Entries Tagged 'Google algorithms' ↓

High Quality Content and the Panda – Part One

Neil Stoneham of Voxtree has kindly agreed to allow me to re-post his blog High Quality Content and the Panda – Part One on Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.

When I was setting up Voxtree early last year, I googled the words ‘copywriting business’ and recoiled at what I saw. Among those offering genuinely useful advice were sites with content so badly written, you wondered how on earth the authors had the cheek to call themselves writers at all. Grammar was appalling, there was nothing resembling a structure and much of the content made no sense whatsoever.

Cut to April 2012 and I google the same words. This time, the vast majority of content is of decent quality – mainly written by copywriters with a track record and, thankfully, a good dose of writing ability.

So, what happened? The Panda happened, that’s what!

Shortly after my initial search, Google initiated the ‘Panda’ update. Without going into too much geek-speak, they changed search algorithms to reward good quality writing that is viewed for a reasonable length of time – and therefore actually read – as well as shared by other users.

In the bad old days, the search-bots would reward quantity over quality and thus saw the birth of content mills – farms of ‘copywriters’ happy to churn out keyword-dense copy for pitifully small amounts of money. It didn’t matter that these documents were hastily written – the main criteria being that the keywords fitted into something vaguely resembling an article. After all, the content wasn’t designed to be read by humans. As long as it wasn’t so stuffed with mumbo jumbo that Google would penalise them, then that was okay.

The good news is that the writing is on the wall (ha!) for this approach to content. There has been a tangible shift in the way that good quality copy is perceived by business people – partly driven by the Panda update but also from the perspective of increased competition in an economy that is putting many companies on the back foot.

It’s also good for those of us who take pride in producing properly researched and well-crafted copy. There’ll probably always be a market for cheap copy – a quick update here and there or frequent blog updates don’t usually tax a good copywriter too much. But hopefully the days of googling for advice on copywriting and having to trawl through reams of rubbish written by some poor hack – no doubt wondering where the next Pot Noodle is coming from – will soon be long gone.

Here is a good blog that goes into some more depth on the issue.

In part two, I’ll be looking at ways you can add high quality content that is relevant AND attracts Brownie Points from Google!

The Changing Face of Search – Google Gets Personal with “Search Plus Your World”

Google’s constantly changing its algorithms to keep us on our toes. But the latest change to its search results is probably the most drastic yet.

“Search Plus Your World” will find content that has been shared with you privately along with matches from the public web, all mixed into a single set of listings, according to a recent post that appeared on Searchengineland.com.

At the moment it will only happen for those signed-in to Google.com and searching in English. For some it will make life a lot easier; however for others, it raises concerns about privacy. Although the private content remains just that, private, it may make the content more visible to friends and family.

Of course, Google’s search has been personalised for some time now, in fact since 2005, and has evolved constantly since then:

The personalisation of Google searches

What will the new search method mean?

Your new personalised results will include:

  • Listings from the web (general)
  • Listings from the web (in relation to your personal behaviour)
  • Listings from the web (in relation to your social connections)
  • Public Google+ posts, photos or Google Picasa photos
  • Private or limited Google+ posts, photos or Google Picasa photos shared with you

You search results will show you the number of personal results and the number of other results. Plus, a new button will appear on the right of your results that will enable you to toggle between your personalised and non-personalised results.

For more information about these changes, take a look at the full article and find out why Google’s results will get more personal with “Search Plus Your World.”

Keeping Up With Google

It’s very true when people say nothing in life ever stays the same.

If you’re into internet marketing you will definitely appreciate that. Google is constantly changing its algorithms. One minute your website could be riding high, the next it could be sinking fast.

But Google doesn’t do it just to be difficult. As a search engine, Google’s number one priority is its users. The constant changes occur to improve the quality of its search results. This is what Google said about the latest change:

The “Panda” algorithm change has improved rankings for a large number of high-quality websites, so most of you reading have nothing to be concerned about. However, for the sites that may have been affected by Panda we wanted to provide additional guidance on how Google searches for high-quality site. Think about…

  • 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 shallower 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, encyclopaedia 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?”

(Source: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality.html)

In essence, if you focus on publishing high quality content that your readers will want to read and share, you should be OK.

7 Pillars of good websites

To sum up what Google are talking about, here are 7 tips to help you enjoy some great rankings:

  1. Make sure your website’s content is aimed at your reader at all times (not the search engines)
  2. Your content must focus on quality not quantity
  3. The links to your site must be quality links
  4. Keep it social – although there is no direct evidence as to how this will help your rankings, Google is now providing real-time social sharing in its search results
  5. Don’t duplicate content across websites as Google will only show the most relevant and original content
  6. Don’t overdose on advertisements on your website
  7. Make sure your title tags and META descriptions tell Google what your site is about (and make them meaningful and not just stuffed with your keywords)

So there you go – make sure you write for your reader and not the search engines.

I think I’ll give Google the last word:

 “Our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus too much on what they think are Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals”

 Sally Ormond – copywriter, blogger and social media addict who’s rather partial to toffee