‘Panda’ is the name that has been given to a particular algorithm that is periodically run by Google to give what is considered to be something like a ‘quality score’ to a website. This score is then used by the main ranking algorithm. Obviously, in order to rank highly, a website is going to want to score as high as possible on this hypothetical ‘quality score’. How do you do that?
The best way to do this is to think like Google. When Google was developing the Panda algorithm, it literally asked 100’s of human testers to answer a group of questions about 1000’s of what they considered good and bad websites. They then took the answers to those questions and tried to program that into what became the Panda algorithm. This means in order to build a Panda friendly site, you have to consider the questions that Google asked their human testers or raters and how your site stacks up to those questions. In this blog post Google listed questions that would have been what they asked their testers or pretty similar to the ones they would have asked:
- 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?
You need to take a long hard look at your site and does it match up to the criteria. You need to be objective. There is no point in arguing that your site matches up (if you are affected by Panda, then your site is giving signals that its low quality; regardless if it is or not, its giving the low quality signals) and there is no point arguing that Google got it wrong for your site (this is done by an algorithm and they will not make an exception for your site; you need to change the signals that your site is giving for the algorithm to read).
While many want to argue that their website has been treated unfairly, its not going to get them anywhere. Others might want to debate the quality of the search results since Google implemented this, it does not matter. Google’s testing tells them that the results are better. They will trust their data over a few random examples of search results that are not so good. It is the overall global results that Google is interested in and their data will guide them. Rather than argue, look at the signals that your website is sending and improve them.