Once we worshipped the sun, but these days it’s a little different, especially if you’re a digital marketer: the world of organic search now worships at the font of Panda.

The much anticipated Google update for 2016 was for a real-time Penguin update. Ever one to keep us on our toes, Google rolled out a Panda update instead, but it’s not just an update – it is now part of the core algorithm.

This is no bad thing and not necessarily a surprise as Google’s trajectory and preferences are pretty clear to see – websites need to produce good quality, useful content that is talked about and shared naturally because it is so valuable, user-friendly and well-designed. It’s all about doing the right and best thing for your audience.

A focus on the audience has always been a key aspect of paid media, but for SEO it seems to have taken a little longer for many to have got their heads around it. No more, though – your audience is king so you’d better not forget it!

With Panda as part of the core algorithm, here are our five principles for a good organic search strategy:

  1. Build for people, not search engines. As search engines move ever nearer to putting the user first, just build for your audience rather than trying to play or control Google.
  2. Design. The user experience, journey and aesthetics matter – this isn’t about personal preferences. Does the site look trustworthy enough for users to give it their credit card details? Are there stylistic errors or distracting elements on the page?
  3. Build trust. People need to believe what you are saying, so give them a reason to trust you. Refer to trusted external sources, use your real name, link up all your social profiles and so on. If they feel that you’re not hiding or trying to be anonymous, they’ll trust what you’ve got to say.
  4. Less is more when it comes to content. This goes against former SEO wisdom, but having a low number of pages featuring high quality content has been shown to be more effective than filling your site with lots of thin content pages.
  5. Filter user reviews. This is connected to the trust and thin content issues in the sense that having lots of reviews saying “great”, “good” or “fabulous” on your site doesn’t look very trustworthy or real. It may be a good idea to employ a bit of a filter to highlight the really good ones (not to filter out the bad ones!).

You may be thinking this sounds just like good old traditional marketing, and you’d be right. We seem to have gone full circle, where organic search marketing is just about good marketing.

Welcome to the world of Panda.