Ever since Google’s now infamous Panda update on February 24th SEO land has been trying to make sense of how the updated algorithm actually affects rankings and search results. Despite the professed aim of the update to bring high quality sites up the rankings and punish large content farms and low content scrapers, the forums are filled with thousands of angry site owners who believe their site has been unfairly Google-spanked in the process. Up until recently the only thing that Google had said in response was for site owners to ask themselves whether they would be comfortable getting medical advice from their site or giving their credit card details to it. Unsurprisingly, for many disgruntled webmasters these cryptic whisperings were little comfort as their livelihoods descended three or four pages down the rankings and there has been a growing demand for more explanation on how to be the kind of ‘high-quality’ site that Google is after.
Thankfully, on the 6th May Google finally offered some guidance on how to make sure your site does not plummet down the rankings due to its content. As you would expect the advice they give is all about quality and most of the things they recommend are things you should be doing anyway if you want to create a site you would be proud of and that people would want to visit. Nevertheless their recommendations bear repeating. Posted on their Webmaster Central Blog the article, ‘Providing More Guidance on Building High Quality Sites’ pinpoints the main things that will likely cause a site to take a hit. The following questions should be asked when thinking about your site:
Does the article you’re reading appear to be a trustworthy source of information?
Has it obviously been written by an expert in that field and if not has it at least been written by someone who is an enthusiast or hobbyist?
Does the site appear to be an authority on the subject matter it deals with?
Does the information contained in the article seem to be an in depth analysis or is it somewhat light on the ground?
Is all of the content in the article, and in the site, 100% original or does it seem to be made up of duplicate or overlapping content?
Has a large percentage of the content been outsourced and / or mass produced and does it seem like not much care has gone into the selection of the articles?
Are there many spelling errors?
Are there many grammatical errors?
How much time seems to have been spent on quality control?
Would you be ok with giving this site your credit card details?
Does the site’s content seem to be geared directly towards the site’s readership or is it more likely that it has been written for the search engines?
How does the site stack up when it comes to interest and value of content when compared to other similar pages that have been recommended by the search results?
Would you be happy consulting the site for health-related matters?
Would you be happy recommending the site to a friend or to people on social networks?
Does the article in front of you have so much advertising that it distracts you from the main body of content?
Would the article in front of you be good enough to be found in a book or magazine or an encyclopedia?
Does the site as a whole seem to be written and designed with enough care and attention for your liking?
Do the pages of the site seem to be produced with more care and attention or less care and attention than you would expect?
Would users be likely to complain about the articles and content that is offered up by this site?
These questions should be of no real surprise to those webmasters who have been reading the search engine runes of late. It seems the days of easy search engine optimisation from low quality, spun or copied content are numbered. And that’s no bad thing.