There has been widespread criticism of Google since the search giant launched the Panda update earlier this year in response to the growing concern about content farms.
Some business directly blamed Google for the sudden drop in rankings and bristled at the apparent unfairness of it all. However Google has responded to the criticism and released a statement which it hopes might settle a few nerves, and hopefully point websites in the right sort of direction for future content provision. The question is, though, will this reassurance be enough to pacify those who feel unjustly persecuted?
In the statement Google tried to put the Panda update into context: it maintained that Panda was just 1 of 500 changes it intends to introduce to its algorithm update this year: in fact since Panda was first introduced there have been a further 12 updates to the algorithm calculation. A spokesman for the company insisted that those who were quick to criticise the changes were actually missing the point. The purpose of these changes was to make websites look at the quality of the content they were creating and to focus purely on that, rather than fixate on the algorithm changes. Google wants websites to deliver a quality experience for users, and to do that it needs to promote the sites with the highest quality whilst at the same time removing the low quality, parasitical sites that feed off them.
So far, so good then – we now understand why it introduced the tweaks, but who defines quality, and how can an algorithm differentiate between what’s good and what’s bad?
Well, it appears it’s more sophisticated than any of us imagined. For obvious reasons the company won’t disclose its workings, but they have given a list of suggestions or questions that content writers might choose to look at before updating websites. These are the sort of questions Google’s programmers used as bench marks when they composed the update, and give an insight of the mindset of the people who determine what counts as quality website content.
The list of questions is too long to go in to in depth, but anyone who’s really interested can always go Google Webmaster Central Blog for the full Monty, should they feel the need. Here, though, is a small taster and suggestions you might care to bare in mind next time you’re considering putting pen to paper, or more accurately finger to keyboard.
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well?
- Is the article shallow or unconvincing?
- Does the site have duplicate or overlapping articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or is the content written simply to rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does it tell you anything you didn’t know before?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Would you trust information from this site?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Don’t say you haven’t been warned.