Video Deep Dive: Dealing With Panda and Weak Content on Local Sites
Mike Blumenthal

This is the 2nd installment of of 2016 of our Deep Dive Into Local series in 2016. For the week ending Monday, January 18, Mary Bowling and Mike Blumenthal shared their thoughts about the previous week in local. The complete video, including links and commentary on critical happenings of the previous week is posted in the Local U forums (paywall). In the second half of that video, they take a deeper strategic and tactical dive into one interesting area that caught their attention during the week.

In this discussion, we look at the role of dealing with sites that have lots of very weak content and what to do about it.


Mike: So, with that, why don’t we transition to our Deep Dive and just discuss some ideas on how Panda impacts local, and how unnecessary content might be dealt with.

Mary: Yeah. We had a question in the local search forum a week or two ago about can you rank better by getting rid of content. Depending on your website, there’s no set rules as far as content is concerned. But depending on your website and what you have on there, I can easily see how getting rid of content or combining thin content into more useful long form content could help your rankings. What are you doing as far as local content these days, Mike?

Mike: Well, the first thing I do when I see a new client, particularly, is I drive them through the Panguin P-A-N-G-U-I-N tool, which shows whether a site has seen drops correlated with Panguin updates in the past to get some idea. Then I frequently will look, if it’s a bloated site with a lot of repetitive, keyword driven content, I will look to find pages that have very low traffic metrics, or zero often. Typically from the bottom up, trying to get rid of some of those and/or make them stronger too, like consolidating them and doing some redirects around solid content that is locally driven. How about you?

Mary: There’s so many local sites out there, for a couple years, ever since Panguin hit and people became afraid to build links, they shifted their focus to building content. There’s a lot of not very useful content on a lot of local business websites. Stuff from Wikipedia that’s been stuck in there. Very thin blog posts that aren’t very useful and don’t link to anything. I never cease to be amazed at how much bad content there could be on websites, and I doubt that it’s doing anyone any good. I definitely agree that some content should be eliminated, a lot of it should probably be consolidated. Then your important pages, you really need to look at those top level pages for services and products and make sure that that is good content. I think that Google is going to reward us more and more going forward with local sites if that content is in some way localized.

Very rarely do I see really valuable localized content on local sites. You can tell that some copywriter somewhere did some research on the web and threw together this post about hot water heaters, instead of somebody that really knows hot water heaters in my area and the types of problems that we typically have in my area with hot water heaters. I think that anybody who can really go to the source of the business owners who know that content, it’s in their heads, but we have to get it out of there. Sadly, they’re very busy people and a lot of them do not have time to devote to that sort of thing. So it’s a balancing act that I’m always having to try to figure out. What can I get this plumber to give me? How can I get information from this plumber that’s actually going to help this website?

Mike: As a side note on that, we did address that question in Video as a Local Content Strategy. The Hangout that we did with Paul Sherland, Will Scott, Don Campbell, and myself, Tim Tevlin, where we talked about Paul’s strategy using video and a commitment to video as a way of generating that truly localized content, and articulating the knowledge that the local business owner has. Paul won’t even take on a client if they don’t agree to the idea of video taping sessions so that he has content that he can turn into interviews and blog posts, and localized valuable content. One of the ways around that with a lot of this local folks is to engage them in some sort of video where if you ask them questions, as opposed to scripted video, they frequently can answer because they do really know it.

Mary: They do. Rand has been saying for a while now that you don’t just need good content, you need absolutely awesome content, 10X better content than your competitors. But if you think of that on a local level, in most cases it does not take very much to beat out your competitors as far as good localized useful content is concerned. Because most of them are not making a good effort to do that on their sites.

Mike: Yeah, I think the trend in local, given how hard it is to produce good content and how easy it is to produce bad content, loads of it, I think the focus needs to be on slimming down. Focusing really directly on sort of a strategy for solid content. Even if it’s only once a quarter, or once a month or every two months, it’s better than the kind of fluff that you typically are seeing.

Mary: Yeah. A lot of times the bad content that we see on local websites, the website owner, the business owner, they pay good money for that. They invest in a lot of resources to get it and now they don’t really want to give it up. But in a couple of cases I’ve recommend to people that they completely eliminate their blog, because the content on it was so un-useful to both humans and the search engines, that there was just no use having it on there anymore.

Mike: I think that’s true. Well, with that why don’t we call it a wrap. Just a quick reminder, we have two events coming up. Williamsburg, which is on March 5th, book in advance, tickets are at the early bird pricing until February, for $699, and Seattle, which is February…

Mary: 19th? 18th and 19th?

Mike: 18th and 19th in conjunction with Moz Local, we’re doing a half day practicum in local. So, a reminder to keep your eyes for those if you’re interested. So with that, I’ll say goodbye and we’ll see you next week.

Mary: Thanks. Bye bye.

Note: Our Moz Local U Practicum is sold out but we have seats for our Local U Advanced Williamsburg Event on March 4th and 5th. Early Bird pricing of $699 ends February 12th.