Panda Updates – Changing the Landscape for Realtors

Panda Update 2.2 – What Google Says

Google’s Panda update appears to have taken more of a toll on websites around the world than first thought. Some sites are suffering significant traffic losses. Large sites are particular vulnerable to losses and owners are trying to figure out what to do and if a recovery is possible.

Google says this Panda update (I don’t think the name has reference to anything) was implemented manually, which means those hit by the algo update are going to be stuck until they run it again. If your site has lost traffic or you are planning on building content and are wondering how to avoid incurring Google’s wrath, there are things you can do to get your content indexed.

The Panda update is tough to understand as many big sites with poor, repetitive, and redundant content weren’t hit by it. However, if Google keeps running minor updates to the algorithm, it will continue to hit increasingly more sites.

In the real estate sector, MLS listings are typically repetitive. The same data is presented on numerous realtor websites. Standard MLS IDX implementation just puts the same listings details into the same type of page. Customization of the page is not enable or permitted. From real estate site to real estate site, the only difference is the page header and footer. But on each page in a particular realtor’s site, that is repetitive.

It makes sense from Google’s perspective that getting rid of these redundant mls listings posted on so many realtor’s sites will free up clutter on their search index. What I’ve seen so far, is that only a small group of realtors will be listed for a particular MLS property while all the others will be deleted. 

See this result for a search for mls # C3480290 for example. Google’s whittled down to a page or two of results.

MLS Listing Search

Here’s what Google says regarding the Panda Update:

Of course, we aren’t disclosing the actual ranking signals used in our algorithms because we don’t want folks to game our search results; but if you want to step into Google’s mindset, the questions below provide some guidance on how we’ve been looking at the issue:

•Would you trust the information presented in your page?

• Is your page written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?

• Does your site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?

• Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to your site?

• Do your page have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?

• Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

• Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?

• Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

• How much quality control is done on content?

• Does your page describe both sides of a story?

• Is your site a recognized authority on its topic?

• Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

• Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

• For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?

• Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?

• Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?

• Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

• Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

• Does your article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

• Would you expect to see your page/article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

• Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?

• Are your pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?

• Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

Writing an algorithm to assess page or site quality is a much harder task, but we hope the questions above give some insight into how we try to write algorithms that distinguish higher-quality sites from lower-quality sites.

As you can see, there is no way a search engine can determine all of the above criteria from spidering pages. Only articles written by journalists would qualify for ranking. It’s basically Google requesting that you organize your topics and write in a prescribed way that will compensate for their algorithm’s shortcomings.

The important thing about the Panda Update is that Google can be autocratic and capricious and at this time they’re demanding that website owners produce entirely original content. Since original content is difficult to produce, especially in volume, it puts extreme pressure on SEO people to create content that will work.

This update is forcing clients to rethink how much effort and expense will be needed to rule the rankings in future.  Obviously, for any market leader in any category, it will be much more expensive to win the rankings wars and ultimately run a successful online business.

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