Form over fashion, chicken or the egg, and keywords before content are just some of the intellectual debates that have raged as humankind attempts to come to grips with the big questions that plague our times. While the relative merits of comfort over appearance are well known, the chicken versus egg chronological lineage is still up for debate when people bend their thoughts to more esoteric contemplations. What is not up for debate is the importance of quality content over keywords when it comes to writing engaging online copy that will appear high in search engine results. Indeed, the old days of stuffing a 500-word article with 122 examples of the exact same keyword are long gone thanks to changes made by Google to their search algorithms, which punish the practice of keyword stuffing and rewards content that it perceives to be relevant and helpful to the end user.
Rise of the Machines…
In the “Wild West” of early internet interaction, it was discovered that the search engine rankings could be “gamed” into recognizing, and singling out, websites that practiced the art of keyword stuffing. Simply stated, keyword stuffing is the practice of writing online copy to be read by a machine rather than copy designed to be consumed by a human user.
This old formula was predicated on the notion that search engines scan the internet looking for certain keyword density in response to search inquires. When the engines located articles displaying such keyword density, they posted the results in search rankings for the end-user to consume. Unfortunately, this practice dictates that copy be written for machines rather than humans, and the results rarely offered compelling or helpful information.
Recognition that People Are Using the Machines…
Search engine giant Google sought to change this reality by tweaking their search algorithms in early 2012. Known as a Panda Update, the changes affected nearly 12% of all search inquiries, and the results have transformed the way people write copy on the internet. Under Google’s new protocols, the sure fired methods that drove search rankings in the past, no longer guarantee the lofty heights that they once achieved. In much the same way that you cannot discount the movements of an elephant when you are sleeping together in a twin-sized bed, the shear size of Google has assured that their changes are felt throughout the online search world.
Google based their changes on observations of social media. The propensity to share valuable information on such platforms as FaceBook, Pinterest, and Twitter drove the recognition that the yardstick for high search ratings is quality content rather than the ham-fisted tactic of keyword stuffing.
The Nuts and Bolts of a Panda Attack…
If your site is negatively impacted by a Panda update, you will know almost immediately, and it will manifest itself in the form of dramatic drop in traffic. It is possible to bounce back from a panda hit, but it takes some diligent work and a little time. Google recommends reviewing your site for substandard material as that is the new yardstick in determining high search rankings. Further, it should be noted that quick fixes would not provide a solution:
- Panda is not about back links and anchor texts.
- Tidying up a messy back link profile will not help.
- Reconsideration requests won’t help.
- Recovery will be re-measured once Google rolls out another update.
Webmasters can expect a Panda roll out every four to six weeks on average, and continuously upgrade their sites in the interim to achieve better results. Specifically, they should keep an eye out for content that would draw Panda’s ire:
- Remove material that would probably not be shared by readers.
- Get rid of duplicate material on your site. This might apply to content that has been pilfered from elsewhere on the web, or it could mean pages have been duplicated across your site.
- Scour the site for thin material with an eye towards replacing pages that only have a sentence or two with quality engaging content.
Improved Literary Frontier…
These new rubrics have resulted in a marked improvement of the quality of online copy. While the use of keywords has not been removed, their use is within the framework of a natural, in-depth discussion of the topic that leads to their use in a naturalistic way. As such, copywriters and SEO professionals are scrambling to develop superior copy that represents an improved literary frontier for those looking for quality online information and content.
Written by Danny BenDebba