Google has had very little to say to hurting webmasters who saw their rankings tank overnight due to Google’s rollout of the Panda Update. Many of these webmasters have depended on traffic from Google to pay mortgages and feed their families — and many sites were forced to lay off staff and no doubt others have just shut down.
Previously, beyond telling webmasters to identify and remove (or improve) low-quality or “shallow” content, Google hasn’t had much to say. Until today, at least. In a blog post on Google Webmaster Central, Google’s Amit Singhal has posted what he calls “guidance” to webmasters in the form of 24 questions you should ask yourself as you go about recovering and determining “quality.”
- 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 more shallow 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, encyclopedia 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?
Singhal also notes that since Panda rolled out, Google has rolled out more than a dozen additional tweaks. But that doesn’t matter to a few people who have already commented on Singhal’s post, noting a very obvious flaw that Google still hasn’t conquered: scrapers are outranking the original content in many cases. It is pretty amazing that for all the geniuses Google employs, they can’t figure out how to determine the originator of the exact same content.