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The Latest Changes to the Rules of Organic SEO

Organic SEO is changing even as we sit back and try to keep up. Google released a new algorithm called Panda in March, and has updated it several times since then — and Panda has changed everything. Until Panda, it was enough to follow a complex but definable set of rules regarding everything from keyword placement and density to creating a natural link profile.

Today, however, there is an art to SEO that simply didn’t exist before. That’s because Panda suddenly put rules in place that takes the “user experience” into account. For example,

EzineArticles.com used to look like this:

And now, it looks like this:

See the difference? The largest and most profitable article directory on the Internet did away with two navbars, and 3 different blocks of AdWords because Panda slapped them downward in the rankings until they complied. Their profitability is down because the AdWords are gone, but the other choice was to have it tanked completely because their pages simply wouldn’t show up on any search engine results pages.

Why did this happen? Simple: because according to Panda, your user experience sucks if you have a bunch of crap interrupting or distracting from your main content. There exceptions; Panda loves social bookmarking buttons and other ‘share-me’ stuff and won’t penalize you if you’ve got it alongside your content, for example. But by and large, modern SEO means creating clean, easy-to-use pages just as much as it means creating keyword-dense, heavily-backlinked pages.

But wait — there’s more. Panda doesn’t just check your content pages for user experience. It checks every single page on your site and gives your entire site a weighted ‘usability score’ — which means that your entire site can get penalized if just one or two heavily-visited pages have a poor user experience.

What that means for SEO in the modern world is profound, because Google is now forcing us to juggle between satisfying the demands of Panda and being able to effectively monetize our sites — how easy that ends up being has yet to be seen.

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