Even people with little or no interest in technology seem to have heard about ‘Panda’. No, I don’t mean the cute and cuddly bamboo-chewing black and white animal, but rather the seemingly endless updates that pesky search engine Google has been making to its algorithms over the last couple of years.
The label, originating apparently from the name of the lead engineer on the initial algorithm change, strikes fear into the hearts of many businesses, whose search engine rankings, site visits, and in some cases earnings have been dramatically affected by one or more of these algorithm updates. Many have cried foul of the changes, claiming that they have been doing nothing wrong and in many cases only following the rules, but at Matter of Form we beg to disagree.
If you read Google’s guidance for SEO’s, the ﬁrst thing you will notice is that it actually doesn’t amount to very much, and can be basically summed up as: ‘make your site an engaging and interesting source of information on what you do, and don’t try to cheat the search rankings’. The Panda updates have all been speciﬁcally designed to target those ignoring the second half of this guidance, knowingly, or more often that not innocently, cheating rankings by looking for ways to gain more incoming links.
This has involved recognised SEO practices such as writing endless articles and placing them on special article web sites, containing thousands and thousands of articles on any subject from Viagra to industrial machinery, carefully categorised so as to seem relevant, and with links back to web sites dealing with similar subject matter – and read by next to no-one. All Google has done is (quite rightly) marked these sites as irrelevant, but this downgrading has had an immediate and dramatic effect on the thousands of sites that previously beneﬁted from their links.
To be clear, the sites using such techniques weren’t doing anything illegal – if they had been, they would have been banned from Google’s rankings. In fact, they were often simply doing what had worked for the last few years and was thus recommended by SEO’s around the world. To the search engine’s eyes, however, they weren’t focusing on what was important: the creation of interesting, relevant and engaging content that encourages both visits and the natural creation of links from other sites who are literally saying ‘read this, it’s interesting’.
And that’s what we aim to do at MOF, as that’s what we believe constitutes the foundations of digital marketing: providing a regular ﬂow of content relevant and of interest to our clients’ target audience or audiences.