Tag Archive | "Important"

How Donald Trump, Heart Palpitations And A Trip To The Hospital Delivered An Important Reminder Of The Power Of Your Mind

Note From Yaro: This article is from my Change Manifesto series. Entrepreneurs-Journey.com and ChangeManifesto.com are being merged into my one main website, Yaro.blog, the umbrella brand for all my work going forward.  It was Tuesday night, election night in the USA. I was sitting on a couch in an AirBNB rental house in Venice Beach […]

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Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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What Is A Strategy Versus A Tactic? (And Why It’s So Important You Understand The Difference)

Inside the Blog Profits Blueprint I talk about a key distinction, the difference between strategies and tactics when it comes to online marketing and building a blog-based business. Here’s a relevant quote from the Blueprint: Strategies are in place to educate your mind about why things happen. Strategy helps you understand outcomes and helps predict […]

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Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Important Announcement: I’m Quitting Coaching

This year is the final year I am going to offer group coaching. It’s time to move on, so there’s lots to talk about… Back in 2007 I released my first online course, Blog Mastermind 1.0. As part of that course I began running private group coaching teleconferences for my members. As bandwidth and technology […]

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Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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SEO ranking factors: What’s important, what’s not

This week, Google celebrated its 19th birthday. A lot has changed in nearly two decades. Rather than relying primarily on PageRank to evaluate the quality of web pages, Google now uses a whole array of techniques to suggest a wide range of content in response to queries, from simple direct answers…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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My Business Made $153,428 While I Was Traveling In Europe Because I Made One Important Change Years Ago

Hello from beautiful Lviv Ukraine, the town I presently call home. I’ve had a very busy 2017, traveling from Toronto to Vancouver, then Paris, Nice, Monaco, Lviv, Kiev, back to Paris for the French Open tennis, London, Valencia, Barcelona, Warsaw, and then back to Lviv. Traveling this frequently is not…

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Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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3 Important SEO Steps to Take Right Away

"True masters of search engine optimization are masters of listening and empathy." – Jerod Morris

What if we’re thinking about SEO all wrong?

You won’t be shocked to see such a question posed on this site — one that harbors posts in its archive with headlines like SEO is Dead and What if You Could Simply Eliminate SEO from Your Life?

Don’t get me wrong: we’re not anti-SEO.

Heck, we were recently awarded a U.S. patent for the Content Optimizer we developed that now powers the SEO tools bundled with our premium WordPress hosting.

We’re just anti some of the misguided notions and incomplete narratives about SEO that masquerade as good advice.

And one of the most fundamental mistakes I see people make is not fully appreciating the full breadth of each of the three terms that comprise S-E-O: Search. Engine. Optimization.

Notice the placement of that first period after “Search.”

It’s time to think beyond traditional notions of “search engines”

It’s easy to group the terms “search” and “engine” together. And for a long, long time, it made sense to do so.

When we used to discuss “search engine optimization,” we were mostly talking about searches typed into Google, perhaps Bing, or (going back further) Yahoo.

But now it’s 2017.

The new search

Gone are the days of only typed searches. People now conduct more and more searches with voice commands. A recent article on Forbes, 2017 Will Be the Year of Voice Search, makes a compelling case.

And who knows what will happen when we all have chips implanted in our brains that can read our thoughts. We might just be able to think our search and get results via the screens on our contact lenses. ”</p

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When to Send Article Pitches (and Other Important Emails)

"Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost ripe." – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

It feels good when you’ve done your research before pitching an article idea to an editor:

  • You know the publication’s audience
  • You know your topic offers value in unique ways
  • You know the editor’s content preferences and pet peeves

But you’re not done yet.

Although hitting the “send” button on your email seems like an inconsequential step in your article pitching process, I recommend pausing before you take that action.

That moment of excited impatience could spoil all the important research you’ve just performed.

Caution: avoid these days of the week

Have you ever suggested a fun activity to a friend, significant other, or family member when they’re in a bad mood, and they immediately decline?

Although they would normally love your idea, you’ve asked them at a time when they don’t want to be bothered.

I compare that experience to submitting an article pitch to an editor on a Friday or Monday.

Friday is a day to wrap up the workweek before the weekend and organize upcoming tasks.

Monday is a day to catch up from the weekend and start juggling pressing priorities.

When you reach out to someone you don’t know, your email might get lost in the hustle and bustle of those busy days. If you’ve worked with the editor before, it still might not be a priority to review your article pitch promptly.

Another warning

My theory about Fridays and Mondays is absolutely not a strict rule. After all, an editor may have requested that you submit a pitch to them on a Friday or Monday.

It’s simply a way to think about reaching out to someone when they might be more receptive to hearing your idea.

Keeping that guideline in mind, I’ve had a high success rate of getting responses from editors over the years.

Short-term and long-term to-do lists

We all have to prioritize our work, and there are two common types of to-do lists.

  • Short-term to-do lists: work that must get done that day … or that week
  • Long-term to-do lists: work that is not a top priority but needs to get done eventually

If you send an article pitch on a Friday or Monday, the editor might want to respond. But as they prioritize their work, your email could end up on their long-term to-do list (or even their I-keep-forgetting-about-that list).

Instead, if you send an important email on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, replying to your email might be viewed as a short-term to-do list item. It’s often a lot easier to tackle work as it comes in once the week is rolling along.

I used the phrase “an important email” above because this advice can also be applied to optimize your chances of reaching anyone (coworkers, managers, dental hygienists, etc.) at a favorable time.

People are people

You’re not sending a message to a continually enthusiastic robot that reviews all of the emails they receive with perfect objectivity and care.

You’re emailing another person … a human being.

Ask yourself:

How important is the content of this email for the recipient? Is it helpful to have this information right now? Or, is it just important to me because of the time and effort I’ve spent crafting it?

If it’s mainly important to you, is there a better time to send the email?

There may not be.

But pausing here gives you a chance to think about whether or not the person may prefer to receive it at another time.

What do you know about their current schedule? Do they have more free time the following week? If it’s an article pitch, would waiting to submit your idea until later in the year be beneficial?

Unless an email is urgent, I’ll wait a few days and then decide if it makes sense to send it or continue to wait.

What if you don’t hear back from the editor?

Of course, there is no guarantee you’ll get a quick reply — or any reply — even if you carefully choose when to send an email.

I like the Two-Week Rule when following up with an editor. One week can go by quickly, but after two weeks, it’s reasonable to check in to see if the editor is considering your topic.

And if you do get a response, it might not be the “Yes” you want to hear.

Pitches that are poorly researched or have grammar errors and typos will likely get marked as spam.

If you submit an article to a publication that doesn’t review unsolicited pitches, you likely won’t get a response no matter how compelling your topic is.

For example, Copyblogger does not currently review unsolicited guest post pitches.

There are also many factors out of your control, so be patient and don’t take any response personally.

Trust the editor’s judgment.

A different publication may be an even better fit for your idea … and a rejection from one editor creates an opportunity to explore other options.

Over to you …

What are your tips for sending article pitches to editors? Are there any days of the week or traps you avoid?

Let us know in the comments below.

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Copyblogger

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The Unusual (but Important) Combination of Creative Fulfillment and SEO

The Unusual (but Important) Combination of Creative Fulfillment and SEO

This year on Copyblogger, each month has a theme — and in March, it’s search engine optimization.

That’s great news for some of you, and terrible news for others. If you’d rather eat a bug than think about SEO, you and I have much in common. On Monday, I wrote about some solid SEO advice that won’t have you contemplating a heaping bowlful of breakfast crickets.

I also gave you some simple, “you-can-totally-do-this” suggestions on Copyblogger FM. And on The Digital Entrepreneur, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick talked with SEO wizard Eric Enge about how search optimization has matured over the years and why it’s still important.

On Tuesday, Beth Hayden gave us a little gentle, user-friendly advice on keyword research. Finding your keyword phrases shouldn’t be a robotic process — it’s really about learning more about your audience and how they think.

Everyone on the editorial team has decided that Stefanie Flaxman won the week, with a Loverboy headline reference on Wednesday, combined with the subhead “The eye-roll heard round the world.” Well-played, Stefanie. This is a great post, too, about why writing actually is a pretty cool and amazing thing to do with your life.

Today we also published a new pair of Content Challenge prompts! These are exercises we do together as a community to get better at what we do … and more productive so we can make more great things happen.

Keep those creative thoughts flowing, and don’t overdo it on the breakfast crickets …

Hey, and don’t forget — tomorrow is the last day to try out StudioPress Sites with a free introductory month. You can click this link to get started, but the free month deal will go away Friday (tomorrow) at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital


Catch up on this week’s content


some of us would rather eat a bug than try to figure out what headless crawling meansThe Wise Content Marketer’s Guide to Sensible SEO

by Sonia Simone


this is not a time to guess or assume you know your audience so well that you know what they’re thinking3 Simple and Effective Keyword Research Tips

by Beth Hayden


find the space where hard work and fun coexistEverybody’s Working for the Weekday

by Stefanie Flaxman


2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The March Prompts2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The March Prompts

by Sonia Simone


Does SEO Still Matter?Does SEO Still Matter?

by Sean Jackson & Jessica Frick


Brian Clark on the Productive Insights PodcastBrian Clark on the Productive Insights Podcast

by Caroline Early


10 Quality Factors Search Engines Need to See on Your Site10 Quality Factors Search Engines Need to See on Your Site

by Sonia Simone


Designing Your Lifestyle with EntrepreneurismDesigning Your Lifestyle with Entrepreneurism

by Brian Clark


How the Author of ‘The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking’ Oliver Burkeman Writes: Part OneHow the Author of ‘The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking’ Oliver Burkeman Writes: Part One

by Kelton Reid


9 Steps to Becoming a Better Podcast Listener (And Why That Matters)9 Steps to Becoming a Better Podcast Listener (And Why That Matters)

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor


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Copyblogger

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Just How Long Are Big-Company SEOs Waiting for Their Most Important Changes?

Posted by willcritchlow

What would you say if I told you that the average SEO at a big company has been waiting over six months for their highest priority technical change and doesn’t anticipate seeing it deployed for at least another six months? (40+% have been waiting over a year).

If you work in that kind of environment, there’s a good chance you’re not surprised, and if you’ve worked as a consultant and your experience is anything like mine, you might even be asking yourself “is that all?” It’s such a common challenge, and it’s so core to our fundamental goal of making a real difference for our clients, that the ability to effect change has even made it into Distilled’s core values.

Challenges in this area are a growing problem for big companies. As startups in particular come to grips with continuous deployment and similar approaches that bring agility to their processes, big companies risk being left behind on an aging technology stack.

Fred Wilson deploys code at Etsy

Board member Fred Wilson deploys code at Etsy. Photo credit.

The stats I opened with came from surveying a range of SEOs at big companies — a couple of dozen people responsible for billions of pageviews/month. I put together a survey form, sought out suitable people to respond — from mine and Distilled’s extended network — and then focused in on those managing big sites.

I’m still very interested in hearing more thoughts on this topic by the way, so if you haven’t shared your experiences with me, you can still go ahead and do that:

Take the Enterprise SEO Survey

If I get tons of new data, I’ll happily return to update this post.

My goal was to hear more about the real problems faced by enterprise SEOs and to collate that information for all of you so that we can all become more effective. To do this, I asked:

  • What is the technical change you are most desperate to make to your site that’s been difficult to get done?
  • How long have you been waiting for this change?
  • When do you anticipate you will finally see it live?
  • What is holding it up?
  • How big of a problem is this kind of thing for your organization?

Breakdown of the responses

Here’s how long people have been waiting for the technical change they are most desperate to get implemented (42% have been waiting longer than a year):

How long enterprise SEOs have been waiting for their top change

And most (58%) don’t anticipate seeing that change live for at least another 6 months:

How long enterprise SEOs anticipate waiting for their top priority change

Why does this happen?

The most common reasons given for the inability to get their top priority changes made were:

  • Marketing team priorities fall behind those of other teams (53%)
  • The change they want is “not possible” with current platform (37%)
  • Every change has to pass through a long dev backlog (32%)

The full range of answers can be mainly bucketed into two big reasons:

  1. Difficulty in proving the value in advance or making the business case
  2. Legacy technology or outdated processes hampering progress

Is it a big deal?

While the most common response was that it was “just” a serious frustration, almost half of the people I spoke to (47%) reported that inability to make these kinds of changes is stopping their team hitting their objectives or cramping the performance of the whole company:

How much of a problem this is to enterprise SEOs

Given the scale of company we are talking about here, this is incredible — especially for the fifth of people who said it’s cramping the performance of the whole company. That turns it from some geek thing into a burning issue for senior leadership.

What should we do about it?

1. Get better at consulting (even in-house)

The quickest win (which can feel like cheating) is to improve our personal consulting, persuasion, and communication skills. Getting things done sometimes comes down to making our case more effectively — either with more data or with a better argument. Some resources that you might find useful here include:

2. Make better business cases

One specific part of consulting skills that is particularly important in getting things done in big orgs is the ability to build a business case. This requires financial/data analysis skills, but it’s important to remember that it’s not enough to make an Excel model — you also need to tell the story (see some of the resources above).

I spoke on this subject a couple of years ago at our San Diego SearchLove conference in 2013 in a talk about technical (slides here, video here [behind a paywall — if you don’t have a DistilledU account, you can use this link to get access to that video for free]). I talked about:

  1. Winning hearts as well as minds — with descriptions of your vision, competitor comparisons, proof that customers care etc.
  2. Preparing like you are going to have to go into a meeting with Jeff Bezos (I love some of the stories here and you should particularly read about Steve Yegge’s experiences)

We’re getting really excited about the kinds of business cases we are able to build with split-testing. When you can present data like this, it gets way easier to get things done:

SEO split test results

(That’s a screenshot from our new tool — ODN — by the way. If you’d like a demo, you can register your interest here).

3. Make things better over time

All of the problems I’ve talked about here are compounded by technical debt. A great goal for enterprise/in-house folks is to build the flywheels and to do the things now that will make all of this easier in the future. Upgrading core infrastructure, getting towards continuous integration and fast deployment, and improving slow processes all have long-term ROI.

In particular, getting in place tools like tag management move many kinds of change directly into the hands of the marketing team. This is again our thinking behind building our ODN tool — in addition to building business cases, it’s designed to get changes live in the interim until they can be fully built-out into the back-end.

I think my best general recommendations in this area are to start with the lean startup — I had read some articles about it, but it was only when I saw Eric Ries speak (before I’d read the book) that I truly “got it” about what he was calling an MVP which is actually closer to what Rand called marketing first than it is to building an ugly prototype. This image explains it well:


Some more resources:

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments — and don’t forget that if you are in charge of search for a big site, I’d still love to hear your experiences in the survey:

Take the Enterprise SEO Survey

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

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The Most Important Things We Learned About Google’s Panda Algo

Posted by jenstar

Webmasters were caught by surprise two weeks ago, when Google released many new statements about their Panda algorithm to The SEM Post. Traditionally, Google tends to be rather quiet about their search algorithms, but their new comments were a departure from this. Google was quite transparent and shared a lot of new Panda-related information that many SEOs weren’t aware of.

Here are what I consider to be the top new takeaways from Google about the Panda algorithm. These are all things that SEOs can put into action, either to create new, great-quality content or to increase the quality value of their current content.

First, the Panda algorithm is specifically about content. It’s not about links, it’s not about mobile-friendliness, it’s not about having an HTTPS site. Rather, the Panda algorithm rewards great-quality content by demoting content that’s either quite spammy in nature or that’s simply not very good.

Now, here are the most important things you should know about Panda, including some of the mistakes and misconceptions about the algorithm update that have confused even the expert SEOs.

Removing content Google considers good

One big issue is that many SEOs have been promoting the widespread removal of content from websites that were hit by Panda. In actuality, however, what many webmasters don’t realize is that they could be shooting themselves in the foot by doing this.

When performing content audits, many penalty experts will cut a wide swath through the site’s content and remove it. Whether claiming that X% of content needs to be removed to recover from Panda or that older, less fresh content needs to be removed, doing this without the proper research will cause rankings to decrease even further. It’s never a “surefire Panda recovery tactic,” despite what some might say.

Unfortunately for SEOs, there’s no magic formula to recover from Panda when it comes to the quantity, age, or length of the content on the site. Instead, you need to look at each page to determine its value. The last thing you want to do is remove pages that are actually helping.

Fortunately, we have the tools to be able to determine the “good versus bad” when it comes to figuring out what Google considers quality. And the answer is in both Google Analytics (or whatever your preferred site analytics program is) and in Google Search Console.

If Google is sending traffic to a page, then it considers it quality enough to rank. If you were going to remove one of these pages because it was written a few years ago or because it was below a magic word count threshold, you would lose all the future traffic Google would send to that page.

If you’re determined to remove content, at least verify that Google isn’t sending those pages traffic before you add to your Panda problems by losing more traffic.

Your content should match the search query

We all laugh when we look in our Google Search Console Search Analytics and see the funny keywords people search for. However, part of providing quality content is also delivering those content expectations. In other words, if a search is repeatedly bringing visitors to a specific page, you’ll want to make sure that page delivers the promised content.

From the Panda Algo Guide:

A Google spokesperson also took it a step further and suggested using it also to identify pages where the search query isn’t quite matching the delivered content. “If you believe your site is affected by the Panda algorithm, in Search Console’s Search Analytics feature you can identify the queries which lead to pages that provide overly vague information or don’t seem to satisfy the user need for a query.”

So if your site has been impacted by Panda — or you’re concerned it might be and want to be proactive — start matching up popular queries with their pages, making sure you’re fully delivering on those content query expectations. While this won’t be as big of a concern for sites not impacted by Panda, it’s something to keep in mind if you do notice those “odd” keywords popping up with frequency.

Ensuring your content matches the query is also one of the easiest Panda fixes you can do, although it might take some legwork to spot those queries that under-deliver. Often, it’s just a matter of slightly tweaking a paragraph or two, or adding an additional few paragraphs to change the content for those queries from “meh” to “awesome.” And if you deliver that content on the visitor’s landing page, it means they’re more likely to stick around, view more of your content, and share it with others — rather than hitting the back button to find a page that does answer their query.

Fixable? Or kill it with fire?

“Fixing” versus “removing” is another area where many experts disagree. Luckily, it’s been one of the areas that Google has been pretty vocal about if you know where to find those comments.

Google has been a longtime advocate of fixing poor quality content. Both Gary Illyes and John Mueller have repeatedly talked about improving the quality of content.

In a hangout, John Mueller said:

Overall, the quality of the site should be significantly improved so we can trust the content. Sometimes what we see with a site like that will have a lot of thin content, maybe there’s content you are aggregating from other sources, maybe there’s user-generated content where people are submitting articles that are kind of low quality, and those are all the things you might want to look at and say what can I do; on the one hand, hand if I want to keep these articles, maybe prevent these from appearing in search.

Now, there are always edge cases, and this is what many experts get hung up on. The important thing to remember is that Google’s not talking about those weird, random edge cases, but rather what applies to most websites. Is it forum spam for the latest and greatest Uggs seller? Of course, you’ll want to remove or noindex it. But if it’s the content you hired your next-door neighbor to write for you, or “original” content you bought off of Fiverr? Improve it instead.

If you do have thin content that you’ll want to upgrade in the future, you can always noindex it for now. If it’s not indexable by Google, it’s not going to hurt you, from a Panda perspective. However, it’s important to note that you still need to have enough quality content on your site, even if you’re noindexing or removing the bad stuff.

This is also what Google recommended in the Panda Algo Guide:

A Google spokesperson also said this, when referring to lower quality pages. “Instead of deleting those pages, your goal should be to create pages that don’t fall in that category: pages that provide unique value for your users who would trust your site in the future when they see it in the results.”

Still determined to remove it after checking all the facts? Gary Illyes gave suggestions during his keynote at Pubcon last year on how to remove thin content properly.

Ranking with Panda

One of the most surprising revelations from Google is that sites can still rank while being affected by Panda. While there are certainly instances where Panda impacts an entire site, and this is probably true in the majority of cases, it is possible that only some pages are negatively impacted by Panda. This is yet another reason you want to be careful when removing pages.

From the Panda Algo Guide:

What most people are seeing are sites that have content that is overwhelmingly poor quality, so it can seem that an entire site is affected. But if a site does have quality content on a page, those pages can continue to rank.

A Google spokesperson confirmed this as well.

The Panda algorithm may continue to show such a site for more specific and highly-relevant queries, but its visibility will be reduced for queries where the site owner’s benefit is disproportionate to the user’s benefit.

This comment reinforces the idea from Google that a key part of Panda is where Google feels the site owner is getting the most benefit from a visitor to their site, rather than vice-versa.

Duplicate content

One of the first things that webmasters do when they get hit by Panda is freak out over duplicate content. And while managing your duplicate content is always a good idea from a technical standpoint, it doesn’t actually play any kind of a role in Panda, as confirmed by John Mueller late last year.

And even then, John Mueller described fixing duplicate content on a priority scale as “somewhere in the sidebar or even quite low on the list.” In other words, focus on what Panda is impacting first, then clean up the non-Panda related technical details at the end.

Bottom line: Duplicate content can certainly affect your SEO. But from a Panda perspective, if your main focus is on getting your site ranking well again in Google after a Panda hit, leave it until the end. Google is usually pretty good about sorting it out, and if not, it’s fixable with either some redirects or canonicals.

Word count

Many webmasters fixate on the idea that content has to be a certain number of words to be deemed “Panda-proof.” There are plenty of instances of thousand-word articles that are extremely poor quality, and other examples of content so great that even having only a hundred or so words will trigger a featured snippet… something Google tends to give only to higher-quality sites.

Now, if you’re writing content, there’s nothing wrong with trying to set up certain benchmarks for the number of words — especially if you have contributors or you’re hiring writers. There’s no issue with that. The issue is with falsely believing that word count is related to quality, both in Google’s eyes and from the Panda algo perspective.

It’s very dangerous to assume that because an article or post is under a specific word count that it needs to be removed or improved. Instead, as with the case of considering whether you should remove content, look to see whether Google is sending referrals to those pages. If they’re ranking and receiving traffic from Google, word count is not an issue.

Advertising & affiliate links

The role that both advertising and affiliate links play in Google Panda is an interesting one. This isn’t to say that all advertising is bad or all affiliate links are bad. It’s a topic that John Mueller from Google has brought up in his Google Hangouts, as well. The problem is the content surrounding it — how much there is and what it’s like.

Where there’s an impact is in the amount of advertising and affiliate links. Will Google consider a page that is essentially just affiliate links without any quality content as good? It’s not that Panda is specifically targeting ads or affiliate content. There are lots of awesome affiliate sites out there that rank really well and are not affected by Panda whatsoever.

The problem lies in the disconnect between the balance of useful content and monetization. At Pubcon, Gary Illyes said the value to the visitor should be higher than the value to the site owner. But as we see on many sites, that balance has tipped the other way, where the visitor is seen merely as a means of revenue, without concern about giving that visitor any value back.

You don’t need to hit your visitors over the head with a huge amount of advertising and affiliate links to make money. That visitor brings a lot of additional value to your site when they don’t feel your site is too ad heavy. From the Panda Algo Guide:

There are also benefits from traffic even if it doesn’t convert into a click on an affiliate link. Maybe they share it on social media, maybe they recommend it to someone, or they return at a later time, remembering the good user experience from the previous visit.

A Google spokesperson also said, “Users not only remember but also voluntarily spread the word about the quality of the site, because the content is produced with care, it’s original, and shows that the author is truly an expert in the topic of the site.” And this is where many affiliate sites run into problems.

There’s another thing that often happens when a website is hit by Panda: naturally, the revenue from the ads they do have on the site goes down. Unfortunately, often the response to this loss of revenue is to increase the number of ads or affiliate links to compensate. But this degrades the value of the content even further and, despite the knee-jerk reaction, is not the appropriate move in a Panda-busting plan.

Bottom line: There is absolutely nothing wrong with having advertising or affiliate links on a site. That alone won’t cause a Panda issue. What can cause a Panda issue, rather, is how and how much you present these things. Ads and affiliate links should support your content, not overwhelm it.

User-generated content

What about user-generated content? Sadly, it’s getting a pretty bad rap these days. But it’s getting this reputation for the crappy user-generated content out there, not for the high-quality user generated content you see on sites. Many so-called experts advise removing all user-generated content, when again that’s one of those moves that can negatively impact your site.

Instead, look at the actual user-generated content you have your site and decide whether it’s quality or not. For example, YouMoz is considered to be fairly high-quality user generated content: all posts still have to be approved by editors, and only a small percent of submitted articles make it live on the site. Even then, their editors also work to improve and edit the pieces as necessary, ensuring that even though it is user-generated content, it’s still high quality.

But like any content on the web, user-generated or not, there are different levels of quality. If your user-generated content quality is very high, then you have nothing to worry about. You could have a different contributor for every single article if you wanted to. It has nothing to do with how you obtained the content for your site, but rather how high-quality and valuable that content is.

Likewise, with forums or community-driven sites where all the content is user-contributed, it’s about how quality that content is — not about who contributes it. Sites like Stackoverflow have hundreds of thousands of contributors, yet it’s considered very high-quality and it does extremely well in the Google search results.

If your user-generated content has both its high point and its low point regarding quality, there are a few things actions that Google recommends so that the lower-quality content doesn’t drag down the entire site. John Mueller said if you can recognize the types of lower-quality content on the forum or the patterns that tend to match it, then you can block it from being indexed by Google. This might mean noindexing your welcome forum where people are posting introductions about themselves, or blocking the chitchat forums while leaving the helpful Q&A as indexable.

And, of course, you need to deal with any spam in your user-generated content, whether it’s something like YouMoz or a forum for people who all love a specific hobby. Have good guidelines in place to prevent your active users from spamming or link-dropping. And use some of the many forum add-ons that identify and remove spam before Google can even see it.

Do not follow the advice of those who say all user-generated content is bad… it’s not. Just ensure that it’s high quality, and you won’t have a problem with Panda from the start.

Commenting

You may have noticed a trend lately: Many blogs and news sites are removing comments from their sites completely. When you do this, though, you’re removing a signal that Google can use that shows how well people are responding to your content. Like any content, comments aren’t all bad simply because they’re comments — their quality is the deciding factor, and this will vary.

And it’s not just the Google perspective that dictates why you should keep them. Having a comment section can keep visitors coming back to your site to check for new commentary, and it can often offer additional insights and viewpoints on the content. Communities can even form around comment sections. And, of course, it adds more content.

But, like user-generated content, you need to make sure you’re keeping it high quality. Have a good comments policy in place; if you’re in doubt, don’t approve the comment. Your goal is to keep those comments high-quality, and if there’s any suspicion (such as a username of “Buy Keyword Now,” or it’s nothing more than an “I agree” comment), just don’t allow it.

That said, allowing low-quality comments can affect the site, something John Mueller has confirmed. I wouldn’t panic over a handful of low-quality comments, but if the overall value of the comments is pretty low, you probably want to weed them out, keep the high-quality comments, and be a little bit more discriminating going forward.

Technical issues

No, technical issues do not cause Panda. However, it’s still a widespread belief that things like page speed, duplicate content, or even what TLD the site is on can have an impact on Panda. This is not accurate at all.

That said, these kinds of technical issues do have an impact on your overall rankings — just not for Panda reasons. So, it’s best practice to ensure your page speed is good, you’re not running long redirect chains, and your URL structure is good; all these things do affect your overall SEO with Google’s core algorithm. With regards to recovering from Panda, though, it doesn’t have an impact at all.

“Core” Algo

One of the surprises was the addition of the core algo comment, where Google revealed to The SEM Post that Panda was now part of the core algorithm. But what does this mean? Is it even important to the average SEO?

The answer is no. Previously, Panda was a filter added after the core search algo. Now, while it’s moved to become part of that core algo, Panda itself is essentially the same, and it still impacts websites the same way.

Google confirmed the same. Gary Illyes from Google commented on it being one of the worst takeaways from all the Panda news.

A2. I think this is the worst takeway of the past few days, but imagine an engine of a car. It used to be that there was no starter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starter_(engine)), the driver had to go in front of the car, and use some tool to start the engine. Today we have starters in any petrol engine, it’s integrated. It became more convenient, but essentially nothing changed.

For a user or even a webmaster it should not matter at all which components live where, it’s really irrelevant, and that’s why I think people should focus on these “interesting” things less.

It really doesn’t make a difference from an SEO’s perspective, despite the initial speculation it might have.

Overall

Google released a lot of great Panda information last week, and all of it contained advice that SEOs can put into action immediately — whether to ensure their site is Panda-proofed, or to fix a site that had been slapped by Panda previously.

The bottom line: Create high-level, quality content for your websites, and you won’t have to worry about Pandas.

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