Google Panda 4.1 Is Here…Should You be Worried?


In case you missed it, Google Panda 4.1 was released last week. While Google has not officially confirmed the update yet, discussions in online marketing forums confirm that the search engine giant is either testing a new Panda update or has already released one.

If you have been affected by Panda 4.1, chances are that Google does not consider your website to be adding value to users online. Generally, the major sites that seem to have been hit by Panda 4.1 include:

i) Medical content farms. These are sites providing information about medical conditions but are not created by verified medical authorities. A lot of affiliate sites promoting products like Garcinia Cambogia have been hit.

ii) Lyrics sites. Lyrics sites that mostly republish lyrics with little original content of their own and have heavy monetization.

iii) Affiliate sites. Affiliate sites with low-quality content, including those with blank or broken pages.

iv) Gaming sites. Gaming sites that have thin content and that aggregate content from other online sites.

Hopefully, your website does not fall among the above and you have not been hit. The rollout is still ongoing and it may be a few weeks before the dust settles and small business owners determine whether or not they have been hit.

What is Panda 4.1 Targeting?

Looking at the initial data available, it is clear that Panda 4.1 is back to get the sites that were spared during the last update. And the big stick is all about content.  Sites that are churning out low quality content and those with duplicate content are getting penalized.  But how does Google find out what low quality content is?

One thing you have to understand is that Google penalties are simply aligorithm changes done on how search engines find and classify content. In theory, one of the ways that Google may be determining if a content is low quality is by simply looking at the bounce rate. If a site has a high bounce rate, then it’s possible that the content is low quality and visitors don’t get value from it.

Most sites that are getting penalized are those that are keen on monetizing their visitors either through ads or affiliate products. Thus, small businesses are likely to be spared in the Panda 4.1 roll-out even if the sites get low traffic.

The above are just my theories and should not be taken to be absolute Gospels from Google’s mouth.

Now, in case your site  has  been hi (or will be hit) t, it’s time to ramp up your content and strive to create more shareable and trusted content in your industry.Panda updates are majorly about content and I therefore cannot stress enough the need of having quality content on your website.

But, should you really be afraid of Google updates?

I cannot downplay the impact of getting hit by Panda 4.1 or any of the Google updates. For small businesses, the impact is even severe given that you may be using your personal finances to run the business.

Therefore, it makes sense to take steps to avoid Panda or Penguin updates at all costs. What I am going to say next may seem controversial but it’s one of the things that I feel small business owners should focus on.

So, how do you avoid Google updates? Simply IGNORE GOOGLE.

Yes. It’s time to focus your content marketing strategies away from the realm of Google.

But Deb, how will I get visitors to my blog without Google? You may be asking.

Well, I do not mean that you should not care what Google says and the guidelines they have put in place to guide webmasters on how to optimize their websites. However, we all know that in every Google update, some small businesses that have done nothing wrong usually get caught up in all the mess.

Thus, I would recommend that you focus your efforts in building communities across different channels. The best thing with communities is that they cannot be affected by Google updates. If you have a vibrant community that loves your content, they will visit your website regardless of whichever animal update Google decides to unleash.

Build Communities to Generate Website Traffic

To build communities of prospects that are interested in your business, you have to identify different channels that will help you to connect and pass your message along. Examples of channels you can use include:

1. Social Media Sites

You can use Facebook and other social media sites to build a community around your business. How you approach and implement your social media marketing will have an impact on the results that you will get.

Social media marketing is not a set-and-forget system. With Facebook constantly tweaking its algorithm and affected post reach, you need to be on toes with the marketing platform.

You need a social media plan to guide you in your marketing. The plan should outline the audience you are targeting, how you will reach them, what you wish to achieve from your interaction and how you will measure success.

Check this article on how to market your business on Facebook.

2. Forums

While not usually mentioned in most online marketing blogs, forums are great for connecting with people interested in your business and that are likely to become your customers.

Granted, not all forums are active. Moreover, you will need to earn the trust of the members of the forums before you start asking for a sale. You have to be helpful to other members of the forums to earn trust. You do this by answering their questions and providing helpful information.

To get started with forum marketing, identify about 3 to 5 forums full of active with members of your market. Next, look around the forums to get a sense of the topics that members are interested in and start participating.

Here is a string that you can use to search for forums in your niche: “keyword + forum”

3. Email

Email is one of the most effective ways of building your brand and keeping your audience engaged. Email marketing is more than sending your subscribers marketing messages. Use the marketing platform to build connections by educating your subscribers and helping them with their problems.

The first step to effective email marketing is to set up an auto responder for your business. You can use a service like GetResponse, Aweber or Constant Contact. These three email marketing services providers have auto responder features.

From there, determine the initial content that you will be sending to your audience. Interact with your subscribers and find out what they are struggling with. The goal is to provide value to the audience to ensure they stay subscribed to your list and start trusting you.

Finally, make an offer that the audience cannot refuse. This last step should come after you have found out what your audience is struggling with and whether they are willing to pay for a solution to the problem.

For most websites, Google is the primary source of traffic. If this applies to your website, you should take advantage of all the free traffic you are getting and start tappingand sending it to other online marketing channels that you have a presence in.

The last thing you want is to be shaken when Google pulls the plug on a working system and all your natural traffic is cut off overnight.

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