How Google’s Panda Update Changed SEO to be More User Centred

Google’s Panda Update was introduced to the UK back in April 2011  a new method of distinguishing which pages are useful and which are not to search users. Since then, it has changed the way SEO’s do their jobs, placing far more emphasis than ever before on design and user experience.

For years, SEO’s worked by known and understood best practices, adding title tags and meta descriptions, creating keyword optimised content and then seeking links into those pages from reputable sources. These practices allowed SEO’s to show search engines how useful their content is by clearly describing it and getting other people to vote for it. What the Panda update does is to move that emphasis, still requiring us to do all of the above but now far more heavily emphasising the experience people have on our sites (which had previously been a secondary consideration).

What this means in practical terms is that we need to create pages people like, pages people are going to want to share. The way you achieve this is dependant on your target audience, but generally, follow these tips and you won’t go far wrong:

  1. Unique, relevant contentWriting what everyone else is writing is not useful, but providing a different spin, a new opinion or a clearer way of describing it will help your content stand out from the rest.
  2. Show some personality!It’s difficult to engage a user when your tone is flat and boring. Every brand needs a personality, so don’t be afraid to let yours shine through. Whether you’re a professional firm or a creative agency, keeping jargon levels appropriate and letting users see the people behind the brand will create better brand affiliations and loyalty.
  3. Think about the experienceGood user experience is imperative to creating engaging, share-worthy content. If a user struggles to find what they need or they have to scroll/click through loads of content to find what they need, they’re not going to like that page at all.

There’s load of information out there on the Panda Update, the majority of which is confusing and potentially off-putting. The basic premise, however, is simple: create an optimal user experience with good quality content to make something people will like, share and revisit.

SEOMoz featured a really good video on this which is well worth a watch. Check it out below:

Wistia

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