The main purpose of Google’s Panda update – which was first launched in 2011 – was to target sites with low-quality and duplicate content, bumping them down into the depths of results pages to make way for the sites with relevant, useful and high quality content. After no less than 26 updates, Panda has been around for long enough now that businesses and content marketers alike have had time to adapt to the changes it brought about, and adjust their content strategies accordingly.
Some time ago Tweak Your Biz discussed the
What is low quality content?
Google defines low quality content that does not add any value, which can materialise as any/all of the following:
- Duplicate content
- Vague, shallow or unsubstantial
- Content with < 200 words*
- Doorway pages
- Pages of links
- Content with poor grammar/spelling
- Automatically generated content
- Lots of ads
- Scraped or syndicated content – i.e., from other sources.
*This is not to say that if your site has a handful of pages with 150 words, you will definitely be hit by Panda’s wrath. But, if all of the pages on your site have 150 words, then that may indicate to Google that your site is low quality.
What is high quality content?
On the other hand, Google considers content demonstrating the following to be high quality (this is what you should be aiming for):
- Original, unique content
- In depth, comprehensive
- Written/hosted by an expert or authority on the topic
- Well written (quality control: style, tone, grammar, spelling, etc.)
- Factual correctness
- Relevant to site (i.e. a site about gardening posts content about gardening, not electronics)
- Not too many ads and/or links
How does Google recognise quality?
Now, while Google is able to tell the length of word count, number of links or ads, and the authority of a webpage, you might be wondering how it can tell whether or not a page is interesting, or provides in-depth information. There are a number of indicators that Google can use to determine whether the content:
- Number of links back to the page
- Number of social shares
- Visitor numbers
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
All of the above factors can indicate to Google how useful, informative and interesting users find a piece of content. If a page has 2,000 social shares, it’s probably safe to say that it is a better quality post than one that has 50 shares.
How to produce high quality content?
The bottom line is that, in order for content to perform successfully in a post Panda world, you need to make sure that it abides by Google’s definition of high quality. To make sure your content does exactly that, you can ask yourself the following questions?
- Is the subject of the content something the writer is an expert or highly knowledgeable about?
- Is the topic relevant to the overall theme of my site?
- Will my readers/audience be interested in this subject?
- Does the piece have a clear purpose (e.g. informational study, news piece, entertainment, etc)?
- Does the piece thoroughly explore the topic and provide valuable information/insight?
- Is the piece well written and factually correct?
- Has it been thoroughly reviewed for spelling and grammatical errors?
- Does the content/page have a LOW volume of links and ads?
If you can answer yes to all (or at least most) of these questions, then you shouldn’t have to worry too much about your content. Remember: Panda is not out to penalise sites unfairly – it is there to deter spammers and those creating content solely for ranking purposes. Google’s Panda update can help your pages – and ultimately, your whole site – to be seen by the right people by filtering out all the spam and poor quality content.
If you focus on producing valuable content that your readers will love, then you and Panda can co-exist in the Google-sphere quite happily.
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