Weekend Warrior: Building Links Post-Panda

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If you happened to see Google’s interactive Earth Day doodle on Friday, you undoubtedly noticed the pair of Panda bears frolicking behind the omnipresent “G”. Do not be misled – those cuddly creatures mean business, and they are a not-so-subtle reminder to every company on the Web that the recently updated search algorithm nicknamed Panda is here to stay.

Most online businesses are having to make adjustments to achieve the desired search rankings under the new algorithm, and their approach to building links has to change as well. No longer do the old rules of link building apply, and the sooner that a company accepts that fact, the better its SEO results will be.

Here, then, are some guidelines for building links in this new Panda era:

Clean your own house first
The goal of the Panda update is to improve the quality of content on the Web, thus improving the quality of Google’s search results. Sites that engage in content farming or otherwise low-quality, “spammy” content creation have been the primary targets, and the updated algorithm was designed to punish those sites by significantly lowering their SERP rankings.

How this affects link building going forward is that businesses must be very careful about whom they share and receive links; linking to and from sites that Google has deemed as having a low quality of content is a virtual death sentence. Before setting out on any new link building initiatives, however, businesses and website owners must ensure they their own sites do not fall into this category, because their chances of acquiring quality links will be greatly diminished until they do this.

A professional design is imperative, as are acceptable page load speeds and signals of trust that provide clear indications to users and other businesses that your business website is a reputable destination. Most important, of course, and the whole reason behind Panda, is the ability to produce quality content that is useful, accurate, authoritative, current and free of grammatical and spelling errors.

New content strategy, new content
Panda does not require that all Web professionals suddenly become Pulitzer nominees, but a re-evaluation of your current content strategy is still a good idea. Even if it requires a temporary or part-time hire, ensuring that all existing content meets the above criteria before embarking on any new link building efforts is critical.

The next step, then, is to consider how your business can provide a high quality of useful content going forward, and that may require trying some new channels you have previously avoided until now. If your company is already producing regular blog posts and whitepapers that will draw in links from quality sites, perhaps now is the time to consider video, webinars and/or podcasts, and distribute them through YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Slideshare, etc.

Be social, but smart
The first, and most important, part of building links in the Panda era is about producing useful content to which quality sites throughout your niche will want to link. The second and next most important part is about forging and building those relationships that will be the most valuable to your business.

Like the mention of video in the section above, if you have not been taking proper advantage of social media until now, it is definitely time to start. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are three excellent places to start for finding and exchanging links with reputable websites in your specific niche or business category, but they are only the beginning. Building links in the Panda era requires a lot more work than previously, and hours of research and dozens of emails and phone calls may be required to build and maintain the necessary relationships with other website owners.

But be careful about the relationships you pursue, because the Panda algorithm will judge your business by the quality of the links you are able to build. That much has not changed; what has changed is the premium value put on today’s content, and the amount of work that will be required to create and distribute that content in order to build the quality links that will net the best search results.

 

 

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14 comments

Atlanta Real Estate 04-22-2011 3:31 PM

Great, timely post. I hope some of the slackers that are above me in the rankings can finally come back to earth.

Linc Wonham 04-22-2011 3:44 PM

I think a lot of Web pros  share your sentiments. One thing the Panda update may do is even the playing field a little more -- and, at least where link building is concerned -- reward those who can put the most effort into the process.

TJ's Variety 04-22-2011 4:05 PM

GREAT informaiton. We are in the process of redesigning are site on a new platfrom. This will help. I been following the Panda update for a while.

Titanium Rings 04-22-2011 4:55 PM

Panda's been a great update for us. We've seen a lot of the fluff, the low-quality content farms results disappear and a lot of the high quality blogs in our field get some visibility. Haven't seen a lot of sites that used those linking technique lose rank, unfortunately. A good start, though!

Michael Wilkes 04-22-2011 4:57 PM

I think that intentionally "built" links should get no value at all. To show that something is relevant (Google's actual goal), I would put most of the weight on how many people search for a site's embedded copy, visit the site, and how long they stay there.

RandyB 04-22-2011 6:08 PM

My website is actually doing much better in the rankings since the Panda algorithim. Following in what my folks taught me, do what's right, and it will be all right.

Thanks and God bless.

JoyceW 04-22-2011 9:50 PM

Just wondering about the article writing. Is that still as important since the algorithim change? It did not affect my website much, which I guess that is good. I still stay on page 1 2 or 3. Thanks for the great article  and Website Magazine. I look forward to them. I always learn something. Thanks again.

JoyceW

Camo Nets 04-23-2011 4:34 PM

I'm glad for this update because I've felt that my sites had great content and weren't getting the ranking love! :)

GregW 04-25-2011 5:42 AM

I have seen our sites position improve significantly in many areas because of this update from google. I agree with RandyB and others, stay the course by doing what is right.

Environmental Equipment Rental 04-25-2011 4:26 PM

Imaging my surprise while working on one of my main keyword phrases, "minirae 3000 rental" and found a google search came up with an ezine article and an articlebase article (same article) both on the first page of google for my keyword phrase.  Maybe the Panda update does not work in all industries.  Maybe low volume keyword phrase searches do not apply.  Has anyone had any experience like this?

MattMalone 04-26-2011 1:18 PM

Do you believe its still safe to submit 'spun' content? Provided, the content is spun well and is pure in grammar and spelling, and still offers useful content. How unique does unique need to be with Farmer and Panda?

Sue Reddel 04-26-2011 1:57 PM

We've seen our site improve with the Panda algorithm. Real content that people are interested in is always the best way to go.

Thanks for sharing your insights.  

Giochi Gratis 07-31-2011 10:06 AM

Panda update kill my website: from 1st page to 4st :(

Mascali 08-03-2011 10:09 AM

Same problem : my homepage has dropped out of Google rankings...

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