Although the dreaded “Panda Update” happened and continues to happen, search engine optimizers are still reeling from the effects and the possibilities of what next scenarios.

This is understandable, too. Before the Panda update, the majority of internet marketers believed they had finally cracked the Google code. Getting a website ranked was simple: do keyword research, write SEO content and build backlinks.

If you followed these three rules, you could get a website ranking well for nearly any keyword.

This is what happened, too, making a mess of the top Google rankings. Whenever you searched for a specific keyword, you were met with Ezine or HubPages articles. These websites published thousands of words of generic content each and every day, ensuring the vast majority of keywords were dominated by “fluff.”

Unfortunately, many internet marketers forgot Google’s business. Google’s business depends on providing relevant and high-quality content to its users. If someone uses Google and can’t find the information they’re looking for, they’ll likely go somewhere else.

Since the results pages were so clogged with generic and unhelpful content, something had to be done to ensure Google’s users stayed happy. The Panda Update was that “something.”

The Panda Update took the three-step SEO system and threw it out the window. No longer would Google rank websites based on the number of backlinks they had. No longer would bland 500-word articles help your website dominate the search engine results.

Instead, Google is focusing on the user experience. By updating their algorithm, Google now has the means to find out exactly how much value your website is providing to visitors.

Instead of keywords, Google is checking bounce rates. Instead of optimized content, Google’s checking how many pages the average visitor is checking out before leaving your website.

For this reason, if your website isn’t ranking as well as you’d like it to be, it’s time to stop following the basic SEO principles. Instead, by reevaluating your website and performing a quality check, you can give yourself the best possible chance of hitting page #1.

Google Analytics: A Window into the World of Google

Fortunately, Google hasn’t left us in the dark. Although it’s true they aren’t in a hurry to release the details of their new algorithm, the Panda Update showed us one thing: Google will rank websites that provide a quality user experience.

All the information we need to determine whether or not our websites do this is located within Google Analytics. For this reason, if you haven’t started using Google Analytics to track your website’s statistics, you should do so immediately.

Remember – Google is checking to make sure your visitors gain value from your website. This means they’re checking bounce rates, average time spent on your site, returning visitors, and the number of pages visited.

Within Google Analytics, you can determine how much value your website is providing.

Take bounce rates, for example. If a customer visits a page on your website and leaves after a few seconds, that’s considered a “bounce.” If you have a high bounce rate, it means the majority of visitors to your website are leaving very quickly. 

This can mean one of two things: 

1)Your website is not providing the information searchers were looking for.

2)Visitors only need a few seconds to gain find the information they’re looking for.

Now, in the majority of cases, reason #1 will be the case. Because of this, if you find yourself with a bounce rate above 40%, it might be time to change your approach to content creation.

In general, if your content is outdated or bland, and generic, your traffic will take a quick look and leave immediately. Google’s new algorithm keeps track of this and will adjust your rankings based on your bounce rate.

The same can be said for the average time spent on your website. If people are spending under a minute on your website, it usually means they aren’t finding the information they’re really looking for.

With Google Analytics, you can see almost exactly how Google sees your website. Although we can’t be 100% sure, extensive testing is showing the information within Google Analytics is very similar to the information Google is looking for when ranking your website.

For this reason, if you see something wrong within your Google Analytics – fix it!

Lastly, it’s important to remember old SEO strategies are still taken into account when Google ranks websites. It’s still worthwhile to build backlinks and do keyword research. However, with this new algorithm in mind, ensuring your website is offering value and quality information to your visitors should become your new top priority.

Get the Most Up-to-Date Information on Google!

If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that staying up-to-date on what the major search engines are doing is extremely important. 

If you were still building backlinks through Ezine Articles today, for example, your website would be flailing about in the Google “sandbox.” Because internet marketing has changed so drastically, strategies that worked six months ago have no room in modern SEO.

Although the majority of the SEO world is still focused on the “mechanics” of ranking (links building, automation, etc), those who’ve been following Google closely know that content is the most important aspect of any SEO campaign. 

And by content, I’m not just talking about the “old way” of doing content – doing keyword research and basing your content solely on those keywords.

I’m talking about the user experience. 

Ever since the Panda update, Google’s been using a wide variety of metrics to determine where to rank websites. And a huge number of those metrics have to do with content.

We’ve already covered this subject in detail above, but in summary, here are a few things Google looks at to determine your rankings (based on content alone):

  • Bounce Rates (if traffic immediately exits your site on landing or if they stick around)
  • Average Time on Site (how long is the user spending on your site?)
  • The number of Pages Visited (did the user just read one page or did they click around your website?)
  • LSI Keywords (is your content “keyword soup” or does it really talk about what your website says it does?)

Now, we’ve already covered the first three in the article linked above. Today, we’re going to talk about the last metric: LSI keywords.

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. Google uses LSI to determine whether or not a website really delivers on what it says it will.

Here’s how it works:

When you do “keyword research,” you determine a few phrases that most people in your niche will be using to find your website. So if you’re in the music business, people might be searching “how to sell CD’s,” “how to make it in a band,” “making money with music,” etc.

Now, some website owners stop there. They get the basic keywords for their niche, write “content” based around those keywords and that’s it.

But they don’t really write content on those keywords. They write meaningless “fluff” that delivers no value to the person who visits their website. 

So with our music business example, they might have a page titled “making money with music,” but it doesn’t actually say anything of meaning on this subject.

Here’s where LSI comes into the equation. Google realizes that when you target a specific keyword, there are other relevant keywords that go with that keyword.

So if your main key-phrase was “making money with music,” that’s not the only music-related keyword you’d have in relevant content. Such an article would probably have additional keywords like “marketing,” “contacts,” “record label,” “entertainment attorney,” “recording,” “performance,” etc.

As you can see, all these LSI keywords are completely relevant to the main idea of the article: making money in the music industry.

Now, when you have these LSI keywords in your content, Google can tell that your content is truly related to what your main keyword says it is. As a result, based on LSI alone, Google can tell that your website has a high probability of providing its visitors with value.

Of course, LSI isn’t the only tool Google uses to gauge the user experience. But in many cases, SEO’s get caught up in the idea of using keywords, building links, etc. So for those of you who are more mechanically minded, LSI gives you something to keep in mind whenever you’re creating content.

So How Do You Find Your LSI Keywords?

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of tools available on the internet for free. Simply searching “finding LSI keywords” will give you a huge number of free tools. 

So next time you’re creating content, don’t just target one keyword. Don’t create “keyword soup,” but include relevant LSI keywords into your content.

Obviously, if you’re writing valuable content, these LSI keywords should come naturally anyway. That’s what they’re designed to do. So create content designed to increase the level of the user experience. Keywords, LSI, and backlinks will naturally follow (of course, it never hurts to give your site a bit of a push…).

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