Last Friday, Google posted an update on its Webmaster Central blog titled “Providing More Guidance on Building High-Quality websites“. The blog post expands on much of what Google has said about the infamous Panda update since its first release on February 24th.
In statements about the Panda update, Google has used a number of questions that they’re attempting to answer with an algorithm. “Do you feel comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?” & “Would you take medical advice from this site?” are 2 that have been around since the very beginning. Last Friday’s Webmaster Central post offered up a better list with some of the highlights below:
- Does the website have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Does the article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Are the topics driven by genuine/real interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by trying to guess what might rank well in the search engines?
- Does the article provide original/real content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its particular topic?
- Is the content being mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of content creators, or spread across a large network of websites, so that individual pages or websites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Is this the sort of page you would want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does this article have an excessive amount of advertising that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Will users complain when they see pages from this site?
- Will you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
Answering the “touchy” Questions
We can conclude how Google can algorithmically answer quite a number of the questions, but what about those “touchy” questions, like the credit card issue question? It’s hard to say, but actually having alot of the questions answered about your website might provide some valuable feedback. If you’re an in-house SEO for a website that has been banned, perhaps one of the following services can be used to help a claim for a re-design or some other change in website philosophy.
UserTesting is a high-end feedback solution. For $39 you will get a video of a user interacting with your website. UserTesting lets you to ask the user up-to 4 questions after they’ve completed the feedback video, which would be a execellent place to ask some of our Panda questions.
Other Panda Odds and Ends
NPR did a long story on Panda’s effect on one company’s struggle since it got Panda-fied: Google’s search new tweaks puts a company at risk
Matt Cutts quote from that particular story:
“Think about something like an Apple product, when you buy an Apple product you open it up, the box is beautiful, the packaging is beautiful, the entire experience is really wonderful”.
It sounds to me that this particular statement is really just another way of saying “huge amounts of duplicated or bad content on your site can impact the whole domain”.
Reversing the Effects of the Panda update
Tom Critchlow had this exchange of words with Matt Cutts on Twitter:
Moral of this story: Do not expect rankings to come right back after making changes. This is a quite frustrating because webmasters cannot make a change, wait to see if the change actually “worked”, then try something else. It also might explain why there has been so few reports of websites regaining their traffic.
A 3rd Panda Spotted?
Some rumors picked up in early May that a 3rd Panda update may have gone live. Users were reporting wild fluctuations in their rankings and other weird things in the Google cache and site search commands. Considering what Matt Cutts said above, it actually makes more sense for Panda updates to hit suddenly and all at once, rather than over a longer period of time. Some sources are reporting that their exact match domains took a hit.
So our current Panda timeline now reads:
- Feb 24th, 2011: New Panda rollout on Google.com searches
- April 11th, 2011: New Panda rollout to all English speaking Google sites. Additional tweaks made to original algorithm
- May 3-6th, 2011: Mabe a Third Panda update?
Have you seen any drastic traffic changes during this time frame? Have any of your websites recovered from initially being Panda-fied?