The Importance of Content Popularity in Google – By Dave Taylor

by Colleen on December 10, 2012

You already know that there’s been a major change in how Google ranks content in the search results.

It used to be it was about getting inbound links from high PageRank sites. Links from Facebook were nice, but essentially irrelevant because those profile pages were never going to rank well and so their “votes” were never going to be that important either.

Enter the beast with the lovable name Panda. Introduced as the latest in search algorithm updates by Google, it began a major change in how content is evaluated and popularity ascertained.

For the last year, if you weren’t getting positive “signals” from social media sites in addition to everything you’ve always needed to do for good SEO, you were slipping down the ranks.

Then Panda’s little cousin Penguin arrived and added further tweaks and modifications to the algorithm, causing sites that slipped past Panda to drop down the rankings anyway because they didn’t have good social signals.

That both animals are black and white is a message from Google: The Internet is a social place now, and the best method for them to ascertain the value of a given Web page on the Internet cannot rely on links from other Web pages.

Frankly, we’re now spending more time typing in Facebook status updates and posting photos on Instagram than we are blogging and creating articles for our Web sites.

What this means to you is that it’s critical you not only make it brain-dead easy for visitors to “like” your content on Facebook, to “+1” your pages on Google Plus, to share them on Pinterest, but that you actively encourage them to do the same.

Most easily, it means you need to drop one of the many social plug-ins onto your site, and if you’re using WordPress as your content management system, there are quite a few choices.

We can blame Panda and Penguin for forcing these changes on us, but I see it differently: Google reflects the online world, not vice versa.

Our use of the Internet has been changing for the last few years and we’re now just as likely to find content due to it being shared on Facebook or LinkedIn as we are to do a Google search or read about it in an email newsletter.

Ergo the search algorithm has to change too.

The takeaway? Update your pages, whether they’re affiliate product sales pages or blog entries or any other content, to feed Panda and Penguin.

Let your users share your great stuff, focus on adding value and selling well and you’ll find that those black and white animals are surprisingly benign after all.

Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980. Find him online at

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