Panda Proficiency

Google’s Panda updates have been a source of confusion, stress and all around business changing ideas. The entire process Google is seeking to attain is very logical and helpful to their customers… I agree completely. Today I want to go over some old techniques which have new meaning and focus for your overall SEO process. A lot is going to change,  if you intend to be around next year, you will have to change some things as well…. Starting with the way you think.

Ages ago in the SEO business we frequently used a term called “link bait”.  This term is a simplified way to say the content on the page is so good/needed/fun/exciting etc that people want to link to it naturally. This is actually a concept that I have embraced since day 1. I aim with every keystroke to create content you will want to share. I am not always as successful as I would like, but most times am quite successful. The very anatomy of creating link bait is exactly what Panda is looking for in their signals.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my content personable?
  • Is my content funny, exciting, important?
  • Are people engaged when they read my content?
  • Is my content structured to be  easy to scan, read and follow?
  • Is my content directed at the reader specifically?

These types of questions will help you to understand what people and Google wants, as well as creating a more effective content delivery structure. For ecommerce, these items are a bit more challenging. Sure, we can build everyone a blog to deliver higher quality content, but those lousy pages will still bring down the whole site. This is exactly why you need a new thought process to implement the changes needed for Panda.

Blogging is obviously an easy way to deliver compelling content to your readers, build authority and create great link bait… But what about those booooring product pages?

Product pages are at a disadvantage to begin with. Let’s face it, we need the specs, numbers and all the boring data that goes with the product. However, no where is it written that’s all you need! What about your own experiences with the product? Innovative uses and information? This is the type of information that Google is looking for.

I always tell shop owners to create product descriptions in a natural language using the same words that they would use to “sell” this product on the phone to a shopper. The reasoning for this is quite logical.

  • If you cannot see me I am at nearly the same disadvantage as your website
  • I will use descriptive words that you know and recognize to convey my sales pitch.. they are probably the same words you are searching for =)
  • I will tell you my own experiences, similar products or better options
  • I will talk to you… Not at you

This really makes it easy to see why I have said this… and why Google wants you to create personable and compelling content. I think that the ecommerce masses are just too lazy to approach each product page the way they would a face to face sale. For those of you who fall in this category… Sorry I can’t help you. Those of you who want to create a great user experience on your website… C’mon in, we can help you.

Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz has created a “Whiteboard Friday” video that every single one of you should watch. Rand has a unique way of explaining things in a easy to follow manner and this video will help you help yourself.


I have always noticed when I blog that the more personable and sometimes passionate way I present a topic... the more visits. For example, and I am not suggesting you do this for your own website, but If I swear in a blog post... It will have 2x more traffic that average! Damn crazy huh? The reason is actually pretty simple. When I write, especially when I am fired up, it is very passionate... People are engaged. This is the goal right?

I think each of you should set a plan to do the following:

  • Fire your SEO content writer. Write for yourself or even use customer provided information... How about hiring a regular "joe" from your niche to write for you? I bet he's even cheaper!
  • Set a goal to rewrite x amount of product pages a week. Don't do hundreds a week, we don't want you to tank in search results because of the flux you create by changing so much at once.
  • Seek out and destroy crappy pages on your website. To hell with blocking them, unless they are absolutely required get rid of them. Not good enough for Google, then not good enough for your shoppers.
  • Ask 10 friends to shop on your website and give you their thoughts about trust, usability, navigation, presentation and WOW. Then listen to what they have to say... Do not make a bunch of bullshit excuses as to why you know better than them!

Doing these things in a controlled manner will begin to resolve your Panda issues and build your freshness, authority and other ranking metrics right along side. How often do you get a win win? So, yes, it's hard work.... But it's inexpensive and easy to do.