It’s been just over a year now since Google released its Panda update and the results have seen content marketing become a key part of the seo toolkit, as marketers rush to produce good quality, original content.

Google is judging your content

Panda was a shock to the system. The update targeted what Google describes as ‘thin content,’ with content farms and paid-for links firmly in its crosshairs. It brought an extra dimension to its search algorithm that looked to root out poor quality content.

There are different criteria it uses to identify poor content, including:

  • duplicate content which has been lifted directly from other sites
  • pages with irrelevant keywords
  • spelling, style and factual errors
  • a high ad-to-content ratio
  • hidden text and links
  • cloaked content – sites which present different content to visitors as they show to search engines
  • linking schemes such as paid-for links

In other words it hates plagiarism, poor quality copy, mistakes and misleading content – all the things that turn readers off.

What makes good content?

Google is essentially making an editorial judgement – it actually wants to know if your content is any good.

Of course ‘good content’ is very subjective. But through Panda, Google is rewarding content that’s:

  • relevant
  • original
  • interesting
  • well-written

It’s great news for marketers who’ve really put the work in to create fresh, interesting content.

But for content farms and marketing departments flooding sites with low-quality content? Panda has slapped them down the rankings, with some big websites like eHow and US retail giant JC Penney paying the price (to clarify, JC Penney's downfall in this respect was also down to Google's anti-spam team catching them for buying links).

The great thing about Panda however is that it’s just as easy to get on its good side as it was to take a hit in the rankings in the first place.

Remove or improve

Improving your content and giving users something that’s fresh and original will help get you back on Panda’s good side and rise up the rankings again.

The Panda update is run fairly regularly, reclassifying content and organising Google’s search rankings.

Improve or remove your ‘bad content’ and you’ll pass through and rise up the rankings.

Here’s a few ways you can make sure your content stays on the right side of Google Panda.

  • Create new pages – Google Panda loves original, well-researched content with relevant links and clear calls to action.
  • Remove duplicate content – there’s no need to repeat the same information over and over. Try consolidating it into fewer, well-written pages.
  • Rewrite some of your weaker pages and remove elements like paid-for links which could downgrade the page in Panda’s eyes.