How Marketers Can Brace for Google Panda 40 Update

Here's how long marketers will wait to see effects on Google's update to its search results ranking algorithm:

About zero seconds.

In other words, it's already happening.

Google's search results ranking algorithm got another update last month as the Mountain View, Calif., search giant released Panda 4.0.

Marketers should take note, especially since more than 70 percent of searches online take place in Google.

"The effects are almost immediate," Seth Besmertnik, CEO and co-founder of web presence management provider Conductor, told CMSWire. "Years ago, algorithm changes took weeks to roll out, and you would sometimes have to wait months from when you make a change to see if it ‘worked’. But now this is almost instant. Our customers are seeing changes right away."

Four Years Running

Google told us earlier that Panda 4.0 affects different languages to different degrees. In English, for example, the impact is 7.5 percent of queries that are affected to a degree that a regular user might notice.

The first Google Panda release came in March 2010, an algorithm update that significantly affected certain sites to the point that some webmasters reported traffic declines so bad they said it drove them out of business.

Google wanted to lower the rank of "low-quality sites," and return higher-quality sites near the top of the search results.  

How much effort should marketers/brands be putting into search and Google results today?

"Marketers should be putting an incredible amount of effort into getting found on Google," Besmertnik said. "In 2014, this is the No. 1 way to get discovered on the Internet. It’s the No. 1 way consumers research, inform and decide on what to purchase almost all verticals. This is why Google’s stock is higher then it’s ever been before."

Besmertnik added that for every person who goes to Google, more than 90 percent go to the organic search results versus the paid. He called this an "exciting opportunity."

"So even though Google is selling a lot of ‘clicks,’ the vast majority go to organic results which if you make great content, you can earn your way in front of those consumers," he added.

As a result, Besmertnik said, companies have been investing in SEO more and more every year. In 2011, there were 250,000 people in the world that had SEO in the job title/description, according to Besmertnik. Fast forward to today, and that number is nearly 1.5 million.

"This is because companies are aggressively investing their web presence and getting found in Google," he added.

Here Comes Panda

So what initial steps can marketers take in terms of preparation the Google Panda update? Besmertnik said:

It’s really about making great content that answers the questions of consumers. Panda is all about filtering out bad content that is spammy, aggregated or not useful. If you make great content yourself then you have nothing to worry about. There are no shortcuts anymore. You must make great content as Google has said for years."

Marketers spend billions on paid media and banner advertising, yet consumers in 21st century do not want to be "hit in the head with ads," Besmertnik said.

"They want great content, and SEO is the best way to do this," he added. "It’s why organic search is the No. 1 traffic source for most successful brands and e-commerce companies."

Too Much Control?

Should Google have this much leverage?

A commenter on CMSWire's story last month said, "The time has come for Google to become regulated. Like mortgage lenders, utility companies and the majority of monopolies, organizations which hold such power over business and consumers ought to be subject to independent oversight."

Is it time for regulation?

"While I agree Google has a lot of control and could use that control harmfully," Besmertnik said, "I think the government could make it worse. There is no right or wrong in terms of who should rank. It’s an algorithm that Google owns. However, I do think it’s worth third parties keeping an eye on them to make sure they are focus on the consumer and not pushing their own products vs. the best product." 

Title image by ievgen sosnytskyi (Shutterstock).