Last week we spoke about the seven things we know for sure about the Google algorithm change, called Panda update. Today we are going to focus on the things you should do to keep the Panda away.. or even better, to let the Panda love you and dominate the SERPs.
1. A New Content Strategy
You need a new content strategy if you want to protect your site from Panda. I advise starting out by having 3 to 5 articles of 2,500 to 3,000 words. Have them written by a good copywriter who will spend as much time researching and preparing to write the article as they they’ll spend writing the article.
It will be better for you to have 10,000 well written words on your site between three high quality articles than to have 100,000 words worth of 350 to 500 word fluff articles. You have to stop thinking volume of content and start thinking about quality. Paying $500 for 5,000 words will be a much better move than paying $500 to have 50,000 words written.
Also, if you’re going to be submitting articles to directories like Ezine articles, go for quality over quantity. Personally, I think it’s a better idea to post these articles on your site so you can build your rankings instead of helping someone else build theirs. Bottom line, quality has always been more important than quantity when it comes to content, but post Panda, quality is king, not just content.
Not to mention that everywhere you look, people are ordering 500 word articles. It seems to just be the commonly accepted practice, but common practice isn’t going to help you stand out in the crowd. Choose a content strategy based on new rules. Longer articles, higher quality, hold off on the volume until your content is working for you in earning rankings. If you do this right, the time will come very soon when it will.
Also, create an ongoing content strategy where you’ll be publishing articles on a weekly basis. One article is fine, but if you can do two and still create a lot of relevant and valuable content, then go for two articles/blogs a week. This will help you create content which is consistent with the topics people are reading about now AND it will give your readers a reason to come back.
2. Split Testing and on Page Optimization
We already talked about how bounce rates and time spent on site are very important for ranking now. So if you want to get the high rankings, you need to start split testing right away. This isn’t as much work as it sounds like at first. You can start out by changing the headline on your home page and split testing that with the headline you have now. If the bounce rate is lower for one of these headlines, you know that your readers like that headline more.
Next, optimize the first paragraph of your content to match that new headline and split test it against the old first paragraph. Do this with your header graphics and work down the page from there. Set up these kinds of tests for your home page and your secondary pages.
Yes, this is a veerrrryyyy sllloooowww process at first, but the more you do it the better understanding you’ll have of what your customers really want. You can build up a lot of momentum very fast from split testing. As your bounce rate gets lower and lower and your customers spend more time on your site, your site will get higher and higher rankings, you’ll have more traffic, you’ll be able to split test faster and faster.
I suggest using the Google website optimizer and Google analytics to do your split testing. They’re both free tools, and since they’re owned by Google you can be sure that the new data about your improving bounce rate will get picked up by Google quickly.
3. Keep an SEO Log
You can’t manage or improve something if you don’t know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. This is why you need to start tracking your SEO progress and how you’re making it. For example, keep an excel file or a spreadsheet and keep monthly track of everything that you change on your site. Check your rankings every week and check the bounce rate for your main pages.
The more you do this, the clearer picture you’ll get of the relationship between your actions and your results. This sounds so simple, but it’s really easy to just glaze over and to keep making random changes, hoping that one of them will magically increase your rankings. I suggest keeping this very simple and staying consistent with the things which you’re doing to test your SEO.
In other words, spend a month working on a specific content strategy and keep your off page SEO and everything else consistent while you work on your content strategy. At the end of the month, any changes which take place will be most likely as a result of your content strategy. Don’t make the mistake that soooo many marketers make by changing your strategy every three or four days until they have no idea what’s having a long term impact and what’s doing nothing. Keep track of what you’re doing and keep track of what results you’re getting. Do this in conjunction with your split testing and, although it’s slow at first, you’ll build up a lot of awareness and momentum very fast.
Next week I’ll give you three more things you should do to keep dominating the SERPs….