We all use Google, right? It’s almost automatic these days with the immediate access to smartphones, tablets and Wi-Fi in most places we go, not to mention in our homes. But the majority of us have no idea how Google actually works. Put simply, and so as not to confuse you with unnecessary jargon (It’s boring anyway…) it’s basically about how Google searches for and ranks websites. You know how when you type something into Google and you usually always choose a page from the first or second page of results? Yeah. That. So. Basically, Google reads websites, and so when someone comes along and looks something up online, it matches your search term with a load of websites containing relevant content. When you search for ‘kids football boots’ you aren’t met with websites about baking, are you? That’s because Google knows what to give you, as it reads content and pings it to you when you ask for it.
Now. People found easy ways to get their website to that coveted front page of results, even when their website wasn’t that great or didn’t really deserve the top spot. Google couldn’t really spot this, and it wasn’t fair to those websites with really great content and whose developers worked hard to provide quality content and information to the people who needed it. But then, Google’s developers found new ways to expose the websites with poor content or the websites who cheat to get to the front page, and they do this with the use of algorithms (again, boring word, sorry.) An algorithm is basically a technique used to get the job done, it’s specific and defined and allows your computer or search engine to sort through information. Don’t get too hung up on that part.
In February 2011, Google rolled out an update to their algorithm, called Panda. The aims of this were to give good quality websites the recognition they deserved by getting rid of those sites that were of poor quality or thin content, content which was irrelevant or meaningless; junk, basically. It searched for sites with vague or duplicate content too, meaning that websites with padded out content, pages and pages of nothing or over-optimized content were penalized. Duplicate content can be things you’ve plagiarized from another source, or it could be pages of the same thing of your own that you’ve repeated to make it look like you have a bigger site. Examples of poor or thin quality content is content or text that doesn’t help or engage the user, or doesn’t offer anything constructive to the user. It can also be pages with just a sentence or two on, that could really be amalgamated into just one or two pages.
The only way to recover from being hit with a penalty was to simply ‘be better’; get rid of all the bad content from your website and hopefully when the new updates refresh you should be okay. But you can’t just have meaningless content, it really does have to be good, or Google will just knock you down again and you’ll be ranking lower than Michelle McManus’s album sales.