The recently unleashed, and then even more recently rehashed, Google Panda algorithm update works at identifying low-quality pages and sites that are deemed not useful to searcher experience. These sites include “content farms” – sites that generate robust amounts of content about various topics that are designed to exploit search engine algorithms. The primary objective of content farms is to produce advertising revenue from searchers that navigate to these pages through search results. These sites blatantly place search engine optimization goals over factual relevance; and therefore, Google sees them as less relevant to the user, and thus, penalizes them in the search results. These are some signs as to what Google may deem a low-quality site (from Search Engine Watch):
- Lots of ads
- Lack of quality content
- Lots of content but low traffic
- Lack of moderation
SEO must always focus on quality, rather than quantity, when it comes to link building. The links that we seek for our clients are typically high-level links from legitimate sites, not the types of sites that Google would be prone to penalize. That being said, Google is by no means perfect, and some useful sites with high amounts of traffic have seen drastic degradation in search visibility. With Panda in the wild, optimizers should shift focus more to incorporating unique content into client sites as much as possible while making sure to only pursue quality links from legitimate and authoritative sites.
Panda has not had much of an impact on our practices as an agency, as we have always used strictly white-hat, authentic SEO techniques. Panda is simply an effort by Google to crack down on improper exploitation of its search engine algorithm, and those companies and sites that do not use unscrupulous methods should not be affected.