Monday 3 September 2012

What Does Panda Mean For Affiliate Marketing?

Google Panda
Google's updates are a topic of conversation on every affiliate forum, and the recent Panda update is no exception. Affiliate sites are more vulnerable to Panda's effects, and some have lost up to 95% of their organic Google traffic in just a month's time.

Here, you'll learn more about the Panda update, and what you as an affiliate marketer can do to counteract its effects.

Just What is Panda?

Panda is a search algorithm update meant to further distinguish quality sites from lower-quality ones. Its goal is to provide the search engine's users with useful and relevant results. If an affiliate doesn't add anything to their site other than the information provided by the product's supplier, they will see adverse effects on their ranking when Panda's criteria are applied.

You can tell if a ranking drop is Panda-related through its timing. If a drop in organic traffic coincides with a Panda update, then it's likely related and you'll need to find out which pages and keywords are impacted. It's also a good idea to read Google's guidelines to ensure your affiliate sites aren't doing anything that may mean a penalty.

Website Ranking Criteria and Response

Many affiliate sites are run single-handedly, or by smaller teams that don't have a way to continually supply quality, unique content. There aren't any shortcuts in this area; if you see your web traffic drop, you need to do something! Now's not the time for a "one size fits all" approach, but there are some things that affiliate sites have in common, as well as some things you need to avoid:

  • Duplicate content: If content is lifted directly from other sites, red flags will go up and little value will be added to your site visitors' experience. If your site uses content from another source, it should be edited, rewritten (Copyscape is a good way to check for plagiarism) and made relevant to your niche. It's not only fair, it's good business practice.

  • Thin content: If an affiliate site doesn't produce content that's "valuable" by Google's standards and its sole purpose is to make money, it's called a thin affiliate. The guidelines used to review sites are very explicit here; those guidelines aren't directly related to Panda, but many of its specifications apply to the algorithm. If your affiliate sites contains "thin" content, it should be augmented and rewritten so that it adds value for site users.

  • Higher bounce rates/page views: When a site is visited and the user then clicks the "back" button to return to the results page, that tells Google that the site isn't what the user was looking for. To avoid bounces, build affiliate pages that compel the user to stay around.

  • Being blocked by users: If your site shows up in Google's search results and a good number of users choose to block it, your ranking will be negatively impacted. Conversely, if users bookmark your site or use the +1 button, Google is told that your site has something to offer. To avoid being blocked, make sure you're offering fresh, helpful and relevant content.

  • High ad content: Affiliate sites with a higher than normal ad:content ratio have a higher likelihood of a negative impact from Panda. If you need ads on your site, keep them to a reasonable size and put them "below the fold".

  • Using templates: Gone are the days when you could lay out a template and use paid search campaigns to gain traffic. If your affiliate site uses a template, be sure to regularly add new, targeted content.

While the recent Panda update can hurt some affiliate marketers, it can offer an enormous opportunity to those which have added value and a purpose beyond profit. Your challenge as a marketer is to seize the opportunity you've been given. Think of your target audience and the kind of content they want to see, and your site will stand out from the rest.

About The Author: Wayne Barker writes for Twist Forum, an affiliate forum that will help you grow your business.

Did you find this article helpful? Please let Wayne and myself know by leaving us your valued comments below.

Related articles:
SEO Tips After Google Panda Update

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  1. Interesting about the ads above the fold, do the Google ad words count as well? Are all affiliate sites fully loaded with ads or are some blogs affiliate sites as well? I use a few affiliate ads on mine and wonder if there is a better way.

  2. Gone are the days where a website was solely built just make money through ads without providing any real content. Content is now king and Google have made the right step in ensuring site owners provide their visitors with real content. Nice article.

  3. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for you comment - Google did some research before rolling out the ads thing. They noticed that real people didn't like sites that were ad heavy (ie sites that were built for running adsense) and incorporated into their algorithms. as long as you don't have too many ads running you will be fine - if you look at your site and all you can see is ads you may have an issue


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