Google Panda Algorithm Update

The latest algorithm change made by Google in early 2011 dubbed the “panda update” has had an impact on an unprecedented number of websites across the Web. The major logic behind this update seems to be a crack down on so called content farms. What exactly constitutes a content farm is a grey area but it looks as though web2.0 websites such as Squidoo and article directories such as Ezine have taken a hit.

The update is basically Google’s effort to stamp out shallow and low-quality content. Google is notoriously secretive when it comes to revealing details behind it’s algorithm, but it does seem to drop hints every now and again, and many of these come from their spokesman Matt Cutts.

Google lists the following as questions that one could use to assess the quality of the content published on your website.

  • 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?

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

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