This article is contributed by Angelita Williams.
At the end of last month, Google released yet another Panda update which, according to Google’s blog, focused on the continuing improvement of systems such as “related searches, sitelinks, autocomplete, UI elements, indexing, synonyms, SafeSearch, and more. Each individual change is subtle and important, and over time they add up to a radically improved search engine.”
But while Google is celebrating their advance in search engine capability, business owners and online marketers groan – because Google’s update means more modifications to their sites to keep up with the new Panda algorithm.
It is unlikely Google will cease tinkering with the Panda algorithm. Their business is to make Internet searching easier and more intuitive for users, so as a online business owner or marketer, you should expect more changes in the future.
And though it might seem frustrating to always be scrambling in the wake of each new Panda update, there are measures you can take to anticipate the next set of updates. If you’re tired of always reacting, make the following changes to your site now to minimize the work you have to do later:
1. Take inventory of your backlinks. As you surely know, backlinks are one of the few important kinds of Internet traffic currency. With high-quality backlinks, you can buy your way to the top of Google’s search results; but low-quality backlinks will leave you broke. The name of the game is quality, not necessarily quantity, so always be sure to stay clear of the common but potentially harmful “5,000 backlinks for $5” offers on the web.
The trend has been that Panda punishes shameless backlink manipulation, so focus instead on writing or publishing material that viewers will want to link to on their sites.
2. Gain popularity in social media. It’s no news that Google uses social media trends as benchmarks for search rankings. In fact, Matt Cutts, a Google spokesperson, said last year that Twitter links and Facebook sharing would act as “a ranking factor influencing where sites fall on its results pages.”
So establish your presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr — wherever people are congregating and sharing online. Make sure you are most active on the channel that your followers use most often. If they’re on Tumblr more than Facebook, for example, then direct your efforts accordingly. Half an hour a day spent on social media sites, sharing and interacting, is half an hour very well spent.
3. Streamline your website structure. Good design has a twofold purpose: first, it draws viewers in and makes navigating the site easy; second, it actually improves your sites ranking in search results. And while design is largely a question of aesthetics, it is also a question of functionality. Your site design should be “shallow,” meaning that every page should be accessible in three clicks or less. Designing your site with this design functionality in mind will optimize your site for a search engine crawl.
4. Don’t rely on Google alone. It is important to optimize your site for Google’s algorithms, but if you don’t take into account other important factors, your site’s ranking will be drastically affected every time Google releases a Panda update.
The best approach is to divide your SEO efforts across several different channels. Use Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, backlinks, add sharing buttons on your site — in other words, diversify.
5. Keep producing great content. It is impossible to know every single factor that Google takes into consideration when updating Panda for search engine ranking rules, but, as the 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey reported, the “analysis of a site’s perceived value to users” consistently is the most important factor.
Your content is what most directly influences your site’s perceived value, so make your content valuable, informative, funny, important to your readers.
All this said, it never hurts to stay current on Google’s update plans, which you can read on their blog. Taking a preparatory stance keeps you from having to always react to Google’s updates and will keep driving traffic to your site no matter how the algorithms change.
This content was originally published here.