Google Panda applies an “audience-oriented approach” to reposition Websites within the context of search results: quality content, visitor’s behavioral factors, and social reputation are taken into account

The algorithm known as Google Panda, is a kind of filter which was formally implemented in February 2011.

The main purpose of this algorithm is to improve the quality of Web search results by conferring a sort of privilege upon Websites that consistently provide quality content. Certain audience behavioral factors are also taken into account in order to rank Websites in search results. As a result of the adoption of Google Panda, Web sites that consistently feature poor content, e.g., those “made for ads”, (so called MFA sites), which are specifically designed to abuse or otherwise “game” optimization tools to get the top search positions and thereby monetize their traffic, were effectively penalized and lost in their preferred positioning via search results.

At the same time the “audience-oriented” websites which optimized around Internet users interests and behavioral factors benefit from Google Panda implementation and often gain benefit through higher page rankings in search results.

Google Panda: Behavioral factors – “Audience-oriented” content

Regardless of how other components of the website are optimized (structure, concept and external optimization (backlinks), the main quality parameter of Internet searches is driven by content. The content in question ought to meet the expectations of visitors in order to make them want to stay on the site and equally importantly make such visitors want to return to the site multiple times: original, quality, informative articles, entertaining videos or audio, or any other type of content that matches the expectations of the target audience can serve this purpose. In short, the content of one’s site is expected to be "audience-oriented" or "visitor-oriented".

When creating a site, one ought to think carefully about how best to provide the right information at the right place at the right moment. This means that one ought to think first of all about what subjects will be of greatest interest to your target audience, as the “satisfaction” of the target audience has become arguably THE key factor defining Website ranking.

Google Panda: Behavioral factors - “Reputation” and “Credibility” as determinants of website rankings

The underlying metrics (assumptions) behind Google Panda measure what can be termed the awareness (e-reputation) and credibility of a given website. Through the diversity and quality of your traffic, the algorithm is designed to analyze the interests of Internet users towards your site: How many pages are viewed by a visitor? Are there visitors from around the world?  Does your Website has direct visitors? If users visit 2, 3 or 4 pages or more, it improves the metric but if they visit only 1 particular page this fact could have a negative impact on reputation and credibility. Through the diversity and quality of inter-links, the algorithm is also designed to analyze the credibility of your site as a function of whether the site is referenced by professionals in your field, or simply only the catalogs, or whether the site has many external links in social networks. Google Panda also weighs the “quality” of links to your site, the number of pages visited, and time spent on the page (and site) by the user. It will measure the number of visitors that bookmark your page in favorites, and the visitors sharing your page information with their entourage in social networks. Google Panda will compare such results with those of your competitors and re-position the site accordingly in terms of one’s page ranking.

Google Panda: What are the critical success factors associated with a “quality site”?

On various blogs and in occasional advice columns for Web masters, Google often offers guidance concerning the kinds of of quantitative and qualitative measures that define the "quality site". Google’s Panda is actually a set of "user-oriented" analytical tools: the algorithm measures Website reputation and credibility that, in turn, the Internet user attempts to leverage as a means to qualify (rank) a Website.

The level of “awareness” is measured on the basis of the relative quality information provided by Website. The algorithm analyses whether, for example, articles are written by experts in a certain field, the degree to which a person is familiar with a given subject, or it gives only superficial information. Does the Website provide us with value-added information? Other considerations might include: whether the articles offer in-depth expertise, some research, analysis and original reporting? Whether the communication style is appealing? Does it encourage visitors to return to the site? The reasoning behind such an approach is simple: if a Website provides reliable information that meet the interests of particular Internet users, over time, it becomes recognized by its surroundings and its audience. Consequently such a Website receives more visits and more shared links from social networks (Google + Twitter, Facebook) then others in the same field.

Analysis of “credibility” deals with the presence in such pages as legal information, general terms and conditions, contact page or certification (for example, a certificate of secure payment online ).

Quality editorial content can be viewed as a sign of quality (attention to the use of points, commas, spaces, etc.). The content value is also analyzed in terms of the number of words used to convey information. This parameter is variable, and will depend on website type, on competition to face in the sector, and on attention to position Website in the top of Web search result. One can imagine that 200 words might be sufficient for a “product introduction”, but in case of a thematic article, it seems difficult (even impossible) to cover a specific subject with only 200 words. Consequently, 'thematic' pages are best presented when constructed in one long article rather than say a few paragraphs.

Google’s Panda algorithm also includes an audit feature that is designed to detect the abusive use of SEO techniques for generating traffic and improving site ranking in search results. It analysis titles (to detect whether the majority of them correspond, for example, to the most popular queries associated with a particular class of search), presence of pages that are on a similar topic with slight variations in key words, the domain name (whether it contains raw of keywords or it is the name of your brand).  

Through its analysis, the algorithm provides the weight ratio between the content of the page and placed advertising: this is not to remove all the ads on one’s pages, but to ensure that the location and quality of advertising does not represent a barrier to access the site's content. Accordingly, it ought to be taken as a given that content should invariably exceed the amount of advertising built into a page.

Content Optimization with Google Panda

As a practical matter, within the Google framework, pages of low quality will negatively impact the entire site and its classification. If Google’s Panda analysis is based on behavioral data of Internet users such as a bounce rate, number of pages per visit, it seems logical to perform an audit to determine which pages are less attractive to visitors and make an adjustment. Audit tools (Google Analytics) allow us to do this type of analysis and determine the least popular pages, and then either replace ,edit, upgrade, delete them completely or preclude their indexing.

In summary, (assuming your site is well structured), work on the quality of content will mean to:

- Remove duplicate content;

- Recompose (or merge) short articles;

- Remove obsolete articles;

- Optimize the ratio between the text and links;

- Remove obsolete links;

- Rework meaningless titles;

- Rework the texts in quantitative and qualitative way;

- Moderate the content if the site is collaborative;

- Comply with the density of keywords and semantic markup (while avoiding the temptation to “over-optimize”);

- Optimize the ratio between the text and html code - Optimize the ratio between advertising and content.

To enhance the reputation and credibility of the site, be sure to include:

- Page 404;

- Contact page;

- Imprint;

- Terms and Conditions of use;

- Terms and Conditions of sales (for Web site selling online);

- Certification (SSL for secure online payment).

And consistently strive to improve the quality and quantity of back links and participate proactively in the social Web (Social networks). In conclusion, Google Panda does not change the basic “rules-of-the-game” to be well positioned in search engines, but it places renewed emphasis more than ever before on the originality, expertise, "user-oriented"content, and participation in "social" the web (social networks).

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