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BizReport : Blogs & Content archives : April 01, 2013

How Google's Panda update is changing content sourcing

For many brands optimized blog content has been considered a huge selling point but one expert warns that Google's latest Panda update is changing how spiders looks at content - and suggests brands need to change their view of content as well.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: How is Google's latest Panda update impacting brands?

Grant Simmons, Director, SEO and Social Product, The Search Agency: As Panda has iterated, brands have been pushed to focus on the production of higher quality content which both attracts a higher level of user engagement and has the potential for promotion via social sharing & engagement.

Brands that have not moved from a 'quantity to quality' mindset may find themselves penalized in results as Google seeks to rank better content higher in the search results.

Kristina: What do businesses need to know about the algorithm changes to push their brands forward?

Grant: The most important consideration for brands is to change their view of content. It's no longer sufficient to build content that is solely for search engines, so a lens must be applied to content planning and production that asks a few questions:

• "What would the intent of a user searching for this content likely be?"
• "Would this content satisfy that intent?"
• "Is there additional value to a user?"
• "Would a user be likely to share this content?"
• "Would other users find this content interesting, educational, humorous, or inspiring?"

The content lens where "every piece of content must answer a particular search query" that is defined (by Google) as focuses on content that may be 'thin,' or provides little value to users, will no longer rank in Google's search results. Creating thousands of articles, product descriptions or city information at scale cannot be easily automated, so brands should prepare and budget accordingly as the cost of SEO content increases with an added focus on quality.

Kristina: How does Panda promote content?

Grant: The Panda update was developed by combining the machine definition of 'quality' with human review, "Google Search Quality Guidelines." In reviewing the factors most likely to result in a test user labeling a page or content as 'thin,' Google was able to overlay a quality factor on their search results, devaluing some content, and promoting others, in an effort to meet their goals of improving the value of search results.

It should not be forgotten that there are many factors in rankings that go beyond content quality. Core optimization, perceived (or calculated) authority, site engagement metrics and social sharing are just a few of the contributions to the over 200 ranking factors. However, much of these factors rely on good content, which in turn is subject to Panda's assignment of value.

Kristina: And how does that impact brands and content providers?

Grant: Quality over quantity should be a brand mantra with the understanding that Google looks at sites as a whole as well as individual pieces of content. Panda factors ratios of quality across a web domain, identifies topic relevance within single pages and looks at distinct topic focus to assess satisfaction of queries. The 'sniff test' of "would a user find this useful" is an integral part of the Panda algorithm, and a lens through which all content should be measured against. Research, resources and restraint are need to implement a content strategy that builds methodically and purposefully to attain great visibility with Google SERPS for core topics.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: branded content, content strategy, Google Panda, online content, The Search Agency

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