Hit By Panda Update? Google Has 23 Questions To Ask Yourself To Improve

panda-crying Amit Singhal, Google’s head of search, published a blog post on the Google Webmaster Central blog named More guidance on building high-quality sites.

Amit’s goal with this post is to have those webmasters impacted by this Panda Update, which rolled out internationally about a month ago, with some direction and guidance to help explain what sites Google likes and which they dislike.

Amit said that he cannot document publicly the “actual ranking signals” but will share questions you should ask yourself and consider when trying to understand why a site was impacted by this update. Those questions include:

    1. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
    2. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
    3. Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
    4. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
    5. Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
    6. Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
    7. Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
    8. Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
    9. How much quality control is done on content?
    10. Does the article describe both sides of a story?
    11. Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
    12. 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?
    13. Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
    14. For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
    15. Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
    16. Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
    17. Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
    18. Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
    19. Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
    20. Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
    21. Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
    22. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
    23. Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

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      About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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      • http://www.redmudmedia.com Ralph

        This is a great list of specifics. Although nothing new here i.e. “content is king” and “quality over quantity” etc. I still feel that Google is somehow offering more in the way of tips than they did say 5 years ago.

        The biggest challenge is still how to place an ROI on content that is likely to be realised within a 6-12 month bracket. Unless you have an experienced content production team in the mould of a Conde Naste or something similar, you really are at the mercy of what might and what might not work.
        We all know that certain formats perform better than others e.g. lists, top 10s etc. however it takes SKILL and a bit of luck to find the magic combination that will work for you.

        My ideal safest bet for creating a dream content team from scratch?

        A librarian (Eric Ward will like that!), an analytics junky, a designer and a qualified journalist/writer.

        Who would you have in your dream team that was built from scratch to focus entirely on developing non-commercial content for your site?

        And secondly, how would you sell this into the business?

        Answers below…

      • TeacherPaul

        Ironic! Under those guidelines, this very report has two negative signals.

        Panda = Paranoia

        Until we see a number of web sites have their quality re-evaluated after they have made quality changes, that’s how it will stay.

      • http://www.marketingignite.com Johan Hedin

        Nice list Barry…However I think that this is nothing new as far as Google’s guidelines..Its all about producing high quality content we hear from Matt Cutts over and over. I am relying more and more traffic from traffic outside google as other popular media is taking over (and more effective as far as conversion goes)…Why being controlled by their guidelines and rules all the time when we can get traffic elsewhere. Being independent of Google is the key to long term success. Does not mean dont use google but look for other ways as well…Why cater to this big organization all the time…

      • http://blog.webpro.in WebPro Technologies

        A good list of quality check factors for website content .

        The most to the point article read by me on the Panda Update till now.

      • http://andrewmjones.com Andrew Jones

        Head of search? I was under the impression Google just has “knowledge” now…

      • http://www.google.com/ Azi Azimi

        I just don buy this BS. The reason a lot of webmasters are unhappy is that Google screwed up on this one and some people just won’t accept it.

      • Ian Williams

        This hasn’t affected our rankings, but I would be keen to find out the ‘countless’ sites that have benefited, as stated by Amit.

        Ralph – I for one am sick of online lists/top 10′s (*cough* Search Engine Journal *cough*)

      • http://blog.webpro.in Bharati

        The latest highly charged buzz on the algorthmic updates of Google especially the Panda Update is truly an indicator that the search and as an offshoot the whole web is going through a transition which is evolutionary in nature.

        I personally am in favor of this and am very happy about the changes which are taking place as I believe these steps are surely going to bring a social wave on search which only sites with high quality standards on all fronts will be able to surf on with their website itself as their surfing board .

        My take on the quality guidelines by Amit Singhal :

        http://blog.webpro.in/2011/05/quality-content-site-guidelines-and.html

      • http://www.redmudmedia.com Ralph

        @Ian Williams – I totally agree with you, I too am bored sh*tless by endless people spouting stuff about quality and listing Google’s guidelines, but more recently I have noticed subtle attempts by Google to lift the lid a little more as they grow increasingly desperate in their attempts to battle spammers.

        My comments are meant to be applied in context of the overall SEO picture i.e. it is the sum of parts that combine not action a or action b that is going to have specific effects on your SEO strategy.

        The reason I like the list above is it gives me some great one liners (e.g. Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?) that I can use in my efforts to secure investment in content for use on site, off site and social media…. Quoting one liners from the horse’s mouth (despite what we may feel about their integrity) seem to carry more weight with the uninitiated than the words of a consultant or agency which are usually met with sceptisism as they seem to be attempting to squeeze more dollars out of a client.
        As an in-house SEO you face the same challenges when it comes to demonstrating the potential ROI of investing in content for the aforementioned reasons. Just last week I was asked why we weren’t building out more SEO pages instead of inviting guest bloggers with industry expertise and huge Twitter followings to write for us instead…

        That’s what I mean when I refer to the overall picture. Sure, old techniques still work and Google have been saying “content is king” since who knows when, but I firmly believe that if you want to develop a site for long term success and make it less vulnerable to big algorithm changes, then you need to invest in good content that engages your users and drives up your share count, links etc.

      • Ian Williams

        @Ralph – Good points; I hadn’t thought of using these guidelines in discussions internally. Cheers!

      • http://www.blackrainconsulting.com Jesse Green

        @Johan and @Ralph The premise for quality SEO is always going to be the same – create quality content on quality site and secure quality links to ensure that any human that finds or reads your site finds “quality”. Sure Google’s guidelines are stringent, but they have to be given the immense amount of lacking quality out there. I hear you on the overuse of both the guidelines and the need for good content, but at the end of the day, that is indeed what makes site content compelling. I assure you there are very few who get up in the morning to read information on a site that has zero value.

      • http://TheAverageGenius.net James

        Yup. Just went down the list and STILL think Google has another EPIC FAIL on their hands.

        They tanked my site – the one that makes my living for me and my 7 kids and wife – which, compared to the detritus they replaced mine with looks like Shakespeare…

        But of course we’re led to believe that Google has “quality signals” in mind…please. Their algo is as illiterate as it gets, and quality is one facet that overall it can’t discern from a hole in the ground.

        Thanks, Google. Then again, who needs to eat?

      • Dolakh Thapa

         Mountain Mart Treks and Expedition: Trekking in Nepal, One of the Best trekking and Adventure Company in Nepal specialized for trekking in Nepal, Nepal tour, hiking, peak climbing, Expedition and adventure holidays.
        http://www.mountainmarttreks.com

      • SEO Services

        It seems that webmaster were caught cheating Google and now its there punish time, I found many sites with nothing like relevant results but were on top positions, may Google push them in the well.Home Remedies

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shankar-Bro/1011760124 Shankar Bro

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