Talking Panda with Dan Petrovic

As we constantly discuss issues presented with our clients websites, mostly over Skype, it is very informative to go over Skype transcripts and find useful data. While I was searching for some info in one of our previous talks with Dan I managed to extract a nice deal of information about Dan’s view on Panda.

Panda updates

Generally, here is how Dan sees Panda update: “Google Panda update saved Google’s reputation as a reliable and trustworthy search engine that always brings the most relevant results. Google is primarily targeting automated low quality sites which typically exhibit common recognisable footprints, not just on a semantic level but also in technical implementation.”

Further on we talked about problems and effects on the sites that were struck by Panda and some of the strategies that could be used to fight Panda, Dan explained: “Sharp drop in traffic, stepping down with each new update is the first thing to be expected, as for the effects, they are not taken seriously throughout the webmaster community as many sites simply do not fall in the affected category. Among the worst hit sites are aggregators such as price comparison sites. The strategies used, well, one of the most viable ones is trimming down the amount of indexed pages and have content as unique as possible across the entire site. Avoid excessive advertising or advertising which takes over content in priority.”

Dan also said that everything evens out in the end as the number of sites affected negatively by Panda will be replaced by the number of sites that emerged in the top 10 results, which just makes sense. So not everyone is afraid of Panda and not everyone sees it as something bad.

The talk went on about bettering the pages to fit Google’s desires, or improving user experience. Dan’s explanation of pages that deliver good user experience is as follows: “An example of user intention could be to learn or to buy and the end outcome is to know or to have. In eCommerce user experience starts with search, website that’s found must quickly reassure the user that they are in the right place and carry them through the process in a nice smooth way while keeping them informed about their progress. Failing to do this affects overall user experience. Bounce from websites after search results is another signal Google uses to determine which websites provide good user experience and which ones do not. They feed this information back into their algorithm and roll it out live with the next Panda update. Panda updates are manual, or better say released in instalments, where the main algorithm works in a more dynamic and real-time manner.”

One thing we all tend to complain about is Google’s search results, and how a great number of times they are not in compliance with Google’s quality guidelines, especially when taking the user experience into account. And with so many Google updates rolling out in the past few months it is hard for a regular user to keep track, Dan explained it perfectly: “Google’s strength is in its simplicity, they are dangerously close to overcomplicating their search results with variations of organic results such as real-time, news, images, videos, specialised results, related searches and other verticals.”

Dan also suggested focusing more on design as part of the user experience, after all it is a factor: “Design is a factor, one of many (over 200 in fact). On its own it is unable to affect website’s ranking in a profound way. In combination with other metrics it could raise a flag or two.”

Finally, Dan recommended several key features that any website or page should have to improve the user experience: “Pages should be relevant to user’s search intent, their purpose should be obvious at the first glance, following that they should be concise and well laid out. Of course they need to be trustworthy, something where I would feel comfortable leaving my credit card details and they should have strong branding.”

Pick the brains of the people you work with, that can be a great learning resource as Dan clearly showed us here. In the future I might pull up some transcripts from some of our link building sessions and share that experience with you.

Zac is a link building specialist and a seasoned SEO professional. He manages a team of link builders and actively promotes some of Australia's biggest brands. Zac is an active blogger and also maintains Dejan SEO's news and updates section.

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