Google’s panda attacks holiday rentals

I’m guessing you’re probably wondering what Pandas have to do with you promoting your ski accommodation? That’s a fair question, but bear with me and it will all make sense (I hope!).

On 24th February, Google made a huge update to its search algorithm in an attempt to remove a lot of the low quality websites from it’s search results. One of the targets of this update were websites that scrape content off other websites and try to pass it off as their own. The name given to the update was the Panda or Farmer update. The effects of this update were widespread and although it succeeded in removing many junk websites on the net, a number of legitimate websites were also caught in the net and could do little to prevent their Google rankings from dropping off the chart.

So how does this affect you? Well, if you’re anything like me, you probably promote your chalet or ski rental property on a number of websites. You may even have your own website which contains much of the same content used on the listing websites. This makes perfect sense, as the more exposure you have, the better your chances of increasing your bookings.

Promoting your chalet/ski property on multiple websites requires more work, as each change to your listing details needs to be updated on each website. When we need to do this, the temptation is to update one website, then copy and paste the information into each of the other websites. Until now, this was perfectly acceptable, as once you had crafted a fine description for your chalet/rental, it made sense to re-use that content across all of the websites.

This is where Google’s cheeky Panda comes out to give us a good telling off. If you’re copying and pasting your listing details across numerous sites, you end up with multiple websites showing duplicate content. As Google trawls each of those websites, there is a chance that it will spot the duplication. What then happens is that Google considers each of the websites on which the duplicate content has been found, then favours the website which holds the the most credibility and relevance to the subject. The chosen website will then continue to rank in Google’s search results for your content while the other websites are either completely removed from Google’s indexes or disappear so far down the rankings that it is unlikely that they will ever be found.

The best way to avoid being penalised by the Panda update is to ensure that you’re offering original content on each of the websites. Of course, the more websites that you list on, the more work that is required. It isn’t necessary to re-write each listing from scratch, but a subtle rewording or restructuring of your listing details should be enough. If in doubt, imagine you’re copying your best friends history homework. A simple find-replace isn’t going to outsmart Google, but rephrasing and re-ordering your content should be fine.

The other thing to be wary of is listing on websites that rely heavily on advertising. Even too much Google Ad-sense advertising on the same page  can negatively impact your rankings.

As usual, feel free to comment here in the blog, or contact me directly if you have any questions.