Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or under your computer desk, you’ve probably heard about Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. Released in February 2011, Panda was designed to target sites that are using duplicate content, or content with only a few modified words (also known as shallow content). The sites that were affected by Panda were previously ranking higher in Google search results than higher quality sites that could’ve been more helpful to users. According to Google, Panda affected 12% of search results.
In April 2012, Google released another algorithm update – Penguin. While Panda aimed to target sites with duplicate content, Penguin was designed to address sites that were over-optimized with spammy SEO techniques, specifically in regards to links. Sites that were affected by Penguin typically saw a significant dip or decrease in traffic or rankings. According to Google, Penguin affected approximately 3.1% of English search queries.
Since Google first released Panda and Penguin, there have been numerous updates to both. In early March, Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google, announced that there would be another Penguin and Panda update coming that would impact eCommerce sites in the search results. Google is always releasing updates to their existing algorithm to try to improve the search experience. But when these updates roll out, if you maintain SEO best practices, your site shouldn’t have much to worry about.
Here are the best practices that can keep your site performing well in the SERPs, no matter what the algorithm update.
All of the content on your site, whether it is section pages, product descriptions, blogs, or articles, should be 100% unique. Some eCommerce websites use the manufacturer’s product descriptions, but it’s recommended that you take the time to write unique descriptions that provide the consumer with fresh content to read and search engines with fresh content to crawl.
Make sure your content is high quality, and provides the reader with something useful that they can’t find anywhere else. You can identify high quality and low quality content by reviewing the page visits, unique page views, time spent on page, and bounce rates using Google Analytics. After identifying the pages that feature low quality content (i.e. something isn’t offering value), you can work to improve them by rewriting the content, deleting those pages altogether, or consolidating the content so that it makes more sense or is easier for the user.
Natural Link Building
The best type of link building is a public relations style, where you actually earn links. This can happen in a variety of ways. For some, it can mean earning links by becoming an authority in a particular industry and creating amazing content that offers value. For others, it can mean building buzz in multiple channels, including social media. It can also mean reaching out to bloggers, building relationships with them, and asking them if they’d like to host a giveaway, write a review, or feature your site in a guest blog. Carefully choose the type of sites acquired for link building. Some eCommerce websites are too aggressive in their link building, resulting in an abundance of low and poor quality links pointing back to the website. Any time the links are coming from a bad neighborhood, it puts the site at risk. This can damage the website’s reputation, as well as cause harm to your eCommerce SEO efforts.
With any algorithm update there is a chance that you may be affected; but when you maintain SEO best practices it’s less likely that Google Penguin, Google Panda, or another one of Google’s algorithm updates will negatively affect your website.