google panda update impacts
Beware of the Google Panda!
Google’s latest algorithm change has affected businesses around the world – in both a good way and a bad way. But reading the stories by website owners makes me think – is Google Panda really successful in pursuing the ultimate goal: Giving the best possible user-experience? I want to believe it, but just like many others, I doubt it.

Amit Singhal, Google Fellow has recently published a guide on how to build high-quality sites on the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog in an effort to help website owners (who some of them are also business owners) to understand how to work things out their way post-Google Panda update.

Is the official guide helpful in building high-quality sites?

The guide is useful. Following the guide will definitely help you create a wonderful site with useful content for its visitors. However, I come into a conclusion that following the guide will not necessarily help your site to be better in term of search engine ranking. The guide is great for humans, but I don’t understand how Google bots can understand such abstract guide.

The guide – in the form of question – includes whether the information presented in the website is trusted, truthful and useful to site visitors; is the content well-edited; and many more. You see, the guide is very
useful, but again – it’s not necessary that following the guide will get your site to rank better.

One issue I read from the guide that is interesting: Low-quality content can drag the whole site down. Amit suggests that it’s better for you to move, delete, or merge the low-quality content to help you rank better.

One of my sites is hit hard by Google, dropping 200 ranks down for the main keywords after the Google Panda update. I used to publish press releases on the site, and I decided to remove them altogether. The result: My site climbs back up and rank better for the same set of keywords. So, in my case, the suggestion works wonder.

HOWEVER, if you take a closer look on the comments published on this particular blog post on Google Webmaster Central blog, also from the webmaster forum threads I read these days, it seems that most of the comments and opinions are rants or at least statements and questions; all funnel into one issue: Google Panda update raises more questions than answers; in other words, Google Panda update creates more problems than offering solutions to those problems.

Mixed results post-Google Panda update

Some do testify that Google Panda update helps them to rank their business website well. However, many are unhappy with the new Google algorithms.

Some “rants” include small business owners whose small business websites rank lower than big sites, accusing Google to favour big brand names over smaller ones regardless of the quality of the content.

One business owner claims to be an expert in his field and publish quality articles based on his experience. However, Google ranks his article lower than an article from eHow that brings little or no value on the same subject. Many other comments and posts also voice similar concerns. This is not a new problem, as it exists way before Google Panda, but even with the update, the negative impact is even greater after Google Panda update.

Another business owner also mentions that he is losing business because Google keeps content thieves rank better on Google than the original content site – even after the Google Panda update, he loses 45 percent of traffic to his all unique, high quality content business website.

I experience similar issue with Noobpreneur.com. One of our articles is being copied-and-pasted in full without permission, even attribution. Despite the scraped content ranks lower than the original ones, it ranks above our other articles. Fortunately, the owner was cooperative and removed the content right away after I emailed her.

Many business website owners question the following: If Google didn’t fix those issues, then what are actually Google fixing with Google Panda?

So, what to do?

I am not an expert in this, but the best thing Google Panda can offer you is something that will push business websites of all sizes to step up their game, by creating better content that actually useful for your business website visitors – something worth linking to by others.

Google ranks sites with the help of bots. These bots are smart but not as smart as us human – we can somehow understand that a site is high quality or low quality, but bots operate based on rules (algorithms) that are continuously developed (Google plans for about 500 updates to its ranking algorithms in 2011.) That’s why Google incorporates user feedback to help with sites ranking.

All in all, Google Panda controversies will continue. Some benefit from Google Panda update, but some others don’t. It’s probably best for us to focus on our content creation.

I have my doubts; Google Panda is successful in some ways to topple low-quality content off the search result pages, but many genuine, quality business websites are also affected by the updates, impacting the businesses profitability and prospects

Google does deliver traffic and business, but there are many other sources of traffic and business you can tap form, instead of focusing all of your efforts in trying hard to please Google.

How about you? Do you believe Google Panda update is for the best for us small business website owners?

Ivan Widjaya
Google Panda controversies