Without too much of a fanfare, Google has been quietly changing the way it decides which websites to boost and demote on its results pages. The change aimed to lower the rank of “low-quality sites” or “thin sites” and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results This lead to an initial surge in the rankings of news websites and social networking sites, and a drop in rankings for sites containing large amounts of advertising. The update is called Google Panda (named after their engineer Navneet Panda) and was refined by human quality testers who rated thousands of websites based on measures of quality, including design, trustworthiness, speed and whether or not they would return to the website. These qualities are now built into Google’s search algorithm and used to decide where to place a website in search results pages.
The Google algorithm is a closely guarded secret, however Google do drop hints and often clearly state what they favour and why. One key issue is links back to your website and their quality:
The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community….It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links.
The last update to Google Panda was in July / August 2012. Those playing the long game of building quality content, updating their website regularly, gaining relevant links from good quality sites and using social media wisely should find their website rise up the search engine rankings.
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