Google Panda Update: New Advice Directly From Google

23 questions to ask yourself about your content quality

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Google Panda Update: New Advice Directly From Google
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Google’s Panda update left a slew of victims in the wake of its warpath (the war, of course being on shallow and low-quality content). While Google has dropped some hints here and there on its philosophies for what it considers to be low quality, the company has now been clearer than ever as to what it’s looking at.

Do you think Google’s results have improved since the Panda update? Tell us what you think.

“Some publishers have fixated on our prior Panda algorithm change, but Panda was just one of roughly 500 search improvements we expect to roll out to search this year,” writes Google Fellow Amit Singhal on the Google Webmaster Central blog. “In fact, since we launched Panda, we’ve rolled out over a dozen additional tweaks to our ranking algorithms, and some sites have incorrectly assumed that changes in their rankings were related to Panda. Search is a complicated and evolving art and science, so rather than focusing on specific algorithmic tweaks, we encourage you to focus on delivering the best possible experience for users.”

Google lists the following as “questions that one could use to assess the ‘quality’ of a page or an article”:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

The company is careful to note that it’s not disclosing actual ranking signals used in its algorithms, but these questions will help you “step into Google’s mindset.” These questions are things that Google says it asks itself as it writes algorithms.

Singhal also reminds webmasters, “One other specific piece of guidance we’ve offered is that low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings, and thus removing low quality pages, merging or improving the content of individual shallow pages into more useful pages, or moving low quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher-quality content.”

We’ve already seen victims of the update respond by taking this approach. For one, Demand Media announced a big new clean-up initiative, in which it is cleaning house on user-generated content used on its eHow site – deleting some articles, while sending others back through the editorial process.

I’m sure we will be digging into all of this more very soon.

Are there any of Google’s questions that surprise you? Let us know in the comments.

[Image Credit: Stéfan on Flickr]

Google Panda Update: New Advice Directly From Google
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  • http://www.culturalandadventuretravel.com/ Bianca Cabo

    Some publishers have fixated on our prior Panda algorithm change, but Panda was just one of roughly 500 search improvements we expect to roll out to search this year

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    To really know the difference between low-quality and high-quality content Google would have to know how to read the same way we do and they just can’t. If they could then they wouldn’t need an algorithm to determine which pages are best for a particular search phrase. They would know just by reading the various pages related to the phrase and present them in order of relevance and importance and quality. Since they can’t they have to use an imperfect algorithm with 200 factors that tries to achieve the same results.

  • http://www.bycostello.com bycostello

    I still get more listings about the page i am looking for rather than the page itself… maybe that is down to SEO by the site owner rather than Google..

  • kendo

    Does the site have typos?

    Man, am I sick of this one and it’s always Americans talking about it… Americans cannot spell and have no sense of grammar at all!

  • William

    “Google lists the following as”… Google staff cannot differentiate these things so how is an algorithm written by them going to do any better?????

    Why is everyone missing the real point here… Google cripples search results to suit itself. They don’t know what quality is and don’t care, and from the sounds of if, not many of you lot do either. When I am searching for something, the last thing I want to wade through is discussions and comments by people who cannot see the forest for the trees.

  • Ed Rude

    After reading some of the comments I realized why my website’s rankings for several keywords moved from totally invisible (ranked somewhere lower than the bottom thousand pages of the SERPs) to the first page, right after the panda update.

    Google really is trying to get authoritative, fresh and unique information to the searchers.

  • Mae Johns

    No, I don’t think that Google’s results have improved since Panda. The sites at the top of search are usually very brief articles with not a lot of information, or they are very slow to load. I’m not impressed.

  • Shaun

    The search results have improved to some extent, but naturally the algorithm is not perfect and may never be. The point is that the aim is to filter out low quality content ‘content farming sites’ and to that there has been some success. Most of those who cry foul and claim otherwise are disgruntled SEO firms and employees who have reduced content creation to search engine optimization. These profiteers are the ones who are worst hit, which is why they are now crying about google trying to control things and creating a monopoly and so on. These are the same firms and organizations that made the old algorithims and calculations redundant by over optimizing content in their desperation and greed to reach the top ranking.
    At the same time I will not deny that some good sites have also been adversely affected, but this will hopefully change. No algorithm can be perfect at identifying quality, but feedback from user’s of google’s search engine can help, and hopefully there will be more scope for such feedback.

  • http://www.careers-partnership-uk.com CareersPartnershipUK

    Any info yet plse on what Google regards as a stylistic error? I write about career guidance, career counselling and job search support and favour a rather blunt and informal writing style. Blog visitors’ comments can be even more blunt and informal!!

  • http://www.wellnessrhythms.com Denver Chiropractor

    Thanks Chris I find this article helpful. I am new to SEO, ranking first or second on Google for various keywords for my website, but the questions you listed helped see that the content on my site is not the as good as it could be. And now at least I have a “blue print” for evaluating both content and the content writers I hire. Thanks.

    • http://ninjamasterprepprofessionalreviews.com/ Mike the Mixer Man

      Thanks for the info and the wonderful community here. A friend of mine gave me this link and I am grateful.

      The Panda update hasn’t affected me at all. Thankful for that as well. All my site are all original written content with the user in mind just like my ninja master blender site.

      It’s fun and very informational on the topic.

      Thanks again..

  • http://www.opusvirtualoffices.com Alan Mor

    I don’t think this is going to be happened. I would like to focus on the issue about the contents of the News Portals. Several portal uses News Agency made news and what impact will be against their content from Google?

  • http://get-business-online.com/ Gal

    Kung-Fu Panda, more like…

  • http://scootertronics.com Michael

    Longevity plus quality content has always kept my site ranked well for the products I sell. I started a niche market where there was none and had 100s jump in and copy everything move I made to the day. I still write all my own content where everyone else copies specs, I have been sold on content from day 1 and have never been hurt by any updates. I don’t buy ad words and still the day rely on hard and the compound effect that means good habits done daily, look at me here I am checking up on Google and I am Yahoo merchant, I explain what my customers want to hear an answer to their problem which is why people search in the first place and I don’t want the complainers which are SEO people who should teach people to fish not feed them BS. I am currently doing a few micro data upgrades plus it doesn’t hurt to sell products people are searching for and need a trusted source who uses the very products they offer.

  • http://www.more2sexy.com Sexy


    I can’t believe that Google Panda can think that all sites are similars.
    By example my site fall down for some search words
    Rate Photos

    If anybody have some advice about why Panda kick me out.. thanks for answer me

    best regards

  • http://www.abbigliamentodonnaonline.net/ Eva Mori

    Definitely Appreciated! :)

  • http://rachaelbutts.com/ WordPress Designer

    Hi Chris-
    Interesting article for sure. I agree with David Ambrose. Focusing on quality content over SEO algorithms is key.

  • http://www.pulsaelektrik.org pulsa elektrik

    that’s not fair. this is my personal experience, there is two of my article that ranked below from other sites that has a copy of mine google always and always says improve your content quality but at the same time it also says that they dont know who own the content. there are many number of cases where, duplicate content is ranking higher then the original owner of the content.

  • http://www.efatacell.web.id pulsa elektrik

    google algorithm changes of this makes me quite difficult to perform the optimization blog.because I had been always focusing on seo offpage

  • http://www.djmastercourse.com djben

    Legend, thanks Chris. I’ve just printed the list and stuck it on my whiteboard never to be forgotten :)

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