Google’s Panda Update Eats Spam Farms for Breakfast and LOVES Videos

Google's Panda update eats spam farms for breakfast!

Google's Panda update eats spam farms for breakfast!

The web may be only about twenty years old, but as we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century it’s clearly evident that together with the ascent of mobile technology, it’s the biggest global change engine we’ve experienced in our lifetime, affecting every aspect of our lives.

Google IS the door

The biggest gateway to the web – the entrance point the vast majority of us use to access the Internet, is Google – Its search results to be precise. Therefore when Google’s search result rankings are changed that’s potentially big news. In fact the bigger the change to the rankings – the more likely the change is to be newsworthy.

Earlier this year, late in February to be exact, Google made one of the biggest changes ever to their proprietary site ranking system. It was, and still is big news to the entire web ecosystem – especially to businesses that rely on their websites to generate their income.

What is “Panda” and why does it matter?

This change to Google’s algorithms was given the internal name “Panda“, after Google engineer Navneet Panda, who’s work on machine learning is a major component. Outside Google circles it’s also widely referred to as the “Farmer” update, because originally it was aimed at helping Goolge reduce the search visibility of so called “content farms” (low quality article sites that specialize in dominating long-tail key phrases).

The big change Google Panda introduces into search rankings, is a deference to actual human preferences insofar as websites are concerned. For the first time ever Google’s ranking system isn’t based solely on on-page factors and inbound links, but also on data that relates to how people actually perceive the ranked pages.

How did Google do it?

Without getting overly technical, and based on an interview that Google staffers Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts gave to Wired Magazine, the process Google used to achieve this started out with presenting a select panel of raters with a bunch of websites, and then interviewing them about the sites using questions such as: “Would you buy on this website? “ and “Would you trust the medical information on this website?”. Eventually the reviewed sites were divided into two groups – those raters wanted to see more of, and all the rest…

Many Search Engine Optimization Professionals suspect this initial data was cross referenced with the aggregated user and usage data Google collects via the Chrome browser, user’s site blocking in search results, Google +1 buttons,  Google Analytics (…etc.) in order to improve the search giant’s understanding of how and why people were preferring the selected sites. The insights gained from these experiments were then scaled up using the machine learning processes developed by Mr Panda, and the new data regarding each site was then used to influence Google’s entire ranking.

What Panda has effectively done is enable Google to refer to a “Human Like-ability Factor” in their search rankings – Sites people are likely to enjoy get better ranked than others 

How does all this relate to Video?

Video’s popularity with all of us is no secret, and it now seems the Panda update might be taking this into account in its rankings, as was recently reported by Frank Watson over at Search Engine Watch.

Based on an analysis of Searchmetrics ranking losers and winners Frank stipulates that many of the winning sites are Video rich:

9 in 10 of the top winners from the new rankings are Video intensive

9 in 10 of the top winners from the new rankings are Video intensive

Hindsight is always 20/20, and the results do seem to speak for themselves, but it’s still interesting to ponder how Google is using the data it has to re-assess search rankings, and why video seems to feature so heavily in sites that are seeing better rankings:

  1. Visit depth and length – If Google is using data it has on visit depth and length to your site to evaluate your rankings it’s easy to understand how video would have a positive influence – Your visitors are prone to spend a longer time on each page and visit more pages if they know they can expect to see videos there .
  2. Video requires a bigger effort = less likely to be spammy – Another reason Google would give a preference to video is simply because of the extra effort involved in adding it into your pages and curating it. Having video on your pages pretty much earmarks you as being less likely to be a low-end quality spam website.

Pandas, Videos, Sales and You

As interesting as trying to reverse engineer the reasons for Google’s obvious new-found love for videos is, it’s pretty safe to assume that, as with all other things relating to their rankings are concerned, they will continue to maintain their well known policy of releasing precious little beyond their regular “Build a good website and everything will be OK”  type statements.

Be that as it may videos do seem to be the darling of the day for SEO, and having them on your site clearly makes more of a difference now than it ever did before.

As an ecommerce operator that presents a new set of challenges – With video creation being normally time and budget consuming, how can you quickly provide your site with video content in order to ensure you end up on the right side of the Panda update?

Enter Treepodia Product Videos

Treepodia’s automated product video generation platform instantly adds a short video clip to each product page on your site, regardless of how many products you’re offering, and guarantees your site will capitalize on Google’s Panda update’s preference for video intensive sites.

Check out the following implementations to see what it looks like on a working ecommerce website (look for the “play video” buttons):

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Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/3581217785