When the World Wide Web got hit with the Hummingbird update from Google in August of last year, content marketers were left scrambling to adjust. And though we knew life without our provided keywords would be tough, we also knew that there would be ways to overcome it. Simply put, it was clear we needed to put less emphasis on our keywords and more emphasis on the context of the user’s search.
In fact, as my colleague, Frank Isca, pointed out in his blog post 8 months ago, “Stop Worrying About Future Google Algorithm Updates Using This One Trick,” rather than focusing on beating the search algorithm with SEO tricks, organizations just need to focus on creating high-quality, original content – and lots of it!
Fast forward to May of this year, when Google has announced yet another algorithm update: Panda 4.0. And while the SEO shockwaves weren’t nearly as large as its Hummingbird predecessor, the core purpose of the update was the same: remove low-quality, irrelevant websites from the SERPs. How? By targeting low-quality sites that don’t publish original content – particularly sites that aggregate their content from other sources. As more and more brands continue to crank out marketing content, users are looking for the best answer to their search questions, not the answers that are rehashed in 20 different places.
That being said, if it wasn’t clear that marketers need to focus on high-quality, original content before, Panda 4.0 has surely driven that point home. In fact, I think I can hear Frank saying, “Told you so!” from here.
As content marketers look to readjust their strategies after the latest round of updates, however, it’s important to know how Google distinguishes between high- and low-quality websites. Thankfully, a few months after Panda’s initial algorithm update in 2011, Matt Cutts answered the question head-on.
In order to create high-quality content that will outlast any SEO updates, make sure you can answer these 10 crucial questions:
- Are your 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 the search engines?
- Does your site have duplicate or redundant content on the same topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Is the content spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages don’t get as much attention?
- Does the content provide original information, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the content provide a comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this content contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in the search results?
- Is the content written by an expert who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the content have any spelling or factual errors?
- Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract readers from the main context?
Though these aren’t the only 10 questions that help define high-quality content, they’re certainly the most important. By focusing on creating content that’s unique, comprehensive, and helpful to your audience, you should have no worries when it comes to any algorithm changes – especially Panda 4.0!