy tactics. Publish only well written and unique sharable content that fully answers readers’ questions (search queries)… and forget about old school SEO tactics such as repeating the same keywords every 100 words.

2. Banish short content

Google now prefers longer, more in-depth articles of 500 to 700 words. Post Panda, Google is also trending toward answering simple, short queries directly on its own search page, so readers won’t need to click further. Don’t pad content gratuitously, but make sure any article covers the subject in as much detail as possible.

3. Beware of repetitive content

If you have similar articles targeting similar sets of keywords, consider keeping the best-performing articles and deleting/redirecting the rest. Also consider consolidating shorter articles into one article under the best-performing URL. Google now views repetitive content very negatively, and penalises sites accordingly.

4. Focus on obtaining high-quality back links

Google is getting better at recognising spam or paid back links.  Post-Panada, your rankings will suffer significantly if you have a spammy backlink profile.  Guest blogging for inbound is a good tactic for gaining one way backlinks, but make sure your guest posts represent useful, unique content. Also, look for links only from sites with similar themes to yours

5. Consider paring down your ad blocks

Yes, the ads most likely pay your bills. However, one of Google’s main targets in the Panda update are spammy-looking “made for Adsense” sites that contain more advertising than content. The Panda algorithm penalises sites that have too many ads; in fact, you may find you get more traffic (and consequently, more ad clicks) with better content and fewer ads.

6. Watch out for copy scraping and plagiarism

Guarding your website from scrapers is arguably less important than producing great content. However, some websites did report major Panda repercussions resulting from widespread plagiarism of their content. If your site has historically been a target of scrapers, now is as good a time as any to deal with this problem.

In a Nutshell…

Google’s Panda algorithm has further forced webmasters to provide quality content rather than game the engine. If you focus your efforts on providing a positive user experience, useful and targeted content and a well-designed site that’s not laden with ads, you will have a better chance at SEO success in a post-Panda world.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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