Wildcard Friday – Farmer/Panda Update

By Joe


As we’ve been talking about in several of our blog posts recently, we now know that Google’s latest update, often referred to as the Farmer or Panda update, that a site’s content and overall quality play an extremely important role in a site’s visibility on the search engine. In a previous SEO Monday post, I talked how having unique content is important now more than ever, and in this post I’d like expand on this concept and demonstrate a few ways to help manage your site’s pages better.

The first tip I’d like to show is how to check which pages on your site are deemed by Google to be lower in quality. By now, you should know that the Google’s primary index houses all of your high quality pages and that its supplementary tends to contain your lower quality pages. To check which pages on your site fall into the supplementary index, you can use an advanced site command query that looks like this. This command query is telling Google to first show all pages contained in the index for a site using the site command, then by adding the minus sign and using the site command for the primary index, it tells Google to subtract all of the pages in the primary index, therefore leaving the supplementary pages left in the results. Once you have the supplementary pages in the results, you can now take a look at the various factors which could have a negative impact on each page in terms of poor quality like duplicate content, poor navigation, duplicate page titles, etc.

Another tip I’d like to recommend is using canonical tags, when appropriate. Canonical tags will come in very useful when you have various versions of the same page. An example would be when you have a URL that contains a query string at the end to indicate the difference sources that are driving traffic, like the one shown on the screen. Rather than have multiple versions of the same page, it is much better to incorporate a canonical tag into the page’s source so the search engines will know that all the variations should only point back to the one main page.

While we’re talking about meta tags, another helpful one to use is the no index tag, which indicates to the search engines not to place the particular page in the index. Using one of these tags will help control your lesser quality pages from being indexed, which will improve the overall ratio of pages on your site in the primary index out of the overall index. This particular example might be helpful if you have weaker product pages with shallow content or just duplicated content from the original manufacturer. Eventually, you should work on the content on all of your product pages to ensure it is unique, but this will serve as a short term solution in the meantime.

The 3rd tip I’d recommend is using online resources like Google Webmaster Tools to investigate any broken links on your site, 404 pages, and so on. Cleaning up the broken links on your site will help improve the overall quality and indexing of the site.

Finally, the last recommendation I would make is deleting any unnecessary pages on your site that are no longer needed. However, it is very important to pay close attention to which pages you delete, as some may still add some value to the site. For example, if you have a page on your site that contains a discontinued product, you might want to consider removing it. However, if you find through your analytics that the page is still bringing in traffic, a better solution may be cross promoting a similar, alternative product on this page to help direct traffic to other pages on your site.