Google’s Pierre Far announced on Friday via Google+ the gradual rollout of an improved Panda algorithm. According to user and webmaster feedback, Panda 4.1 makes it possible to evaluate more signals and identify lower quality websites, producing a greater variety of highly valued smaller and medium-sized websites.
What is Panda aiming for?
Essentially, good content. Thanks to Panda updates, Google is increasingly more capable of distinguishing between good and bad webpage content. Google’s aim has always been to offer its users the best possible websites in its search results for every search request.
So what criteria does Google take into account? The answer can be found as far back as 2011 in a Google Webmaster blog. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Would you trust the information in this article?
- Was this article written by an expert or knowledgeable amateur or is it sketchy and lacking in necessary depth?
- Does the website contain duplicate, overlapping or redundant articles on identical or similar topics with only slightly different keywords?
- Would you trust this website with your credit card details?
- Does the article contain spelling mistakes, stylistic errors or incorrect information?
- Is the information contained in articles actually relevant to the interests of readers or is website content aimed solely at generating favourable rankings in search engines?
- Does the article contain unique content or information, original reports, new findings or independent analysis?
- Does the website have significant value in contrast to other search results?
- To what extent has content undergone sufficient quality control?
- Does the article take into account varying points of view?
- Is the website a recognised, competent source of information in your field?
- Is website content simply gathered en masse from numerous external sources or a large network of websites, to the detriment of individual sites which then lack care and attention?
- Was the article carefully thought through or does it appear to have been written in haste and sloppily edited?
- Would you trust the information on this website with regards to personal health problems?
- Would you recognise this website as a reliable source of information if you saw it cited elsewhere?
- Does the article offer a thorough and complete description of the topic at hand?
- Does the article contain insightful analysis or intuitive information which isn’t necessarily well known or available elsewhere?
- Would you be likely to bookmark this page or recommend it to friends and colleagues?
- Does the article contain an unusually large amount of adverts which distract or impact negatively on content?
- Could you imagine seeing the article in print in an encyclopaedia or text book?
- Are the articles on a website too short or do they lack useful information?
- Were the webpages clearly created with care and attention to detail, or rather hastily?
- Would users be likely to complain if presented with pages from this website?
These key points from 2011 are still just as valid today. In recent years, Google has developed its algorithm even further in order to improve the quality of search results. But the core principals haven’t changed.
So what can you do to secure your website ahead of the next Panda update or rectify errors which are currently having a negative effect?
- Optimise content to make the page relevant for a particular keyword and offer real value.
- Your site should already contain 300-400 words which with Google can easily recognise its relevance. Embedded videos or images also count as content and can increase the quality of a webpage.
- Reduce the quantity of ad banners in proportion to regular content to a suitable, healthy amount.
- Consider existing pages. You can improve rankings by deleting lower quality pages or by merging pages with similar content rather than creating additional sites. It’s all about quality not quantity. Not all your URLs will be affected by Panda so just identify those that are.
Measure the effects of Panda with XOVI
Pierre Far has confirmed that the Panda update will only be completed in the course of this week, so it’s not really worth evaluating the current figures provided by our weekly updates.
If you prefer not to wait and want to find out immediately whether you will be positively or negatively affected, then run your most important keywords for your domains through XOVI’s monitoring tool and have them updated daily. This will quickly give you an overview as to whether your focus keywords have gained or lost in visibility or whether the Panda update has passed you by.
New SEO data from XOVI will be available next weekend.