Panda Schmanda – Create sites for people, not SERPs

The “lesson” is to build websites that provide true value to readers and not to take shortcuts to try to attract readers without providing that value.

WoW – there sure has been a lot of bellyaching by people on the forums (affiliate marketing forums, that is, such as ABestWeb and some others) and many, many Internet marketing blogs. Too many people for too long a time have been trying to “game the system” to give their e-commerce site(s) an edge in the Search Engine Results Pages – SERPs. The largest search engine, Google, this year has made several ranking (algorithm) changes designed to produce better search results for readers when they search for something. Isn’t that the ways its supposed to be?

One of the “names” given to some of those changes is “Panda” – hence my title. So…there are many people crying the blues about being hurt with the changes. That would not be the case had those people (trying to earn a living online) actually designed sites of true value for their readers.

We run a series of sites designed to help readers learn about places to visit and we sell hotel reservations and travel supplies (and in some cases, even furniture for use in their vacation homes and condos). We primarily build our site content to provide information about the places the travelers/vacationers want to be and show them, in pictures, what they can expect to see when they get there. That has always brought readers to our site(s) and while they are there, if they like what we provide, they are likely to make a purchase originating with our site. If they appreciate the information we have assembled they (our readers) may also “bookmark us” to return again, send a link to a friend to share what they found, or even post a link to our site from their own site (or blog or FB page).

In May there were two “adjustments” that created an uproar among the site owners who manipulated content and links and used other “techniques” to advance their sites in the SERPs. We NEVER played those games and are happy that a lot of spammy sites got replaced with solid content sites. Here is a screen shot of stats for one of our sites – to show the traffic increases –  because of our search results improving as many “less useful” sites were denigrated in the SERPs.

traffic increase graph
Can you tell on which two dates the search algorithm changes were made?

Yes, changes were made on the 13th and the 24th. Poor quality sites were lowered in ranking and sites providing value to their readers were, consequently, raised higher up in the search results. Some webmasters spent thousand of dollars to manipulate the system and eventually learned (the hard way) that quality wins out. Each of those two up-ticks in the graph,  on the 14th and 25th, represents about 650 additional visitors per day. A nice boost for sure. We are happy and (hopefully) our readers/visitors are happy. Our sales on that site were up 131% for the month over the same period last year, which might be an indicator that they were happy to find us.

The lesson, in case anyone missed it, is to “Provide something of true value for your readers and do not try to game the system.” Gaming the system may work for a while – but not for the long haul.