Recent updates to Google’s algorithm (Panda and Penguin), have left website owners doing more than the typical “google dance” — they have been in a veritable SEO mosh-pit. If it’s not a content issue, it’s links. It’s not just how to move forward, but how the old content (for some of us over ten years of content!!!) will be viewed by the search giant. We are advised to be careful not to “over-optimize” our sites. There can’t be too much similarity in pages (it’s not merely exact duplicate content anymore) and on and on and on.
There are tons of SEO experts out there trying to tell you how to determine WHICH of the updates hit you and what to do about it, and how to handle if you were hit by BOTH updates in rapid succession (there was an update then a second update, then the first update was updated again). Honestly, it’s pretty scary. Thankfully there is old wisdom that still serves…
The best approach to creating a website Google loves is to create a well-designed, easy-to-navigate website with high-quality content. Period.
(I keep saying that to anyone who will listen… and have for years.)
Just work on serving the people you want to attract. Give them the information they want to read. Write clearly and observe the rules of proper English (assuming of course that your site is written in English). There is some indication that the Panda update actually gives a site bad marks for grammar and spelling. (If only our public schools would be so bold!)
If you have been doing your own content, or hiring a great writer to help you out, you don’t need to worry, right? Well…no. There are a couple other things you need to consider:
- Be sure your hired-gun copywriter is ethical and is not reselling your content to someone else to use on their site… and therefore damaging your SEO.
- Make sure content scrapers aren’t coming in and lifting your content and using it on their crappy scraper sites to sell ads… and therefore damaging your SEO.
- Make sure less-than-honorable competitive website owners aren’t swiping your content and branding it as their own… and therefore damaging your SEO.
How can you tell if this is going on? I’ve got a few tools for your consideration. You may find one or more of them useful:
- http://www.copyscape.com (my personal, long-time favorite)
If you are concerned that an article you wrote on a topic three years ago on your blog may be too similar to an updated version on the same (or a similar) topic, you can:
- Rewrite the article, referencing the old article yourself to make sure you aren’t covering the same topics in the same way.
- Update the old article, adding in the latest information and republish it as a new, updated article (deleting the old one, but ensuring that the old URL forwards to the new version).
- You can use a tool to check to see how similar the articles REALLY are (like similar page checker) and then make your decision to change one, merge them, or delete one.
Regardless of how you decide to handle the old content on your site or the upcoming content… the most important point that Panda makes is that content is king… and will always be king. It’s hard to go wrong if you write for your audience with well-developed topics they want to read. As a writer and as someone who has been preaching this at clients and peers and… well… anyone who would listen, I can’t say I’m hating the change. It kind of feels like job security to me 😉