Everybody is talking about content farms as if they were the only type of sites hit by the latest large Google update. That’s a very limited viewpoint.
One of the most striking effects of the UK version of Google’s quality update dubbed Panda has been the huge losses by shopping search engines and review sites that focus on price comparison. Not all such services have lost though.
Among the losers were international heavyweights like:
They have felt the negative impact of the Panda update in the UK by losing at least half or in many cases most of their Google rankings. The press has been covering only Ciao.co.uk because it’s a Microsoft site which filed a complaint against Google prior to the update.
There is one obvious exception though, and nobody covers it. Pricerunner.co.uk hasn’t lost. Why? Just visit the site and then one or more of the others. Can you see it? You don’t have to be an SEO expert to find out what the difference is. I want to describe it anyway for those who don’t have the time to review the sites themselves in depth.
There are several quite obvious factors why Pricerunner has been spared as the only real price comparison site. They might be obvious to me but difficult to discern for you, so I will share my analysis of the positive aspects of Pricerunner that have made it stand out among the downranked shopping search industry:
Clean modern web design
It’s obvious that Pricerunner has a clean web design, with lots of white space and a clear focus. It has a central feature article on top of the homepage, whereas most other price comparison sites just overwhelm the user with a portal-like link list nobody can overlook easily.
Proper usability and readability
It’s not just the positive first impression you get from looking at the Pricerunner site. You won’t bounce after visiting the homepage, but then you will stay even longer due to well-structured site architecture and readable structure.
Valuable editorial content
Unlike the other classic shopping search engines, which only display auto-fed content from the shops they work with, you’ll find really valuable editorial content on Pricerunner. I’ve tested the price comparison sites by looking for vacuum cleaners. I’m by no means an expert on them (who is?), so I was glad to find some additional in-depth info, aka “buying advice“, on what to look for. Otherwise only brands, reviews and prices would remain there to judge. That’s OK if you already know what you are looking for, but otherwise you don’t even know whether the reviews are trustworthy or the products worth their money.
Healthy backlink profile
I’ve compared the backlink profiles of both losers and the winner, and guess what I found right on top of my Open Site Explorer query? Both Ciao.co.uk and Idealo.co.uk, two sites out of those with the biggest losses during the quality update, had spammy links, guess where, on Google.com itself! They were placed on autogenerated Google Notebook pages (they have been removed now it seems). Apart from that they had barely any quality links. Ciao had several from Techcrunch because they have sued Google but that’s almost all. Pricerunner has the likes of Opera, DMOZ, Mashable and Search Engine Watch linking to it in highly relevant contexts.
Now just look at the main generic keywords Pricerunner is currently ranking for in the UK:
Whoever is responsible for Pricerunner’s content and SEO strategy deserves a raise of at least 50%. For all the others: copy this strategy now.