Sites with rich, unique and interesting content see better search rankings in the wake of the latest update to Google's Panda algorithm.

It’s been less than a week, and the results of Google’s latest Panda algorithm update are already shifting the search landscape. While only about 3-5 percent of searches have been affected, a study by Searchmetrics shows there are still valuable SEO lessons to be learned from Google’s shakeup.

First and foremost, let’s look at the losers: Site content with the biggest losses in position and visibility include music lyrics, medical resources and games. What are some of the common elements they share?

 

 Thin content: Google’s vision of the internet is one where small- and medium-sized businesses can succeed by providing rich, in-depth content. Sites that don’t add value (for example, poorly written medical advice) are taking a hit.
 Repetitive information: Music lyric sites are a dime a dozen (not to mention unoriginal), whereas thin medical resources often copy info from other, more useful sites.

What were the winners? They include news sites, pages publishing longer content and offering file downloads. Basically, Searchmetrics’ research paints of a picture of blogs and resources with unique information and specialized viewpoints succeeding.

But what does it look like in practice?

A typical site affected by Panda 4.1 has thin content and doesn’t beckon users to click deeper into a site. Google uses bounce rates to identify low-quality sites, while engagement and deeper site exploration indicate good content.

One client in the data and networking space wanted to provide the kind of deep content and in-depth resources to make its pages stand out to Google. We created analytical news pieces, in-depth blogs and custom infographics about industry developments to entice visitors to click further once they had arrived on content landing pages.

The results came swiftly – the company saw a 400 percent increase in goal completions. This helped its bottom line, but it also saw that website sessions increased 7 percent, indicating when it made site content richer and more appealing to readers, its SEO performance improved to match.

This kind of strategy doesn’t just optimize to get traffic – it optimizes for users’ clicks once they’ve already landed on the site. This is the sort of customer behavior that Panda is rewarding. Sites that are creating shallow content for the sole purpose of ranking and getting visitors – without providing any good information – will see their numbers suffer.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.