Since Google's Panda update, we've been looking at a lot of the sites negatively impacted, as examples to learn from. Determining what these sites have been doing wrong can help us understand how other sites may be viewed in Google's eyes.
We've also been looking at what some of these sites have been doing to try and recover some of their lost search traffic. Some sites have indeed seen an uptick in search referrals, after being victimized by the update.
EzineArticles has been one of the more widely-publicized victims of the update, and also one of the most vocal in terms of reaching out to its users in efforts to improve content. On the company blog, there have been numerous tips and guidelines discussed in recent months. This continues with a new post from a managing editor, who discusses landing page quality for article contributors.
The editor lists a few "article rejection-worthy scenarios," including: linking to a site unrelated to the article content, duplicating article content on landing pages, having more than one exit pop-up, having limited or poor user-navigation or forcing users to affiliate pages without transparent intent, and having a poor or unbalanced ad-to-content ratio.
In terms of navigation, the editor specifically mentions slow-loading landing pages.
While much of the guidance EzineArticles has been giving to users of late has been focused on the content that actually appears on EzineArticles itself, it is interesting to see them now turning focus to the content that EzineArticles is linking to.
In other words, the goal is not only to improve the site's content, but to improve the content that is being associated with it in the eyes of the search engines.
Linking out to poor quality content is not good SEO. This isn't new to Panda. It's a pretty old, well-known element of the game. EzineArticles' reminder of this to its users somewhat reflects a point we discussed in another recent article. Panda victims will do well not only to dwell on the Panda update specifically, but to get back to SEO basics.
Remember, Google has over 200 signals, and just because your site may have gotten hit by the Panda update, doesn't mean that there aren't other SEO practices you couldn't be doing better - practices that may have benefited you all along, pre and post Panda.
The point about site speed is a valid one too. We know Google uses site speed as a ranking factor. We don't know the weight of it (though DaniWeb has some interesting stats related to this). If Google views the landing page as a less quality page because of the page load time, it can't help the article linking to that page either.
So, if EzineArticles is able to get its users to take quality more seriously on their own sites, it could go a long way in helping Google's perception of EzineArticles itself. Whether or not users will follow the advice and this will happen, remains to be seen.
It's worth noting that EzineArticles is still running some pretty ad-heavy content. At the time of this writing, this is the top article on the site. There are three Google ads above the content body, six ads directly below it, two Google ads below those ads, a bunch of "related" links below those, and five more ads below those. To the right of the article body there are ten Google ads, stretching a vertical length of about twice the amount of the body itself. Oh, and there are 4 more Google ads at the very top of the page, above the title. This seems to be the basic article template the site is running with.