Content, Creativity, Image and Imagination

How To Survive a Panda Attack – 5 Creative Content SEO Strategies

Google has introduced a number of updates that have significantly altered its search engine results page. The Panda updates – named after Google engineer Navneet Panda – are part of Google’s continuing effort to weed out the influence of low-quality sites that are packed with SEO keywords (and ads) but little worthwhile content. A useful step but changing the rules for search engine rankings can cause companies to panic. Suddenly every website needs to protect itself from a cute, overweight, vegetarian bear. Growl.

Content farming sites are – those junkyards of cheap content – are the principle targets of Panda. But there’s collateral damage from Google’s algorithm alterations. The new math means lost money for a lot of companies that rely on search traffic.

Bing and other search engines are also placing more emphasis on the quality of user experience. What matters to companies like Google and Microsoft (here’s a shocker) is that we pay more attention to our virtual experiences than our actual ones. A web littered with worthless sites with unimaginative content hardly inspires devotion. Panda is part of Google’s efforts to turn every search into a search party – an entertaining and socially desirable event. Someone get this Panda a cocktail.

Make your site stand-out with creative content. Here’s 5 useful ideas to keep in mind when considering your SEO strategy –

1. Make it beautiful

Panda is turning Google into more of a beauty pageant judge. Panda’s machine-learning algorithms are able to essentially rate sites as “hot or not”. Google rates the usability and utility of a site – whether the site architecture and navigation is intuitive and feels fluid. Visitors rush for the exit if a site feels clumsy or too chaotic and Google notes their hasty retreat.

The visual design of a site – while not rated individually – is factored into algorithms through a sub-set of data considering internal links and what’s called ‘dwell time’. Google wants to pay you credit if your site feels inviting and involving to users. So do a critical assessment of your sitye keyed to user-experience ensuring that every page is functional, fluid and friendly.

2. Keep it fresh

Google is now paying more attention to the “freshness” of a site – pushing up the value of blogs and “news” sites.  Post Panda, both Blogger and WordPress sites gained on average almost 22% in search engine visibility. Static websites with evergreen information (even if useful) risk being penalised unless they are also re-seeding the land with new information. And consistency matters- sites must be regularly updated with new information that your audience will be interested to like, link and share.

Start a blog and use it to say something that needs to be heard in a way that people want to listen. Post regularly and be relevant.

3. Make it engaging

Engaging creative content is not stuffed with key words meant to attract search engine attention but end up boring an actual site visitor. Still, it’s hard to determine exactly what will perk up a Panda.  That’s part of Google’s point – engaging content is unexpected. A hook or headline, photo or video, provocative statement or entertaining story that feels fresh and sparks actionable interest.

Disarm your audience with a direct appeal to their head or hearts. Entertain, inform and inspire them. And if you don’t know how to make your good story great, hire a writer to help you be creative.

4. Establish your authority

Authority, credibility and trust are traits that you have to earn – which is how Google wants it. A site like saw it’s page ranking improve by 55% post-Panda. Essentially Google’s new algorithm has it that a more reputable site is a higher quality site and respect deserves reward.

What can a small business do to elevate their domain authority status? Blogging – and strategically guest-blogging on a respected secondary blog – in a specific topic certainly helps. Blog posts or new original content can alsso be packaged into an E-book. Don’t just be relevant – prove it.

5. Make it sociable

Google is paying more attention to what other people are paying attention to. Social media signals are the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising and Google’s Panda update gives more value to these organic links.

Creating social buzz using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit and (surprise!) Google + is key to any successful SEO campaign. To trigger the proper social signals – likes, shares, re-tweets, diggs and conversational comments – your content has to be engaging and inspired. A post that goes viral gets you bonus points. And don’t only think about what you want to say – think about what your audience wants to hear – and like and share.

Keep one last thing in mind. Pandas are voracious – they eat nearly 80 pounds of bamboo per day. Consumers of digital information are just as hungry. But they prefer a buffet of good quality content. Feed them properly and they will come back for more and more.

– b