Those in the SEO world know of the infamous Panda update that was implemented in Google in February and March of 2011 and we’ve seen evidence of some updates to the update that have trickled through in the months that followed. The Panda update was a major refinement to how Google looks at content. Before this update Google was big on looking for duplicate content, spammy and poorly written content, but this update took it a step further to essentially seek out users of content farms. Some websites, instead of writing their own content would buy content from a content farm company. This content didn’t fall into any of the criteria they were already looking for as it was well written, grammatically correct, with no spelling errors and was unique enough to avoid the duplicate content issue, but still wrong because it wasn’t their own content. Most sites that used this type of content didn’t care how trustworthy it was and mainly just wanted an avenue to collect Adsense revenue – not offering a quality, trustworthy website.
What happened when the update went through is that it not just affected sites who fit the criteria of content from a content farm, it also hit hard sites with not a lot of content and sites that had poor content but not poor enough to have their rankings affected before. As one example we saw was a transportation client who insisted on having a list of areas they served mixed in with their content, which was not the best written content, was enough to not be hurt by Google’s original poor quality score. I did our best to warn them the content was questionable, but the insisted on leaving it there. The site was growing in the search engines at a nice consistent rate, but once the update went through, sure enough their site dropped into oblivion.
So the lesson to learn from this? If SEO is important than you need to invest time in your content. I recommend the following:
- Don’t skimp on writing good content. Take the time to sit down and not while you are multi-tasking or trying to answer phone calls.
- Be organized. Start by mapping out your pages, from there write the content for each page and also think of what applicable photos can be added to help visually communicate what that content is about.
- Write a good amount of content. One 3 sentence paragraph is not enough and sends a clear message that you just don’t care about your website or don’t have much to say about your products or services.
- Don’t write TOO much content. No one will site on your site to read a novel. Find the right balance of saying what you need to say to promote and sell your product and service without rambling on with a full page of written content.
- Don’t be afraid to hire someone to write for you. Not everyone can write well in their native language and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. I’m terrible at math and I’m the first one to admit it. I’m not ashamed of it, it’s just not my strength. There are copywriters that are affordable and will ensure you have good, well written and thoughtful content, whether they start with your base writing or interview you and write it themselves.
In the end you can’t just write for the search engines. Make sure your passion about your products and services and all the reasons why someone should pick your company over your competitor are poured on to those pages. That will give you great content and the visitors and the search engines will love you.