What Google Panda 4.2 means for PR by Paul Madden, director of data at Kerboo

As is always the intention behind Google updates, the latest version of Google Panda further prioritises high-quality sites with great content as the next step in Google’s ever-evolving mission to deliver the most relevant sites to its users. As PR crosses into the digital world ever more, writing web copy and getting involved in the SEO process is an everyday task for most professionals, whether agency or in-house, and the updates are increasingly influential to guide the PR side of the online process.

Panda 4.2, in particular, focuses on the added value delivered to the user, as opposed to just blind sales copy. This puts pressure on the copywriters, insisting that there is useful, beneficial content on all pages of the sites that go beyond the standard spiel. This will encourage PROs to work increasingly closely with other functions, or agencies with their clients, further developing the relationships and ensuring all content is completely on point.

In a further bid to promote genuinely useful content, it will be increasingly important for professionals to keep up to date on the industries they are working within, understanding topical discussions and the mindset of the consumer using the website. What is it that they are seeking? What do they read, engage with and share? These questions are critical to generating strong, relevant content and boosting the SEO of a site under the rule of Google Panda 4.2.

PR and social media professionals are likely to play one of the most central roles here, as they are naturally more likely to be manning the public fort and keeping an eye on ongoing affairs which may be relevant. If the web team is a separate function, which in most cases it will be, it is impossible to convey just how important it is for them to keep their fingers on the pulse by calling on the experience and knowledge of the PR and social media professionals, to get a deeper insight into their targeted web users.

Furthermore, the update will add pressure to create unique content. Many industry professionals already appreciate the risks posed by duplicate content, but the latest update is set to intensify that risk tenfold as unique content is put on a pedestal. The copy and paste function is soon to be almost completely eradicated from even the laziest of PRO’s tool boxes.

Having the digital and PR world merge over online tactics, however, will also see the reverse happening; more digital marketers and SEOs will move into the PR space. Although they may have the edge on certain types of outreach and SEO-focused content, however, they should not be able to compete when it comes to securing coverage with the media: this is a set skill which very few beyond the direct PR industry can do well, so there is little to worry about in this respect.

Overall, PR professionals should welcome the changes. Not only do they focus on making the search engine more efficient and therefore resulting in more happy surfers online, it will also ensure that those operating online evolve in their practices as the search engine evolves in its searches. The key principles behind the update are all very simple: put strong, original and interesting content out there and it will be well received. Unique and interesting content is key for a successful digital campaign, so really it's a win-win situation for PR professionals. Better content equals better results and better Google rankings.

Written by Paul Madden, director of data intelligence agency Kerboo