When we look back at the present year events that affected the SEO world, we would realize that it has been more remarkable than we would have thought it would be. This year has actually marked a decisive point in the efforts made by Google to improve the quality of search engine results that are served to the Internet users. The focus with which Google went about its task of cleaning some of the damaging and poor quality sites from the search engine indexes is pretty well-known.
Unlike the gentle avatar that a Panda is considered to be, Google’s ‘Panda’ update literally sniffed out thousands of sites in a matter of couple of weeks from the web’s most powerful search engine. While many analysts saw a sort of devastation in the making for some time now, the intensity of the impact left everyone guessing about the company’s motives. All sites that were built on duplicate or re-written content were penalized. I have personally seen sites that used to rank on the first page being relegated to the 501st rank. You may call it a -500 penalty or whatever, but the intent of the ‘Panda’ was to punish thin affiliate sites that were spreading so-called ‘misinformation’ across the web. And the ‘Panda’ succeeded in wreaking havoc in less than 2 weeks’ time. You may consider Google’s action necessary after the FTC had laid down guidelines for affiliate sites in the previous year.
Now, some lucky affiliates who survived the original havoc had reasons to think that they were past the Panda update; in other words, they were lucky to have survived the ‘Panda’. Indeed, the first impact of ‘Panda’ brought some sites down but then other similar sites continued to flourish. Not for long though. A series of updates released by Google made sure that the ‘Panda’ walked slowly to almost all the thin and duplicate content-ridden sites. It was all mayhem in the affiliate world for a period of 3 months, during which the ‘Panda’ would strike and leave the affiliate sites gasping for breath. These sites were not left with any chance of a remediation or survival.
Panda’s successor or the latest update came to be termed as the ‘Freshness Update’, and this was unleashed in the month of October. As the name suggests, it sought to reward websites that have original content. It seemed that all the good things written in the SEO books were coming true, finally. The freshness update once again emphasized the need for a clear and careful SEO strategy that relies on long-term business goals, and on achieving consistent and stable rankings using perfectly legal ways. Business websites came to realize the significance of blogs, which can be used as a communication tool with the business’ audiences.
Essentially, at the beginning of the year, anybody could write an article and gain backlinks to the sites that were of questionable quality and intent. Towards the end of this year, we can definitely say that things have changed completely. Now, everyone does not seem to be writing articles anymore – and getting backlinks from such duplicate-ridden content farms is certainly of little value. It is time for actual content syndication to assume significance, and it is that time when the original copy writers are smiling their way to celebrate with the ‘Google Santa Claus’.