Last week (Oct 13th /14th) Google released yet another PANDA update which seems to have hit many sites extremely hard. Although many are still wading through the carnage, it seems that the latest update has devalued many more types of links, which has had the result of many sites suffering a mass loss of rankings. Previous rollouts of PANDA has seen sites vanish from Google SERPs, although the latest rollout seems to have had the effect of many webmaster dropping ten to twenty places in search results. If indeed more types of links have been devalued then this would explain why many webmaster are witnessing a degrading of their rankings
As I have posted on affiliate and webmaster forums, and indeed here at Gambling Cash Cow, I strongly believe that within a year, most type of backlinks will be worthless. The days of building mini sites, then simply acquiring links and sitting back and waiting for rankings to improve, by next year will be gone forever.
I have experienced some of my lesser sites lose rankings after the latest PANDA update. One site in particular has experienced a degradation of it’s ranking, by 10 to 15 places for all key phrases. To be honest this site had been ranking with many low quality backlinks which I believe now are of no value, hence the loss of rankings.
Also of note it that my big brand authority sites have received improved rankings with NO increase in backlinks. You can see from the Google Analytics graph below, that the latest Google PANDA update has seen search traffic increase substantially.
To me it seems clear that “brand value” is more important than ever before, although many affiliate webmasters choose to ignore this fact. With the latest update it seems clear that many who aim to continue as affiliates will have to make major changes to their strategy. Forget about networks of “thin” type affiliate sites and instead build perhaps a single authority site, although I’m sure this task will be too daunting for many. Many will simply refer to existing sites that currently still maintain their rankings, although I expect many more sites to be hit over the next year.
In reality we affiliates have had it easy over the last few years. In reality those with the knowledge to acquire the right sort of links, could easily rank any site. I will be honest and say that in the past I have even launched ultra-thin affiliate sites, than have done the job of boosting my bank account.
What Is Brand Value?
There is no doubt that “brand value” does indeed exist in the Google algorithm. I have witnessed many big authority brand type sites, some of my sites included, achieving quality rankings, simply with internal links. I have not found an exact definition of how to achieve brand value in the eyes of Google although to create it I would suggest the following:
Number of Pages
I strongly believe that when a site contains, let’s say 1000 quality pages, and by quality I’m referring to content that matches the actual search phrase(s), doesn’t send readers back to Google search results for more info, pages that don’t have a high bounce rate and of course encourage users to view other pages of the site, then such a site earns great trust with Google. How many pages you actually need to be classed an authority site is indeed highly debatable.
Unique Brand Key Phrases
Of course there are other factors involved to be classed as an authority site in my opinion. For example I also believe that generating unique brand type key phrases also is a major factor. For example if a recipe site packed with every day recipes, let’s call it tonysrecipes dot com ( I do hope that site does not exist), was generating daily search queries such as “Tony’s Omelette Recipe”, Tony’s Curry Recipe”, I strongly believe this sends a great signal to Google in regards to the quality of your site and of course builds brand value. Of course achieving this is not easy, but those that do ending generating a vast amount of traffic from their own brand key phrases.
I also believe that brand image is very important. I for one have noticed that co-branding program sign up pages, vastly increases sign ups. Of course having my site’s logo displayed on a major operators sign up page, also helps to build trust with my readers. I know that my readers can identify my brand type sites from just the main brand logo alone.
Of course there are many more factors that have to be taken in to consideration in regards to building a brand type authority site. Building such a site will also require a vast amount of time and effort, but those that do will be the ones who succeed in the long term.