As we’ve previously written, Google’s Panda update in February significantly affected how sites get their organic traffic, changing the SERPs for 12% of all U.S. searches. While we know the aim of the algorithm change was to weed out low quality sites, Google has been extremely tight lipped on what exactly qualifies as a high quality website -until now.
Amit Singhal, the Google engineer in charge of their ranking algorithm just published a blog post giving the most elaborate explanation of Panda to date. Without getting into specifics which would allow people to game the system, Amit lays out exactly what questions Google are looking to answer in determining what qualifies as a high quality site. Here are some of the key takeaways for Kontera Publishers:
- You are being judged on the basics; make sure to double check your content for Spelling, Grammar, and Factual Errors. Features like the Instant in Search have proven that Google’s able to successfully predict what you’re looking for before you even finish typing the word. It’s pretty safe to assume they can also tell the difference between “there” and “their”.
- Don’t become a broken record. When Publishers experience a level of success with a certain post, there’s a temptation to follow that up with several similarly titled posts, covering identical topics. That would be a red flag. Google is looking for you to demonstrate a depth of knowledge – once you’ve established your site’s subject, make sure that you’re covering that topic from as many different angles as possible.
- Similarly, it’s important your site doesn’t become too eclectic. This can be an issue if publishers ignore their site’s theme, and instead begin blogging about whatever keyword happens to be hot that day. But it can also be an issue if publishers are genuinely interested in a variety of different topics. There’s nothing wrong with that, however just to be on the safe side, create separate sites for your separate interests.
- Provide articles with original content, reporting, or analysis. While judging value might seem like a subjective thing, in the macro it’s anything but. In-bound links and other writers picking up your story are likely key indicators to Google if your site has quality, unique content. The amount of comments could also be a contributing factor in determining a site’s authority.
- The amount of time people spend on your site, and the amount of return visitors speak pretty definitively to how much a site is valued. We don’t know for sure if Google Analytics is information used towards determining Search rank (there’s a chicken or the egg issue there) but if you do implement Analytics, it should give you great insight into how you’re tracking on site quality.
- Trust factors into Rank. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site, is a critical question Google is looking to answer. For websites that rely on sales transactions, making sure you are PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant, and displaying a badge to that effect should go a long way in establishing that trust.
In all, while Singhal did give some good specifics about how you can make your site Panda compliant and hinted at a great deal more, the chief point of his blog post was quality sites really have nothing to worry about. Search engines will continue to tweak their algorithms, but the core questions they’re trying to answer with those changes remain the same. At the end of the day, the best content is ultimately going to be what gets the best results.
Categories: Blogging Tips