Did You Know Google Panda 4.1 Rewards Quality Content? #FridayFinds

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Have you been keeping up with the latest Google algorithm changes? Do you know what Panda 4.1 is intended to do? Are you concerned that you could potentially lose significant organic search traffic or are you confident that the recent changes in SEO will reward you for quality content? This week, in my #FridayFinds series, we’re going to take an in-depth look at some of the latest news surrounding Google.

Google Rolls Out Panda 4.1

Google Panda was first released on February 24th 2011. Basically, the Panda algorithm was intended to target quality content. After all, Google maintains that its mission is to provide meaningful results in the SERPs (search engine results pages). So, it’s in Google’s best interest if  they deliver search results that meets the needs of the person who is searching. (Essentially, when someone clicks on a URL in the SERPs and they find what they’re looking for, it’s a win-win-win situation where Google, the web user and the site owner who gets the traffic are all winners.)

According to Danny Sullivan (a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land), there have been twenty seven confirmed Panda updates (counting the most recent release on September 25, 2014. In his post, Panda 4.1 — Google’s 27th Panda Update — Is Rolling Out, Danny explains that this latest version is designed to penalize “thin” or poor content from ranking well. 

Basically, Danny’s position is that if you had been penalized by Panda in the past (and have taken steps to address the content issues with your website), you may see an increase in your organic search traffic. On the other hand, if you’re seeing a sudden drop in your traffic, it’s very possible that you were hit.

Danny goes on to quote Pierre Far, (a Webmaster Trends Analyst Google UK), from one of his Google+ posts:

Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.

That one Google+ post served as an announcement to the SEO community of this update.

The Good News & Bad News About Panda 4.1

In his article Your Guide to Google’s Panda 4.1 Algorithm on HuffingtonPost.com, Jayson DeMers (founder & CEO of AudienceBloom.com) first gives us a brief introduction to the history behind the Panda algorithm. Then, he gives us the good news and bad news which basically comes down to – some of us will be hit by this algorithm and others won’t.

Note: Doesn’t it always come down to this after Google updates one of their algorithms or (even worse) hits us with a manual web spam action?

Jayson goes on to answer  the question “Which sites were hit?” by saying:

On the other hand, the sites that have been hit hardest so far appear to be lyric sites, gaming sites, and some medical content sites. Put bluntly, these sites tend to have thin, repeated, or aggregated content–which to Google, translates to unoriginal or low-quality work.

The Key Elements of Quality Content

In his “Your Guide to Google’s Panda 4.1 Algorithm post, Jayson linked to another of his articles called The 12 Essential Elements Of High-Quality Content (which was published on Forbes.com.) This post is a must read if you’re looking for tips on improving the quality of your site content.

You really should check out this one for yourself but I will share with you the twelve key points on Jayson’s checklist:

  1. Content Length
  2. Embedded Video, Infographics & Other Media
  3. Grammar & Spelling
  4. Page and Text Formatting
  5. Your Readability Score
  6. Authoritative Content
  7. The Credibility & Reputation (of Guest Authors)
  8. Social Signals
  9. Internal & External Links
  10. Domain Quality
  11. Comment Quality
  12. Value (solves a problem, entertains, etc.)

Trust me, this article is so packed with information that you’ll want to bookmark this one for reading later.

Google’s Leaked Quality Rater Guidelines

Okay. I’m turning into a big Jayson DeMers fan here. While researching my article, I just kept following one link to another (which is usually what happens when I write this #FridayFinds series). If you followed the link above to Jayson’s post about high-quality content, you would have seen this infographic (10 Hidden Gems From Google’s Leaked Quality Rater Guidelines) but in case you didn’t: (besides it’s a chance for me to embed a valuable infographic)

10 Hidden Gems from Google’s Leaked Quality Rater Guidelines [INFOGRAPHIC]
Via: AudienceBloom.com

Google Panda 4.1 and Link Building

Since this algorithm was intended to target quality content, lets take a look at how link building will be affected by it. In his article 5 Crucial Link Building Strategies After Google Panda 4.1 on ProBlogger.net, Rizvan Ullah, (the founder of Ranktactics), talks about how people continue to attempt to manipulate the search results. One of the most common black hat techniques is deceptive link building and Panda was engineered to detect link building schemes that manipulated the results. According to Rizvan:

Going forward you can rest assure that Google will continue to tweak their search algorithm to perform better providing more “high” quality results. I’ve always been a strong believer that the success of your website and/or blog has to do with providing “high” quality resources to your readers and using authentic link building techniques.

If you’ve ever worried about your link building strategy (or don’t even have one yet), you’ll want to read Rizvan’s post. In it, he shares five link building techniques that provide high quality content without risking being penalized by Google.

As always, I encourage you to read the original article but I’ve highlighted his five bullet points here (to pique your interest):

#1) Google Ranking Criteria

Here, Rizvan talks about the three criteria that were in the original Panda 1.0 but are still relevant today:

  • Eliminate links to low quality content.
  • Eliminate links to sites with “thin” content pages.
  • Eliminate links to sites that distribute duplicate content.

#2) Diversity In “Everything” Is Good

Rizvan goes on to share three methods that have been proven to drive traffic.

  • Guest Posting
  • Article Directories
  • High Quality Content (Do you know what an LSI keyword is?)

#3) The Importance of Relevance

Linking to authoritative sites is still important but now Google is paying close attention to how relative that content is.

#4) Anchor & Related Keywords

Here, Rizvan talks about Google using latent semantic indexing to relate phrases. He also shares his tips on mixing keyword phrases into your content.

Tip: For those of you who are unsure what Google semantics is and how it works, last month, Jeannette Paladino wrote an excellent guest post for me: Are You Confused by Google Semantics? SEO Tips You Need. In that post Jeannette also explains structured data markup and rich snippets.

#5) Don’t Follow Your Competitors

Just because your competitors have a linking strategy, it doesn’t mean that it’s effective. It’s quite possible that they haven’t adapted to the latest algorithm changes. Following them could actually end up hurting you in the long run.

FTI: This is just my opinion, but I found this 5th tip to be the most enlightening. Rizvan gives us actionable steps. Additionally, he shares his views on PBNs (private blog networks).

Over To You:

What are your thoughts? Have you noticed any significant changes in your organic search traffic recently? Do you think Google Panda 4.1 hurt, helped or had no impact? Has any of the information here made you think differently about your current SEO strategy? Please let us know what you think in the comments. We’d all like to know.

You can follow this week’s featured authors here: Danny Sullivan, Pierre Far, Jayson DeMers, Rizvan Ullah and Jeannette Paladino.

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Author: Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

49 thoughts on “Did You Know Google Panda 4.1 Rewards Quality Content? #FridayFinds”

  1. Google indeed reward quality content and I can testify my personal experience.
    It does it by measuring the time a user spends on the page, the number of times the user exited the post and search for the same exact search in google. User factor will be more and more dominant factor in Google SERP.
    I have a few sites with a few back links only, that are ranked on top of google, by content only.

  2. Hi Ginna,

    First, I’d like to apologize for not replying in a timely fashion. I try my best to keep up with the comments on my blog but yours slipped by me.

    Why do you feel that new blogs are harmed by the latest Google Panda algorithm update? If anyone is losing website traffic site, there may be toher underlying factors behind it.

    One risk factor that some bloggers may not be aware of is the fact that Google is now paying attention to comments. Comments that are left for us can be deemed as spammy and that in turn reflects poorly on us.

    New bloggers are more apt to accept comments that are generic than more experienced bloggers. That’s a fact. I’ve been there myself (as most of us have). When I started out, I wanted comments . . . any comments and I let a few questionable ones slip by me. The SEO landscape has changed now and Google is much less forgiving.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment and again I apologize for not getting back to you sooner.
    Sherryl Perry recently posted..People Will Buy From You When They Understand What Business You’re Really In!My Profile

    1. Doreen,

      Thanks so much for the kind words. It’s always helpful to know which topics resonate the most with my readers. The main reason I tackle topics like SEO is that it’s important to bloggers of all niches but they can be overwhelming and it doesn’t need to be.

      As always, thanks for dropping by! I hope you’re having a great week.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..People Will Buy From You When They Understand What Business You’re Really In!My Profile

  3. Definitely a nice post Sherryl.

    But I slightly disagree when you say, do not follow your competitors.

    Yes, doing everything that the competitors are doing superstitiously can be harmful. As there is no guarantee that they are doing it right. But at the same time, it is important to keep an eye on their activities so that you may know what do you need to do to beat them.

    Ratan Jha recently posted..Pretty Little Secrets to decrease costs on your AdWords spendsMy Profile

    1. Hi Ratan,

      First, I want to apologize for not replying to your comment. Somehow, it just got by me.

      The “Don’t Follow Your Competitors” came from Jason Demers’ infographic (which was from the post “10 Hidden Gems From Google’s Leaked Quality Rater Guidelines”

      I understand what you’re saying though. Thanks for weighing in on this.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..People Will Buy From You When They Understand What Business You’re Really In!My Profile

  4. Hi Sherryl,

    Google is a tricky monster. It can be very frustrating to try to do everything to Google’s liking and then still be punished for it. That being said, there were some great points made in this post.

    One thing I really do agree with is updating old content that’s become outdated. I can definitely see how that can cause damage to your credibility … yet some people would say, I rather just write another topic and link to that.

    Regardless of all that, I can’t and won’t focus on pleasing Google. It’s just impossible to please because it’s forever changing. But I will take the great research you presented here into consideration and make some minor adjustments.

    Great post once again, Sherryl.

    – Andrew
    Andrew recently posted..What Happens To Your Blog When You Die? A Very SERIOUS Question … And Discussion.My Profile

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Google is a “tricky monster”. 🙂

      I felt really badly for so many bloggers who were punished by the manual webspam actions earlier this year.Seeing so many legitimate bloggers de-indexed seemed like a drastic measure to many of us. I’m sure some bloggers haven’t recovered yet and others abandoned their blogs completely.

      While updating old content can be a time consuming project, sometimes, it can be very worthwhile. I find myself brushing up old content when I suddenly see traffic on an old post. One quick way to update an old post is to find new relevant resources (on authoritative sites) and link to them. It’s also an opportunity to add internal links to newer articles that we’ve written.

      Thanks for letting me know that you found my post helpful. While we don’t want to write for Google, having an understanding (and awareness) of what’s going on in SEO can help keep us out of trouble and (if we’re lucky) benefit us by sending some free organic traffic our way. As always, it’s great to see you here.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Do You Comment for Backlinks on DoFollow Enabled CommentLuv Blogs?My Profile

  5. I really try not to overly concern myself with Google. But instead focus on writing good quality content, using my own images, having relevant guest posts, etc. In other words focus on what I’m doing and what I can control. 🙂

    1. Hi Susan,

      Quality content is definitely important and you know I’m a fan of your blog and your original images. Having said that, I learned the hard way how important it is to monitor both incoming and outgoing links too. (It’s been about a year and a half now since I lost nearly half my organic search traffic but that’s a lesson I learned from that experience.) Having said that, it’s time I did another checkup of the links on my site and time to visit Webmaster tools and look for sites linking to me.

      As always, it’s great to see you here! Thanks for joining the conversation.

  6. Hey sherryl,

    Very well written article and love to read your infographic. Glad to know about Google panda As how they can reward quality contents. It means now with having backlinks Quality content also play vital role to get quick top rank in search engine and more exposure.

    You’ve well summed all the necessary steps in this infographic too that’s very good to read. I’ve also shared related infographics on my blog too.

    I just have found your blog. Plus it’s my first visit here.

    Mustafa Gaziani recently posted..The Ultimate Guide to Get More Social Shares on Post #InfographicMy Profile

    1. Hi Mustafa

      Welcome to my blog! I’m glad you found me and I’m happy that you’re already joining the conversation. 🙂

      My website traffic has been steadily increasing since I started tweaking my strategy for my #FridayFinds series. (Basically, I started tackling one topic per article as opposed to doing a typical roundup.)

      What’s interesting to note is that I’ve been blogging less often. At the same time, I’m been writing longer posts with more links to authoritative websites. So far, it’s a strategy that has been working.

      I believe Google is finally starting to reward quality. Now, let’s see what impact the Penguin 3.0 update will have.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Can You Influence Consumers by Using Neuromarketing Techniques? #FridayFindsMy Profile

  7. Sure there are people who got frustrated with this update but with every update Google search engine is getting better (it’s still not perfect). Quality is what matters the most and that’s how it needs to be.

    1. Hi Lewis,

      I think our frustration may be (at least) partly related to not understanding what we should and should not be doing until it’s too late. On the surface, it appears that often the sites that should be penalized aren’t while other sites get whacked.

      I think Google’s intentions are good. It’s just the execution often seems flawed. (The manual web spam actions earlier this year come to mind.)

      Word is out that the Penguin 3.0 update was rolled out on Friday. We’ll have to wait and see what they’ve done this time.

      Thanks for joining the conversation.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Google Manual Web Spam Actions and Penalties #FridayFindsMy Profile

  8. Sherryl it is fascinating to see the changes over a long period and how things we talked about two years ago are coming back around to sit and stay awhile.

    You would have enjoyed the presentation I participated in at HIMA ( Houston Interactive Marketing Association) conference yesterday where we had Mike King @Ipullrank. He was brilliant and reached the audience with a fun style of speaking.

    Who have you discovered beyond the Danny Sullivans that others might not know about like Mike? (BTW as a funny note, I just had Jay Steinfeld as a guest for #StartupGrindHOU and he used Danny when no one knew who he was for Blinds.com, now they are worth more than millions if you google their buy with Home Depot this year)

  9. Hi Sherryl

    The most comprehensive post related to Google Panda requirements and rewards.

    I would discuss here about various possible adds-on in a blog post.

    It is widely advised to create a post with variety of medium including text, videos, images and inforgraphics.

    It is right but they should not be just another add-on because it is very likely a new update may also hit the posts with low quality insertions because it is being practiced by many that they just shoot a one minute video and embed it with their post.

    Sooner or later quality check will also be done in this area so it is better to focus quality from now.

    Thanks a lot for this very informative post focusing both problem and its multiple solutions as well.

    1. Hi Mi,

      It is advisable to use other mediums such as videos, images and infographics but you’re absolutely right that they have to be relevant and add value to the article. Our readers deserve that and Google now includes that in their algorithms.

      I’m glad you found my post informative. Thanks so much for dropping by and joining the conversation. It’s always good to see you here.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Google Website Signals SERPs and Title Tags #FridayFindsMy Profile

  10. A great article, thanks for sharing Sherryl. Thin content and quality content are very subjective, and I’ve advised my clients for the last few years that 300 word articles are not going to make the grade, not matter how perfect the grammar is. A good article cites resources and references others and thin content rarely does that, if at all. A lot of useful information, and I’m going to explore Rich Text Snippets etc again to see how it can work better for me.
    Sarah Arrow recently posted..3 ways to supercharge your bloggingMy Profile

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I agree with you. 300 word articles may have been okay years ago when there was so much less competition for traffic but nowadays we expect to find more in-depth resources. It’s also difficult to be creative and not just regurgitate info in that few words. As you say, a good article cites resources and references other work.

      I think you’ll find Jeannette’s article insightful. She did a lot of research and has shared some good sources on both structured data markup and rich snippets.

      Thanks so much for dropping by and adding to the conversation.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Can You Influence Consumers by Using Neuromarketing Techniques? #FridayFindsMy Profile

  11. another awesome article. Yes Google always rewards and awards content with quality and purity and this is why its the popular search engine.

    Thanks for sharing such a nice information, Keep up with the web 😉

  12. Hi Sherryl,

    I think thin content was a biggie. I posted plenty of 2500 to 3000 word posts to my blog, to avoid any Google hits in the future although I don’t write for the Big G, I writer for my readers. I do add in a few shorter, roundup type, image of the day post for my travel bloggers each week which come in at 700 words. Each post is link heavy, engaging, and will receive more than a fair share of comments which add to the overall content store of the page.

    I think being thorough throughout your blog, for its full body of work, will not only help your online business but it’ll also help you avoid Google’s smackdown in the future. There’s a common sense type element to what they do. If you create something worthy, and target it appropriately, you’ll likely work your way up the results, a page at a time.

    Thanks Sherryl! Tweeting from Fiji.

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..Paradise Picture Friday: Photo of the DayMy Profile

    1. Hi Ryan,

      “Tweeting from Fiji” – I love that! It serves as a reminder to me that I haven’t read your “Blogging from Paradise” eBook yet. (I did download the latest version. Thanks for that.)

      I need to find a way to blog 700 word posts. I’ve been thinking of launching a new site or two that would lend themselves to that sort of content – sort of like your posts geared to travel bloggers.

      As always, thanks for dropping by. It’s always refreshing to hear from you. (BTW – It’s been a while since I’ve dropped by your site but I’ve been dealing with a lot of “stuff” lately. You’ll see me soon!)

  13. I haven’t noticed any changes in Google Analytics after this update. In the past if I looked at Fruitition stats it seems they report one update is up and the next down. Kind of back and forth, but I don’t see anything noticeable in Analytics.

    I am a little more concerned with Penguin than Panda. You have a bit more control over Panda and your content on your own site. Since Penguin tends to be more about backlinks, which I have less control over, and it’s a real pain not only finding and checking them, but monitoring them as well. I don’t have a lot of time for that kind of thing anymore.

    I do see a few sites out there that post really short articles I mean like 100-250 words at most, and they seem to do OK, but others lose on the deal.
    Ray recently posted..Did Google Forget About Penguin?My Profile

    1. Hi Ray,

      I haven’t noticed any changes in my organic search either. It’s been quite a while since I checked Fruition. (I’m still upset that they no longer allow us to access the most recent three months of data.)

      So, I just checked and according to them, the two updates in June both (potentially) had a negative impact on my site. Honestly, I didn’t notice that in GA and I don’t have the time or desire to go back now and verify if it did or didn’t.

      Regardless, taking the Fruition data at face-value, the probability of the PayDay Loan 3.0 algorithm having a negative impact on my site was 65.7% and the probability of Google removing Authorship pictures was 80.8%. Fruition’s reasoning is that the “PayDay Loan update 3.0 specifically targets spammy queries” and “if you had strong authorship profiles you will see a reduced click through rate”.

      Well . . .what about my site could appear spammy and wasn’t Google’s authorship changes not supposed to hurt us? (I’ve been thinking about doing a #FridayFinds on authorship, maybe it’s time.)

      Backlinks are always on the back of my mind and actually, I need to do another deep clean-out. Remember when I lost a significant amount of traffic a couple of years ago? I believe that was all do to broken links and links to domains that did not contain the original content. Oh . . . and domains that were parked at registrars and were riddled with “Google” AdSense ads. So, I really can’t afford to ignore them.

      I hear you about the sites with low content! How do they do okay? It’s tempting to try churning out a few sites like those. Honestly, my plan now is to just try my best to not get on Google’s bad side (by paying attention to what the SEO gurus are recommending) and write for my readers. That’s it.

      Thanks for dropping by and joining in Ray. Your comments always get me thinking!
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..How Do You Know Which Bad Links Caused Your Google Penalty?My Profile

  14. Hi Sherryl,

    What a fantastic article. I love your research and the infographic is really helpful!!!

    I have been in web design and development for over ten years and I personally happy to see where Google is going with all of this. It’s about time they weeded out sites that don’t say anything, mean anything or really help anyone.

    Since 2012 when they launched the first Panda update, I watched as friends who owned SEO companies went into panic mode the morning they woke up and business owners were calling wanting to know where their traffic went.

    I decided then and there that I was going to focus on the principles of what makes for a great web presence instead of focusing on SEO.

    Networking online the right way will ultimately build a great SEO environment for any company. The problem is it can take six months to a year and so it’s slow and methodical, yet not seo intentional.

    Writing great content that has context (content by itself is meaningless if it doesn’t relate to the reader), including links to others that are high quality and their content expands on yours in same way, and engaging through comments and social media is a winning recipe.

    Of course there is more, but when reciprocity kicks in you can create an organic community to build your traffic, relationships, and SEO so that when Google makes changes you don’t have to.

    There are likely better and faster ways to do it, but personally I’m not going to keep chasing Google and spending money on something tomorrow that will not work anymore and my investment is gone.

    Nope, I’m going to build my investment in people, be proactive; and allow Google to be reactive to what I’m doing.

    I loved this post Sherryl!!!! Thank you so much for the hard work and research you put into it. I will be checking out each link to learn more.

    I hope you have an awesome weekend!!!

    ~ Don Purdum
    Don Purdum recently posted..Are You Marketing in the Year We Actually Live In? 3 Reasons Your Struggling to Earn New Business – Even if You Don’t Know ItMy Profile

    1. Hi Don,

      Google has been saying for a while that they were going after the “bad” guys but I have to admit I lost faith in their intentions earlier this year when they whacked all those innocent bloggers with manual web spam actions.

      Sure, some bloggers had become lax in their linking strategies and should have been cleaning them up. However, (IMHO), Google was too aggressive. Whatever algorithms they were using, too many bloggers got caught in their net while we were all still dealing with massive amounts of spammers trying to leave links on our blogs. So, I’m happy too that Google is working toward rewarding quality content.

      SEO is great for getting people to your website but most of those visitors don’t stay or return. (My bounce rate in Google Analytics confirms that.) Worse yet, we’re at the mercy of Google and could lose that traffic at any moment.

      I think your winning recipe is on the money (and for once, I have nothing to add). 🙂

      I’m glad you found my article helpful. The infographic is great and Audience Bloom made it so easy to embed it. Sometimes it can be so frustrating to come upon a useful infographic and then not be able to use it. I don’t think some bloggers realize the traffic that they’re missing out on.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your insight with us. I’m sure other readers will find your comment valuable. (If you’re ever interested in being a guest blogger here, just let me know.)

      Have a great weekend!
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Did You Know Google Panda 4.1 Rewards Quality Content? #FridayFindsMy Profile

  15. Oh – also happy to see Article Directories as a plus. I’ve had a listing of key articles for some time. Helps me find links when writing and helps readers find more on specific subjects.

    And happily, with List Category Posts plugin, you can set up a Page with a set of sub-category shortcodes. Then when you’re writing a key article, check the sub-category and it will be added to your articles page automatically. Simple.
    David FB recently posted..Kiva MicroloansMy Profile

    1. Hi David,

      How have you been? It’s great to see you here. I’ll have to check out that plugin. One of these days, I’m going to get around to rebuilding this site on a new theme. Until then, I don’t want to mess around with any more plugins. I just run into too many unexpected conflicts.

      I hope you have a nice weekend.

  16. Hey Sherryl,

    Alliteratively speaking, your #FridayFinds are fantastically phenomenal! (Maybe I should take a nap?)

    Seriously, the Panda updates (and the rest of the Zoo) tie us up in knots, much like tongue-twisters. Fortunately, you take the time to understand what the updates mean and how they apply to everyday business blogging. This particular article — and the further readings — are refreshingly down-to-earth.

    I followed your trail and read The 12 Essentials and 5 Crucial Link Building Strategies. Again, sensible, actionable advice. I can really appreciate the research you put into this!

    1. LOL Vernessa. Thanks for the alliteration. 🙂

      The rest of the zoo . . . Sometimes, I don’t know when to stop. I almost included a couple of articles about Penguin and then . . . well, when do you stop? I thought I would just set those aside for my next post in this series.

      Thanks for your feedback. You know I value it. A lot of research does go into these but SEO is a topic that resonates with me and I like knowing that people are finding it valuable. I figure that the way I lay it out, it can be somewhat digestable – like a smorgasbord of sorts. Follow the links that interest you and if you have time later come back for another bite. (Now, who needs a nap?)

      I hope you have a great weekend!

  17. Sherryl —

    I intend to read all these articles. Panda should reward you for such robust content! Thanks for the shout-out, too. Defining “quality content” to me is the most difficult criteria to meet. Sure, it’s easy to rate low quality content with misspellings, misstatements of fact, and awkward phrasing. But quality content also implies originality. In fact, most of what we write is derivative and there is truth to the statement, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

    We link to other people’s content — already written. We quote authorities in our posts. All valid, according to Google. So how do we determine when we’ve crossed the line to just becoming copy-cats?

    I don’t have the answer and I’m not sure anyone does which is why it’s shocking and frustrating when all of a sudden you get pounded by Google. To answer your question, my traffic has remained steady and grown over the past year (not tons but I’m happy with it). But I’m always waiting for the other shoe to fall when I look at my analytics.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted..Why Do You Write?My Profile

    1. Thanks Jeannette. So far, so good as far as traffic and shares on this series. It took me a while to get the swing of things (mainly to focus on one topic only) but I think I’ve got it down now. 🙂

      I really enjoy researching SEO because it’s something that can drive a lot of traffic to our sites. Sure, direct and referral traffic is better but organic is free and I honestly don’t spend much time intentionally optimizing my posts. What I do is totally gear my writing to humans. Now that Google is paying attention to quality and semantics, I find SEO even more valuable.

      One of the articles I linked to mentioned linking to authoritative posts but the author also pointed out that we have to be cautious of sites that are loaded with content but only have a few really in-depth authoritative articles. (Sort of a bait and switch deal to me.) I believe he also went on to talk about bloggers who buy existing domains with content and then riddle it with nonsense (my words). That devalues the authority of the quality content.

      I’m confident that what I do here, curating quality content is a safe route to go. I’m linking to authoritative sites plus I’m adding my own insight and write my own content around it. (The problem is that these are very time consuming to research and write.)

      I follow your blog Jeannette and I honestly think your site is authoritative and there’s nothing copy cat about it.

      Thanks for weighing in on this. You always add valuable insight and it’s it great to hear from you. Have a nice weekend!
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Did You Know Google Panda 4.1 Rewards Quality Content? #FridayFindsMy Profile

    2. Jeannette

      Sherryl gives the example of lyrics sites. There are similarly quite a few tech sites that are basically duplicates of other sites. Its actually become pretty annoying when searching and you discover you’re finding the same thing over and over again. It’s a big reason you want to take your old site down or forward it if you migrate – otherwise the new site will be seen as copied.

      On the other hand, if you write a short article about someone elses work, linking to it, or write something quality as Sherryl has done, you have no worries. It is useful to state things or summarize them in different ways. It’s not useful to find direct copies. It’s the last they’re trying to weed out.

      Myself, I do OK with the 12 listed. In many ways it’s obvious – provide value. My search results have been gradually climbing. No real change with the new version yet.
      David FB recently posted..Do Not SearchMy Profile

        1. Hi Jeanette
          If you refresh your web site with a new theme/ design with the same content, no problem. The addressing is all the same, etc.

          But if you take all your content from one site and copy it to another site (or host), you then have 2 sites with the same content. Google has had a tendency to see the new site as a copy of the old (because it is) and not index it. Thus, when I do a site migration, I make a choice:

          1 – delete the old site after the domain has migrated.
          2 – forward the old site automatically. (this forwards your old search hits too)
          3 – go into all the old site pages and manually forward them to the new ones. (only practical for a small site)

          This choice is also somewhat dependent on if there is any changes in domain or site structure too. Ideally, your new site is structured the same as your old (same permalink structure too) so auto forwarding is straightforward.

          Keep in mind that search engine spiders operate in IP world because thats how web servers are configured. Unless instructed otherwise, they’ll find and index content even if it has no domain pointing at it. That’s why you’ll sometimes find search results on obscure things pointing at IP addresses rather than domains. Moving your domain still leaves the old content online from a search engines perspective.
          David FB recently posted..Troubles in the CASLMy Profile

          1. Wow David! I missed this entire conversation between you and Jeannette. Thanks for the details on what happens when we recreate our site on another host.

            I plan on redesigning my site on a new host and then migrating the content. What I have done in the past is change the DNS records. Then, I wait a few days for the servers to populate before I delete the content off the original server and then cancel that plan. What should I be doing?

            1. Hi Sherryl
              That’s exactly it. It rarely takes that long for DNS servers to update nowadays. You can follow the propagation on sites like this:

              What happens too often is people leave the old site behind, assuming the host will delete it. But they may not for awhile. Or they leave it as an intentional backup. Or whatever. Not a good idea.

              The other thing people run into now is that so much of a blogs functionality is interconnected. So you can’t always move the domain last, if you want to test and configure some of the functionality.

              I used the Ultimate Coming Soon Page plugin, with a link back to the old site during the few days of transition.
              David FB recently posted..Social Media – Bane or Blessing?My Profile

  18. This is such a helpful post Sherryl. and especially the link to quality content. I’ve been wondering what all the fuss about Panda 4.1 has been, but this is a really great practical guide for people to improve their posts and sites in general. Much appreciated.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted..#Muse media #Annie Proulx on LoveMy Profile

    1. Hi A.K.,

      I’m so glad you found my post helpful. I couldn’t believe how many posts there are on Panda 4.1. I really believe that the ones that I selected pretty much cover the topic. There’s a lot of links in those articles too!

      It’s not like we all need to become experts on this topic but it is good to know what’s going on. I’ve been seeing some nice increases in my direct and referral traffic (while my organic search is holding steady). I believe a lot of it is coming from this series. The way I look at it is that even if the traffic comes from social, someone found it in the first place. So, SEO is important.

      Thanks for being the first to comment. I hope you have a great weekend!
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Security on My Mind: How To Successfully Evaluate and Protect Your Online Technology AssetsMy Profile

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