I Saw You Coming You Big Ol Panda

Google Panda?

Not to toot my own horn, but I feel like I saw the ramifications of the recent Google Panda update growing since he was just a little cub.

I’ve said this in past blog posts, but my motto when it comes to SEO- “If everyone can do it, or it’s too easy- it probably isn’t worth much”, and, as always, the fine people at Google agree.

Can anyone write an article, spin it a few times, and submit it to 50 different free article directories using a tool that they pay $30 a month for so they can get more backlinks to their site? Yep.

Can anyone pay an offshore writer $10 to write a crappy article to have posted on their site which was probably copied from other sources anyway? Yep.

Can anyone add a feature to their site where anyone with an email address can login and post whatever content they’d like without any type of approval process before the content is posted? Yep.

And can anyone put up a site loaded with crappy and/or duplicated content, with every page packed with Adsense banners and “Your link here” messages, with visions of making $500 a day while spending 9-5 on a boat somewhere in the Caribbean? Maybe up until a few months ago (hopefully).

I used to hate seeing writers’ resumes on Craigslist offering quality, researched content at bargain basement prices because there were so many other content providers out there and so many webmasters looking for cheap content willing to hire them that they couldn’t bill for what they were worth. I’m not sure if it’s irony or not, but the same people that put traditional journalists and news reporters all but out of business are the same people who were working for day laborer rates as they were doing it, and Google is just now starting to do something about it.

Some might say that SEO is solely responsible for it all, because a good SEO’er can get a site to page one for pretty much anything, no matter how crappy the content is. This may be true- a lot of SEO is knowing how to screw the system and be smarter than a computer/spider, but that doesn’t mean that the shady SEO tactics of others is solely to blame.

What about the development community- who, by introducing free content management and blogging platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and Blogger, pretty much anyone can have an entire website (or number of websites) up in the matter of minutes?  What about the domain registrars- who offer domains at prices low enough, partnered with hosting partners, for someone to manage and launch hundreds of sites for a few bucks a month? I’m not complaining about any of these of course, because I use WordPress, and I launched this blog for about $10 up front and $7/month.

The question I read earlier that prompted me to write this blog post was- “Is content still the key”.

And my response?

Content was NEVER the key. People were, and still are, the key.

People who actually read, edit, and approve/deny the content that is on a website.

People (and not pieces of software or catchy tools) who go out and promote pages of a site through link building, social media marketing, and networking.

People who design and code EACH website to be up to industry standards, and designate page titles, meta descriptions, and other on-page attributes for each page.

People who review each website/web page to determine if it’s included in Google’s index? Probably not. But the funny part about it is- everyone taking the cheap, easy, automated route is what resulted in this happening in the first place, and at the end of the day, after webmasters and businesses scramble to figure out how to get back their visibility and search rankings- Google is still just a really smart robot.

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