3 Ways to Keep Google Panda Fed and Happy
Obsessing over quality content is fast becoming a search marketer’s past time. In June’s SEO Newsletter, we talked about Google Panda 2.2’s coming, and further scrutinizing content to make sure it plays into the factors Google uses to determine quality.
Let’s take away the speculation and guessing for now, and focus on what we do know – tried and true methods that ensure quality in Web content for SEO.
And that’s what we’re going to focus on today: three things we think keeps the Panda fed and happy:
- Authoritative, diligent and in-depth content
- Following Google quality guidelines
- Siloing content to create a themed site
1. Capture the Brand and Its Knowledge
As a business owner, you’ve been in the trenches of your industry and know it inside and out. But business owners are seldom the creators of content for their sites – even when they are, the following advice applies: capture knowledge and put it into writing.
When I first came on board here, I shared some ways I get into the minds of business owners and industry experts, as well as understand a business and its products and services prior to writing Web content.
You cannot write in-depth content until you break apart a brand, its products and services into tiny bits to better understand how they work, their purpose and the messaging that’s going to best serve the business.
So, what if the business owner doesn’t know anything about the industry? What if they are just starting out?
This actually does happen. People start businesses because they know that’s where the money is at with little to no background on the industry.
This is where, as a writer, it’s important to do your research. And then do your research again. And then fact check.
Go to credible sources that you know Google trusts. Authoritative sites, books, publications. Google Scholar is a good place to find scientific, research-based supporting information as well.
And if you don’t have all the answers, say it. Let your readers know there are differing opinions; share both sides of the story.
Don’t write to sell; write to educate.
And according to some of the criteria that Google uses to evaluate Web content, these steps are a must in your quality assurance process.
This brings me to the next point:
2. Follow Google’s Quality Guidelines
Instead of freakishly obsessing over every factor that Google may be scrutinizing, try starting with what Google tells us is important. In a May post on the Google Webmaster Central blog, Google gave a list of questions that represent its mindset when evaluating quality.
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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, encyclopedia 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’s not hard to see that Google just wants us to approach content with the same diligence a journalist would, and the same depth an expert of any given topic would.
Sometimes it takes both. Experts aren’t always writers and writers aren’t always experts. It takes work, and this is something site owners must be willing to invest in.
And guess what? Google also gives a lot of insight into its definition of quality in its webmaster guidelines. Here, Google not only talks about the content within a site, but also the structure of a site and how that plays into quality and user experience.
Remember, Google wants what is best for the user.
So, how do you best structure a site for both users and SEO? One way is through the practice of siloing.
3. Silo a Site’s Content
Siloing, or linking pages by theme, on a site helps the search engines and visitors easily navigate and get the information they need about a topic.
Siloing also helps in making a site more authoritative and relevant for any given topic by providing ample amount of supporting information on any given subject matter.
Bruce Clay has been teaching the concept of siloing since the dawn of time plus infinity. And you know what? It works.
If you have a bunch of random topics spread across your site with no real rhyme or reason, this can confuse both the search engines and the visitors as to what your site is about. It can also make it hard for a person to find what they are looking for.
On the other hand, complete lack of information about a topic can also work against a site.
This is why it’s a good strategy to create these carefully planned groups of information on your site that relate to your business, its products or services.
To establish clear themes in your site navigation, first identify the major topics of a site.
If you’re starting from scratch with a new site, the primary keywords you choose for your products and services will be built into the landing pages and serve as the concepts for the major topics; the secondary keywords will help form concepts for supporting information pages underneath.
A quick-and-dirty illustration of what that navigation might look like is:
- Major Theme
- Subtopic 1
- Subtopic 2
- Subtopic 3
- Subtopic 4
Whether you’re launching a new site with siloing built into the navigation or re-evaluating an existing site, siloing is a strategy worth investigating. Read more about how to virtual silo to help create an authoritative and relevant site Panda will love.
Got tips on how to keep Panda fed and happy? Please share them with us in the comments below!