This year has been the year of the Panda. Not the cute, black and white fuzzy kind that you want to give a big cuddle to, but the more confusing Google kind.
Over the year “Panda” is the name attributed to a number of changes in Google’s algorithm for search engine optimization affectionately known as the Google Panda Update.
I don’t profess to be an SEO wizz by an means so I devoted some time last week to listening to the SEO Brain Trust’s take on what the effects of Google Panda are, and changes you should be making now to prepare for 2012.
You can listen to the SEO Brain Trust audio here and download transcripts as well.
The good news for WordPress users is, it’s going to be really simple to action some of the suggested changes.
Here’s a brief summary as it effects WordPress, for more detail on all the SEO wizz bang stuff listen to the SEO Brain Trust’s audio.
1) Of course, you knew this was going to come …but post more unique, relevant content to get rewards 🙂
2) Shorten the descriptions in your SEO plugin area which will be displayed when your search query is returned. Previously this was a 3 line organic advertisement, if you like. Now you only have 2 lines to sell the click to your site so make the most of it ( it’s about 145 characters)
3) Anchor links now have more value. Now this is a fun change and will surely mess up people who like to write “click me” as anchor text. Named anchors appear to be given more weight if your anchor text is actually a place to navgiate to on your page. When a visitor clicks on your named anchor they should be directed to a page where that Named Anchor can be found. You can easily do t his with WordPress by just creating a page with the name of your anchor title and using the Page Links To feature to link to that page (goes without saying …but you need to have relevant content on that linked page).
While we are talking anchor links, blue is better 🙂 Yes, I have to change mine. To do that, usually you just need to go to your css stylesheet and change the font color for the hyperlink. Like all things, take a copy in case you make a mistake (or just give someone a job on Fiverr) to do it for you.
4) Dating or not Dating Posts – the Brains trust suggest that you only date current events type posts or pages and evergreen subjects should be date free. Again, you can alter your theme not to display the date or use a plugin like Date Exclusion SEO Plugin
5) Snippet Wars – When Google finds:
“Two or more documents that have the same snippet on the search results only one of those will be actually shown on a search result”.
It appears that Google is “filtering out duplicates” of the same snippet from their results and noting what has been filtered and what hasn’t been. So just like Santa if you have been bad, and been filtered for content before, then don’t expect presents from the Panda bear Santa.
The first thing that you can do to avoid being the loser in snippet wars according to the SEO wizzes is “implement the rel=author tag” that causes author attribution to display.
You can do this easily in WordPress by following Google’s generic instructions on that topic.
Alternatively to prove your credibility as an author you can link your authorship of content to you Google + Profile by following the instructions here.
If you use a popular theme you should search for your Theme name and instructions on rel=author as well, as there may be theme specific instructions for doing this.
Now that you’ve worked out the author stuff you need to protect the content on your site by not allowing it to be syndicated or used on other sites (unless you can control the author attribution)
The other things that you can do are:
- ensure that you add your own exerpt to your site for each piece of content
- set your rss feeds to summaries of your content not full posts
Future Panda Predictions
The other warning from the Brains Trust is that often it’s easy to place content on our site, give it a quick spin and then send it out on its merry way again to other third party sites for quick links. Accordingg to the wizzes this will be the next “Panda” target, so start changing your practices now and ensuring that content you place on third party sites is different from your own content on your own site (not a spun version).
There’s a lot more in the video and I suggest you toddle along and watch it when you have time. Then start making some changes to new content that you produce for your sites (do not touch the old stuff).
Only time will tell, however, if the SEO Brains Trust have called it correctly in understanding the “Panda” battle.