Amit Singhal, the head of Google’s search quality team department, recently posted on Webmaster Central Blog with some advice on helping those affected by the Panda update and other recent algorithm changes.
Titled “More guidance on building high-quality sites”, the honorary Google Fellow goes into ways of how you can assess whether your own site or pages are google-worthy or not.
Amit writes, “The recent ‘Panda’ change tackles the difficult task of algorithmically assessing website quality. Taking a step back, we wanted to explain some of the ideas and research that drive the development of our algorithms.”
Amit then continues with a list of questions (23 to be precise) that you should pose towards your own site and content, questions which Google may qualify as a high quality site.
Expanding on the Panda Quality Guidlines…
We have found a lot of people asking questions on this additional guidance. Some of the questions Amit presents are vague and some appear to be identical in nature.
Please note each question doesn’t relate to a specific part of their algorithm – it is Google providing us a way of determining if your site is failing and/or how you could improve it.
Here is my take on what the questions are posing and expanding on their meaning:
Would you trust the information presented in this article?
Are your pages factually correct, not misleading in anyway.
Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
Are the articles on your site written by someone posing as an expert? Are they skewed in such a way to gain rankings in that particular keyword?
Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
This one is for the visitor as well as the site. Steer away from unoriginal content leading to more variations of the same content which is geared specifically for keyword rankings.
Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
This is down to an issue of trust. Is the site worthy taking information about you? Is security up to date and configured properly. Contact information readily available, etc.
Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
This is another one more for the end user. Content that is near unintelligible can annoy and detract visitors from their surfing experience.
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?
Is the content for genuine reasons or is it keyword first then construct content.
Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
A simple one: Is your content original, well thought out and researched?
Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
Is your resource Google-worthy when compared to what’s out there already. Can you improve on it?
How much quality control is done on content?
Is the content checked for updates, spelling mistakes, etc. If there is user generated content are you checking for any unscrupulous activities?
Does the article describe both sides of a story?
This falls down to research and user experience. Users visiting one-sided articles might find the site untrustworthy.
Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
If you are not already an authority on your subject matter then this is another way of saying you should produce better content for your readers/visitors.
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?
This is down to making a site an authority site. Having your content on different sites, with varying degrees of quality, doesn’t help your cause.
Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
Again, for user experience. Serving poorly constructed pages doesn’t bode well for Google in its quest for retaining users.
For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
Another issue of, is your site trustworthy. Although why this question is just related to health is just vague.
Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
This one is about Branding. A brand can make a difference to who is visiting your site. If no one is visiting your site by brand alone then you might have issues retaining those visitors. A consequence might be people not linking naturally to your pages.
Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
Again, for visitors. Are all angles covered so that the user feels fulfilled from their initial query – making it a quality resource.
Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
Unique information and analyisis pays dividends from users and Google alike.
Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Good quality content/information, branding and trust all rolled into one. Visitors linking to your content naturally are a big plus in Google’s eyes.
Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
Visitors can easily be distracted by advertisements, considered almost as a nuisance, and they might visit another page for the same information.
Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
If you can produce content that is worthy of print or an encyclopedia you should have no worries. But this should be the aim for most informational pages of your site.
Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
If an uninterested user can easily find the same info, and more, from somewhere else then consider changing tactics fast. Produce better content with an overall better user experience for them to get engage with.
Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
Laziness and sloppiness never gets anyone anywhere.
Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Then you are doing Google a disservice. Untrustworthy info such as plagiarism, misleading information, etc. can result in people scoring down or negatively reacting to your site. This one might fall into branding.
In all what Google are trying to do is provide a better user experience for their visitors:
A good mix of results that have unique content and are of relevance to the user; pages which also take into consideration user experience – sites which you would visit again, if needs be.
If users are served poor results then over time they will go to a competitor to find that information instead, something Google definitely doesn’t want.