The following is a guest post by Codrut Turcanu.
For Affiliate marketers and bloggers who want to make money online and are worried about the latest Google Farmer (aka Panda update) changes…
Discover how this ranking algorithm shift affects bloggers and site owners who are trying to make an honest living on the Internet, so you know for sure what to do and what to avoid.
When you understand the rules of the game, your chance to make money online actually increases. Today you can be one step closer to achieving top Google rankings; it is so easy when you know HOW.
If your site or blog depends heavily on Google, then you cannot afford to miss these Google ranking tips. For bloggers and companies that rely heavily on their rankings, positioning in Google’s search results can be a life-or-death issue.
CNN, the Los Angeles Times and other sites wrote on the issue, sharing survey findings, case studies and statistics. My understanding after reviewing this information is that the Google algorithm is not perfect and for a short period might even affect sites that have nothing to do with “content farms” or “spam” at all.
What got my attention though was the SISTRIX VisibilityIndex – an index value calculated from traffic on keywords, ranking and click-through rate on specific ranking positions.
Their data show how sites such EzineArticles, HubPages, Mahalo, AssociatedContent and many others were losing up to 80% of their Google traffic rankings & keywords after the Panda update.
If 80%+ of your traffic is coming from Google, and this update cuts your traffic into half, then this would be a problem, right? But if you rely on less than 30% of your traffic from Google (like most affiliate/bloggers do), then perhaps things aren’t so bad– and there’s something you could do to maintain and raise your Google rankings.
Google Farmer (Panda) Tip #1
Build High-Quality Sites and Get Rewarded
In their quest to find high-quality sites, the Panda update was a major ranking-algorithmic improvement, a change impacting 11.8% of the queries as stated on the official Google blog:
“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”
What does a high-quality site mean? Google gives us some insights:
A high-quality site consists of original content and information (e.g. research, in depth reports, etc.) What Google requires is nothing new. And to be honest, I have always emphasized that new and veteran bloggers should start with (and continue) writing unique articles and avoid scraping content. That’s smart business and it reflects how much you care about your visitors.
Original content exposed:
Whenever people hear “original content” they think they need to write on topics that have not been covered yet, but that’s not always true, unless you are talking about a brand-new technology, book release or money-making opportunity.
Google and your readers are actually looking for two key elements:
1. They want you to share what’s new and what’s hot in your niche (read books & magazines, write product reviews, get the scoop on your industry, analyze the latest trends, be the first to publish your findings)
2. They prefer you share your unique perspective on red-hot topics and content people want to read, not what you think they want to read (that’s what “original” content is.)
A good starting point to finding what people want to read or buy is to check out Google Adword’s free keyword research tool. It enables you see exactly what key terms and phrases real people are using to find your site and related information.
Google Farmer (Panda) Tip #2
Make Friends with Google or Die
Up to 40% (and growing) of my traffic comes from Google, and I just started to optimize by blog content and posts proactively. I guess I got away with other stuff. Anyway, today is the day to make friends with Google. They’re depending on people like you and me to create content that helps others, not waste their time and energy.
“Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.”
Years ago I jealously looked at Google and how they sent a ton of traffic to my competitors’ blogs. Instead, now I “team up” with my (indirect) competitors to: run interviews, exchange or publish content (in form of guest posts) and write product reviews. Original content Google loves.
The question is: are you still doing what you’ve always did hoping to get better results? It won’t work. Shift your strategy: turn “me-too” content into remarkable. Think long-term.
I am positive this update (and many others to come) will not only scare lazy bloggers, spammers and “black hat” site optimizers, but enforce them to think “creatively”. It helps push our limits to deliver awesome content and out-smart ourselves more often.
Put yourself into the shoes of your readers and potential customers…
You are your best customer. You want to find exactly what you’re looking for (quickly)! Two clicks of a mouse, if possible. You and I are both sick and tired of browsing a ton of listing pages, landing on the wrong sites that have nothing to do with what we’re searching for and containing nothing but blocks of ads and irrelevant content/links.
Matt Cutts (Google’s anti-spam team leader) says it best:
“Our primary goal is to make sure we return the best websites we can”
Google not only wants your site to rank and succeed but also convert as many views into clicks. Just recently they created a software add-on for the Chrome browser, enabling their users to block sites they don’t like or find (totally) irrelevant.
You can tell that Google now has a bird-eye view on what real people like finding on sites of their interest and what they think about bad sites or content farms. Cutts says that about 84% of those reported sites where affected by the Panda update. No matter how often the Google algorithm improves, there will always be people trying to game the system and change the search results for their own benefit.
Nowadays you are required to step up and change your site’s content to the benefit of Google’s users and for the interest of your readers. The future of your business relies on making users and visitors happy, not on SEO tricks or irrelevant back-links.
Stop going with the herd and do what works. Make friends with Google or competition will eat you.
Google Farmer (Panda) Tip #3
Play the WIN-WIN-WIN Game
We now know what Google wants. But what does your reader really want?
Consider your reader as your main target audience. Someone you can identify as a person with specific needs, wants and challenges; someone representing the vast majority of your website’s visitors and potential customers.
For example: you and I both want to find the best products to buy online, the best information on our subject of interest; or, maybe we need to solve a major issue as fast as possible. We have no time to waste. When we reach a site we like, then we want “instant” access to whatever it is we’re looking for – no tricks, no gimmicks.
We are not really interested to browse a dozen or so pages. No lists to join. No hoops. Just what we’re looking for, nothing more, nothing less!
Your readers are no different. Most of them prefer a clean layout, fast loading site, and quick access to links and articles of their interest. Ads and other irrelevant content is just a distraction, sure to leave them with a bad taste in their mouth.
Do you think if you help your readers find what they’re looking for, they will visit your site a second time and probably return often?
You bet. Don’t get me wrong. I am still a big believer in capturing your visitors’ email address and following-up with amazing content and emails of interest. I still use squeeze pages nowadays and will continue so for many years to come. However, Google’s recent changes help us understand the “secret” to visitor conversion and why it is KEY to aim for a high visitor-return ratio, and a low bounce rate.
We can trick visitors to leave their email once, but we cannot get them to come back a second time if our content sucks or is irrelevant to their personal wants, needs and challenges.
That’s why whenever I write an article, blog post or email, I make sure to perform in depth keyword research, competitive analysis and relevant content digging. This way I know for sure what problems, wants and needs to focus on in order to help the reader get what they crave for.
I don’t guess. In fact, I invest a minimum of 3 hours, even if I have to write a short email or whatever – that’s how important RESEARCH is to me.
Here are a few quick tweaks you could perform on your site/blog to please visitors and get them return often:
- Add relevant content in your sidebar like for e.g. latest articles/posts, related content links.
- Remove the clutter (things that you think are cool, but mean nothing for your visitor like a calendars, traffic-stats boasting widgets, screaming ads).
- Embed your Adsense ads somewhere in the middle of your content and/or at the bottom (it might get you less clicks, but your content will rank higher on the page and visitors will like that and stick longer)
The Google Panda algorithm change affects low-quality sites and blogs that are full of ads and irrelevant information rather then the helpful content that your visitors are looking for. I prefer this ratio: 80% relevant, red-hot, useful content and 20% ads or affiliate links. What about you?
Codrut Turcanu (the most productive Internet Marketing copywriter) shares free affiliate marketing tips and product review templates on his super affiliate marketing blog to help affiliates looking for the best ways to earn money online.