Google’s Panda Algorithm Update Lives On: 10 Ways To Raise Your Content Quality Rating

Your Content Quality May be Killing your Rankings

Are you frustrated by your website’s poor performance on Google rankings? Are your visitors from social media or PPC campaigns coming and leaving quick? Poor performance is a big deal and affect the viability of your business.

What low rankings are telling you is that your brand friendly, cutesy, minimalist copy and weak visual content is telling Google your site sucks!  Don’t despair because you can befriend Google again by making quality job #1.

When SEO gurus talk about content quality, they’re more often referring to how Google interprets site and page quality, yet we know that your human readers who read it, share it, and comment on it are vital. Excellent, original content then has to appeal to robots and humans simultaneously. Most content writers struggle with search engine friendly copywriting let alone truly optimized copy.

Is Google Getting Rid of Your Content?

Panda Penguin images courtesy of Web Yours.

Google’s trying to mimic how real human beings experience and judge web content value using their search engine algorithm. You can think of Google’s algorithm loosely as a database filter that attempts to strip away poor quality content and bad user experiences to leave the good stuff. That could mean anything from thin weak, non-useful content, hacked pages, viruses, chewed up page code, slow loading times,  misrepresentation and a site cluttered with slow loading code and advertising.

Their quality checker actually goes further with the latest update called RankBrain, where Google’s software attempts to learn on the fly which content is better. RankBrain, according to Google is a completely new search algorithm.

Google’s updates get funny names like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, and RankBrain. The mascots behavior is selective, looking for bad things, or focusing on the best natural source.

Did Panda actually happen? Take a look at this traffic view of a site that looks like it got hit bad by the Panda 4.2 update. This site got hit from May to September of 2015. Yet, we can see they recovered just fine.

Screen capture courtesy of

This could also have been a Penguin type penalty where the company had to act fast and disavow all the spammy inbound links that Google had suddenly detected. They never know when Google will detect their devious spam attempts and kill their rankings.

Google publishes their own guidelines on creating and publishing high quality content. We have to keep in mind that your rankings depend on more than Panda quality.  There’s also the issue of inbound link quality, trustrank, and factors such as user engagement and how many times your content is cited, shared, or linked to. People tend to return to a site with good content and they tell others.  Pagerank and semantic/related word relevance are sort of combined to help them zero in on specific topics. Knowing to how optimize your site, pages and internal linking so that Google gets the right message is an art. It’s a critical component of your digital marketing strategy.

Why are My Rankings Stuck?

If you find your site on the 2nd page or lower, it could mean your site isn’t trusted, or that you don’t have enough inbound links to your site. It could also signify you’re in a competitive keyword category such as auto insurance, software, or lawyer keywords. And it can likely mean your site is poorly optimized. There’s more than quality to consider, as Google has more than 200 factors it covers when ranking web pages. It’s a good idea to review your content instead of “setting and forgetting” which most companies do. Your content can be re-optimized for better performance. Here’s some other SEO tips.

Google tries to view quality by how your visitors are interacting with it and whether they share it or return to your site. A content strategist, would be tasked to organize your content as a whole and to allow hundreds of different SEO pathways through that content. In the past, you just set up navigation menu links for products, services, blog, press, technology, and other categories. For a lot of company websites, this is still how it’s done.

This is Apple’s homepage in the graphic below. What does it say about the user experience, and is Apple suffering because it’s not adapting to the diverse shopping behaviors of digital electronics consumers? Has Apple backed into its self-referencing world of the Apple brand (listed in the menu) while not attaching themselves to the mainstream of digital electronics conversation? 

Screenshot of homepage courtesy of Apple Inc.

Here’s Matt Cutts, Google’s Chief Quality Officer in a 2 minute explanation of the last Panda update.

How Can I Raise the Quality of my Content?

Look at the big picture when creating content – does your content and brand make sense for readers?

Here’s a few good ways to improve your Panda scores:

  1. User satisfaction: Dwell on the user experience — are there content paths that each visitor can follow, because Google assumes this indicates an interested visitor who has found something very engaging
  2. Create long and short form content – variety keeps Googlebot and customers interested and informed
  3. Create original content – use both written and visual original content and make it interactive with links to other related content (that’s why SEOs create content on themes and relative to other page’s content, because it makes strategic sense from a topical/keyword stance)
  4. Eliminate thin content or content that appears on other websites and create content that’s deep and well organized
  5. Cull out or recreate awful content that no one is interested in unless it supports some important keyword rankings
  6. Make your content more valuable to the reader so they stay on the page longer
  7. Write on topics people are interested in, not just your most avid, fanatic fans
  8. Make your content interesting with visuals, quotes, stories, comments, and videos that create a more entertaining and persuasive page, but don’t make it look like a visual junk heap
  9. Assess your most successful pages on Google and find characteristics that you think may be the reasons why it ranked well
  10. Don’t use autogenerated or content written in a stilted manner that just doesn’t seem natural or conversational

The Quest for the Highest Quality is Well Under Way

Creating content that Google considers high quality is more difficult, but you have to understand that they’re trying to present better content to users. Think about the role of quality too, not just from a branding perspective but quality in terms of search robots, people, customers, and human reviewers. They may all be important to your rankings.

Review our search engine optimization service packages. We provide significantly more value than high rankings, although you’re probably really focused on conquering Google:)  We’ll get it all done for you.

Bay Street SEO, providing services to marketing agencies, web designers, manufacturers, lawyers, hotels, financial services firms, medical services firms, recruiters, sports companies, and more in Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Boston and Phoenix.

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