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Google Panda: 10 Ways Panda Update Determines Content Quality

Google Panda is the Google algorithm that specifically attempts to improve the relevance of search results. While the Penguin algorithm focuses more on link quality, Panda is still very important and focuses on content quality. The standards Google uses in Panda are, like its namesake, fairly black and white.

10 Ways Google Determines Content Quality

1 ) Links: Especially from recognized “authority” sites within a particular niche are an important indication of content quality, as far as Google is concerned. One good “authority” link can bring thousands of visitors to a site in a matter of hours, so it’s worthwhile to proactively target authority sites. The best way to provide “link bait” is to look at what those authority sites link to, and develop similar, but unique content of that type. (To find authority sites, type “your” keyword into Google and take note of the first page of results.

2 ) Social Media Referrals: Social media referrals are another way Google identifies quality content. A simple review of your Facebook.com page can show what types of content are most often liked, shared, and commented upon. Humor, graphics, video, and “helpful” links are among the most popular.

3 ) Quantity of Content: Quantity of content may appear to be an important factor as top search results are often given to “big business” players and/or “brands”. However, keyword research and creative strategies can overcome the quantity bias by fine-tuning your niche. For example, the keyword “books” will certainly bring up Amazon or Barnes & Noble, so emphasizing that keyword on your page may not be as effective as emphasizing the topic of your book, such as “frugal cooking” or “inexpensive meals.

4 ) Update Frequency: Content update frequency is another factor that points to quality content. Here, again, the small business may be at a significant advantage by being able to act quickly, without waiting for multiple corporate approvals of content changes. Document content update (the way content changes over time) is very important to Google.

5 ) Article Length: The ideal article length online is generally thought to be about 500 words. If the article is too long, visitors click away. If it’s too short, it doesn’t provide enough information, or could seem to be a snippet of something which could be much longer somewhere else. For instance, the New York Times splits pages (Page 2, Page3) at about 750 – 800 words. This leaves you to assume they feel anything more would be too long.

6 ) Quality of Content: An important quality factor that is the subject of great debate is “unique content”. Some experts declare that a “duplicate content” penalty renders article marketing obsolete. However, the “duplicate content penalty” is shrouded in mystery. If your site includes both unique and exclusive original content as well as “topically related reprints”, the duplicate content should be seen as a supplement and avoid penalties.

7 ) Avoid Cookie Cutter Pages: Does your site have redundant pages that offer the same information with different keywords? This can lower the “quality” rating of your entire site. It’s better to have a few focused pages than a dozen repeats of the same content targeting different keywords. If you provide services in other cities or states, do not create the pages and just replace the city and state words, leaving the rest of the content intact. You need to create completely unique pages which focus on those cities or states and the content should be clear, consider, and written tightly around those terms. Pages which are very similar but only replace a few words are no good.

8 ) Unique Descriptions: Unique page descriptions can help search engines differentiate between pages and return the most relevant search results. Google’s Webmaster Tools suggests that “Addressing too long, too short, or duplicate meta descriptions may help your site’s user experience and performance.” This suggestion can be found in Webmaster Tools – Optimization – HTML Suggestions.

9 ) Spelling Quality: Another indicator of poor quality content is obvious errors in spelling and grammar. Be sure to proofread your pages, Google is checking spelling. Google’s Chrome browser features a built in spell checker tool. Google even has a spell checker right in the Google search box (red squiggly line). Spelling is important to Google and your rankings, so make sure it is important to you.

10 ) Advertising Ratio: The final factor in evaluating quality is advertising ratio. While advertising may be an important aspect of monetizing your site, too much advertising detracts from the overall quality. It can also sometimes slows down the loading of your pages, another factor Google evaluates for search, not content quality, which is why it is not in this list, but for usage quality.

Below video is from  May 25, 2011, not this year.

SEO is constantly evolving, and new tactics evolve to accomplish maximum search results. But in the long run, the tried and true mantra is still “content is king”. Especially in the eyes of Google’s Panda. Going through this list is a great way to evaluate your content and fix, correct and improve issues you might be pushing your luck with. If ever there was a time to “clean up your SEO act”, its now.