Google PandaAs many of you may have now heard, Head of Webspam at Google, Matt Cutts this week announced that as early as Friday we can expect an update to the Panda algorithm; the algorithm designed to help Google downrank low quality sites, and in turn ensure that higher rankings are achieved only by those with high-quality websites.

In terms of determining what is deemed as a high quality site, after the first Panda update, Google provided some insight via their Webmaster Central Blog. Questions they recommended website owners and administrators should be asking themselves included:

– Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?

– 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?

The full list can be found here.

So, are you about to be hit by this update? Well, if you’re playing by the rules, hopefully not. If you’re not following Google’s advice then only time will tell, however, Search Engine Watch have stated: “Keep an eye on your analytics over the next few days. If you see an unexplainable surge in traffic, it could indicate that Panda is about to maul your website“.

For those taking a non-ethical approach to their marketing, this probably isnt the news you want to hear, however, if you’re still not creating high-quality, relevant, informative content that your users want to digest, then it’s time you start doing so to give your site the best chance of avoiding a penalty or of recovering if you do get hit. In the words of Google “we encourage you to focus on delivering the best possible experience for users“.
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