7 Content Rules to Succeed in a Post-Panda 4.0 World

, June 25, 2014

Giant Panda eating bamboo, Chengdu, ChinaPanda 4.0 has some major changes that could affect how your site is found in search engines. While many blogs have discussed the new Google algorithm, you might not know the best way to create content that is best-suited for Panda.

In this post, Julia Spence-McCoy is going to show us some of the best practices for creating effective content in the Post-Panda 4.0 World.

A recap of Google Panda 4.0 changes

Let’s refresh our minds real quick before delving into writing for Panda 4.0. This algorithm is directed at cutting out spam or poor quality posts from the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs.) Google is taking their SERPs very seriously, by making sure their users find exactly what they want. This is evident in their nifty new, Siri-esque, conversational search. To stay on Panda’s good side, you want to focus on writing great quality pieces and staying away from spam-filled content.

As all internet marketers know by now, best practices are crucial for SEO. You need to make sure you’re following them, especially as you post content in the post-Panda 4.0 world. Let’s take a quick look at a few of these rules and help you continue to rank!

1. Write Naturally, But Professionally. Google is looking for content that is not only written in a very natural but also an authoritative tone. This means you need to come across as authentic to readers while still sounding conversational. If you don’t, your ranks will suffer and you will also lose readers.

Siri and other similar voice-recognition programs have shown that people are now craving technology with which they can interact in an intuitive way. Users trust content from personalities with whom they feel a connection on a personal level, even if they never connect with that person in real life. Create your content as if you are speaking to a friend by sounding conversational and writing in such a way that the majority of Internet users can follow.

While writing in a friendly manner, always make sure to maintain a level of professionalism. This means you should always proofread your work before you publish. It should be free of all typos and grammatical errors. While our friends may not judge us for being lazy, Google and potential clients surely will.

2. As Always, Stay Away From Keyword Stuffing. Keyword stuffing is a major “Red Flag” to Google when it comes to spam. Keywords do help you get noticed, but if you use them too much throughout a post, not only will the readability of the post suffer, it could even result in ranking penalties from Google.

Many sites are slowly moving toward creating content without a keyword focus and using relatively few keywords per piece. If you include keywords, consider limiting them to one in your title, one in a sub-header and one or two throughout the post. Any more can seem excessive. Always make sure the keywords occur naturally and don’t break up the flow of your article or your web content.

3. Truly Be Knowledgeable. You can write on a number of topics, but if you don’t know much about one, your content is going to come across as unnatural and limit your ranks and readers. Make sure you write about topics you know well and that you can write about as an expert. You should already be doing this to keep your blogs and content streamlined. Nothing will hurt your credibility more than creating content that has factual or interpretive errors.

If you happen to write about a topic you aren’t sure about, then make sure you dedicate enough time to research and review. Give yourself a couple of days to look up information online and be sure to craft an outline while researching to help organize your thoughts. Make sure to bookmark pages that give you handy information and read through them completely. You don’t want to go piecemeal with your research because this could definitely backfire. If you find you are not be able to give enough information and knowledge on a certain topic adequately, then find a guest blogger to write about it. This will ensure your blog stays truly authoritative and doesn’t come across as fake or spam.

4. Give Clear Directions Around Your Site. If you post an “About” page, make sure it sends people to your “About” story and not your products or blog. It is frustrating and very misleading if several of your page links say one thing but link people to your product. You could be penalized by Google for doing so.

This is a great chance to use your blog because you can talk about services and products throughout and link naturally to them from your post. Make sure people can click through your site easily and find what they are looking for without the salesperson hassle. The more natural the flow, the better received your site will be! You should also consider placing a search element on your site for those customers who just don’t know where to go no matter how clear the directions are. This will help them feel as if you are willing to work with them and can garner some excellent reviews for your site.

5. Plagiarism And Duplicate Content Must Be Avoided. This should be a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, a lot of people still think it is fine to duplicate or plagiarize content.

Recirculating plagiarized or duplicate content is one of the easiest ways to draw the ire of Google. Why? Because spammers are known for copying people’s information and setting up a new website or social media account with that exact information. Not only does this hurt the credibility of the originator of the content, it also compromises Google’s rankings. If you duplicate a great piece you found without attribution, (this is different than merely sharing) you open your site up to severe ranking penalties by Google. Further, if you straight-up plagiarize, you could wind up in more trouble than just simply not ranking, as plagiarism can have legal implications as well. If your site contains any duplicate content, remove it immediately and start crafting things of your own.

A great idea for writing about something you recently found: write a blog about why you think it is interesting. Give a little info about the piece and then write your own, authentic viewpoint, linking back to the initial post. This will look very professional while still sharing the excellent information you came across.

6. Focus On Writing High-Quality Material. This has been necessary for quite some time, but with Google Panda 4.0, it is vital. If you have any lower-quality material, many SEO experts are suggesting you remove the pieces to avoid being affected by the new 4.0 update. If that’s not possible, start publishing more quality pieces immediately to raise your aggregate quality. If you feel you lack the skills or knowledge to craft a great, quality piece, you can always seek professional copywriters or hire someone for your company.

You should also remember that great quality does not equal difficult-to-understand content. You need to make sure it is at a decent reading level for everyone to gain information from it. Avoid using technical jargon and write for a broad audience. This will help you bring in more readers, and ensure you’re publishing only quality material.

7. Panda 4.0 Loves Uniqueness. Being unique is definitely the new sexy, and Google agrees. Distinguishing yourself from your competitors will help your rankings, but will mainly help when people choose you over your competitors. Protect your voice. Create a style guide for your blog and make sure anyone who contributes to your blog adheres to it. Write your content in your voice or find someone who can write in the voice you want. Protecting that voice is protecting your brand.

Show readers your company culture. For example, if your voice is an informal “Sassy” tone, then be sure to implement (nice) sassy elements throughout your content strategy. Likewise, if you are a more serious company, your tone should reflect that voice. Humor may be the best thing that can separate you from your competitors, but only if it’s appropriate for your branding. If you’re a more traditional company, let customer service and how much information you provide on services and products define your voice and leave the comedy to the experts.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!

As you step into this new Panda World, you can use these seven tips to prepare yourself and your content strategy. The main thing to remember with this new algorithm is that Google is really cracking down on spam and Black Hat SEO. Google wants you to write like the authentic human being you are because authentic human beings are who will be reading your content.

Start writing for these humans, and you will see that you rank higher. Start writing conversationally, professionally and most of all, have fun!

Image credit: Bigstock


 

 

Author bio: Julia Spence-McCoy is the CEO of Express Writers, an online copywriting agency she founded in 2011. Her agency boasts thousands of pages worth of web content created to-date and employs more than 50 talented writers. Julia’s passions are copywriting and SEO, and all that those entail.