Google is at it again! They’ve recently initiated a refresh of their Panda search filter, which sifts through the millions of live websites, in order to reduce the rankings for low-quality sites. Panda targets sites that have poorly written, thin, and duplicative content. It’s a site-wide penalty, meaning that if the majority of pages on your law firm website are flagged by Panda, the whole site may be penalized, even if you have great content on some of the pages.
Panda has been updated approximately 30 times since it was first introduced in 2011. With each update, sites that were previously penalized can get back into Google’s good graces, if they’ve made improvements. On the flip side, sites that weren’t previously flagged as low-quality could be penalized.
Unlike previous updates, Panda 4.2 is being slowly rolled out over several months. That means that your firm’s site might not be immediately affected. If your rankings have remained consistent over the last couple of weeks, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve escaped unscathed.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Penalized?
Unfortunately, if your site is penalized as a result of the Panda, it’s going to take some time to recover. Google doesn’t re-index every site each time it refreshes the Panda filter, so you may have to deal with the fall out until Google recrawls your website and takes note of any improvements you make.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, advises, “And so, if you think you might be affected by Panda, the overriding kind of goal is to try to make sure that you’ve got high-quality content, the sort of content that people really enjoy, that’s compelling, the sort of thing that they’ll love to read that you might see in a magazine or in a book, and that people would refer back to, or send friends to, those sorts of things.”
Toward that end, when evaluating the quality of your website, consider the following:
- Would you trust the information contained on your website?
- Is the content written by an expert who knows the topic well, or is it shallow in nature?
- Does the site have duplicate or redundant content?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Does the content have spelling, grammatical or factual errors?
- Does the page provide substantial value compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Was the content edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Does the content provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does the content contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share, or recommend?
In short, Google rewards websites that they feel are most valuable by ranking them higher in search results. In part, that value is measured by the amount of in-depth, informative content that’s on your website. To remove a Panda penalty or escape from being caught in the future, your firm website should be rich with well-written, educational content that prospects will find valuable.
Director, Web & SEO Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555