That depends… does your website contain quality content? Google’s latest algorithm change, which they are calling significant compared to the ongoing subtle changes, will impact 11.8% of search queries. What kind of impact? Essentially, high-quality content will be rewarded with higher rankings, while websites with low-quality content will plummet, and in some cases, disappear from search results. Even websites containing predominantly good content can be hurt by a few bad pages. Ouch!
So, what determines whether or not your site contains ‘good content’? Isn’t that somewhat subjective? Without giving away any of those precious algorithm secrets coveted by many a web marketing nerd, Google outlined the criteria on which the new algorithm is based. The long list can be boiled down into these points:
- Is the content original, thorough, insightful and written by an expert, or is it shallow fluff?
- Does the site contain duplicate content, even very similar content with different keyword variations?
- Are there any grammatical, stylistic or factual errors?
- Is the content created based on reader interest or high-ranking search terms?
- Does the site offer trustworthy advice and secure credit card processing?
- Would you bookmark, recommend or share the content?
- Do excessive ads distract from the main content?
Aside from suggesting you pay attention to the above criteria when developing new content, Google also recommends removing any existing content that could be deemed low quality by these standards.
The Big Picture
Essentially this algorithm change is good news for good copywriters, white hat SEO experts and the smart business folks who hire them. It’s bad news for people who try to cut corners and trick search engines into driving traffic with fluffy, keyword-stuffed content that doesn’t consider the reader.
Now, more than ever, good, customer-centric content is king, and farming less than stellar content with little or no effort in order to drive traffic is becoming a rejected practice. Writing for the site visitor is taking an even bigger role over writing for search engines (according to a search engine, ironically).
The main concern with this update, however, is that well-meaning websites that contain good content for the most part could still be negatively affected should Google detect even a small amount of what the algorithm registers as bad content.
Can Your Site Be Affected?
If you’re concerned your site could be affected by the algorithm change and are confused about the criteria, you could submit your site for review by a web copywriter or other web marketing specialist. A professional copywriter, especially one who’s familiar with ethical SEO practices, can spot bad content a mile away, and even offer suggestions for improvement.
If you’re starting a website for your business from scratch, working with SEO specialists can help you get started right, and reduce your chances of low rankings.
Aside from hiring professionals, these general guidelines should also improve your chances of achieving higher rankings:
- Spend a little extra time planning, researching and writing your blog posts or articles. If you don’t have the time, approach experts in your field to write guest articles.
- Avoid the money-saving temptation of outsourcing to spammy, low-cost service providers, which greatly increases the chances of populating your site with grammatically incorrect, typo-riddled, low quality content.
- Don’t hire ‘black hat’ SEO companies, who often employ unethical and spammy techniques, which did work at one point, but can get your site blacklisted (essentially removing it from search results) now more than ever.
- If you’re writing your own content — edit, edit, edit! And then edit some more and have colleagues proofread it for you to prevent typos and errors from slipping by.
- If you’re including keywords in your content for search engine optimization, ensure they fit logically, and in a way that makes sense to the reader. Don’t force it or overdo it.
- Check your facts and support your claims.
- If you’ve got an online store, ensure your e-commerce system is trusted and secure.
Quality Over Quantity
From what Google has communicated regarding this latest algorithm change, it’s evident they’re moving toward offering greater rewards for genuine, user-centric, thoughtful and technically flawless content. If you haven’t already, it’s probably wise to take our Google overlords’ lead.
Are you happy with the Panda update? Share your thoughts below.