Google continuously updates its algorithm and the most recent update Google Panda (named after Google software engineer, Navneet Panda) is now live and actively impacting the ranking of websites on SERPS. This update is not to make our lives as website owners, web designers and SEO consultants difficult but to deliver better and more relevant results to users. This helps it to stay ahead of the competition and keeps people using Google which therefore generates more traffic for Google AdWords advertisers – at the time of writing Google gets about $65 billion revenue worldwide and $6 billion in the UK per annum.
The latest Google Panda update is now live. A Google spokesman gave this statement:
“Panda is an algorithm that’s applied to sites overall and has become one of our core ranking signals. It measures the quality of a site, which you can read more about in our guidelines. Panda allows Google to take quality into account and adjust ranking accordingly.”
Page removal as a last resort
By examining the effect on websites that have fluctuated in rankings, some SEOs and web designers have attempted to ‘fix’ sites but ending up hurting the rankings even further. There is a long-held belief that one must remove all low-quality content from a site to recover is a perfect example of this. Causation is not correlation and some webmasters ended up removing content that was at worst neutral when it came to a site’s overall impact on search engine rankings.
Therefore you should evaluate low quality content and see whether they could be improved first before removal. This should be a last resort.
Your first port of call should be Search Analytics in Google Search Console to determine what pages are getting traffic and identify potential candidates for content that needs improving due to zero Google referral traffic. Then look at the candidates and assess whether they can be improved or updated or removed.
Senior Google personnel have suggested that instead of page removal it would be better to simply prevent it from being indexed in your robots.txt file or use the NOINDEX tag.
What determines a quality website
When it comes to what determines a quality website here are some of the many factors that Google themselves have issued as guidance:
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well,
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- 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?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopaedia or book?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
It is worth spending some time looking over these guidelines as this is what Google software engineers build into the search algorithm and Google Panda. The best approach as ever is to focus on the best user experience.