Google Webmaster Central posted a blog entry yesterday informing the world at large of updates to Google Panda that potentially impact all English-language Google users. As part of the algorithm changes, the search engine incorporated new user feedback signals to help users achieve better search results. Specifically, as Amit Singhai writes on the Webmaster Blog, Google is “beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into our algorithms,” and they are also evaluating a site’s long-tails with more scrutiny than before.

What does this mean to you and your site? For starters, this punctuates the message Google has been sending out of late – most notoriously with the JC Penney SEO debacle – that their tolerance level for gaming and questionable SEO practices has become wire-thin. All signals point to the same principles: sites Google deems to have unique, quality content are going to be privileged over those that don’t. What differentiates a quality site from a non-quality one? Back in March, Mark Nunney posted his “Google Panda Update Survival Guide” on the Wordtracker blog, and much of what he had to say then still rings true. You can also check out Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to see where your site falls short.

And yet, if we’re putting all of our cards on the table, I think it’s reasonable to assume that a lot of sites that have unique, high-quality content are still going to find themselves pinched by this latest update, and that is truly a shame. For the decision-makers who run these sites, questions have to be asked and answered about the goals for the website and how to achieve them: revised site architecture, a brand awareness campaign or even increased user engagement (e.g., do you encourage user feedback or participate in blogs or forums?).

In short, these companies may just find after such soul-searching that they needn’t “fire everybody and start over,” but simply step back, evaluate things and develop a top-to-bottom web content strategy that incorporates best practices and maximizes unique content.

Joey Hall
EVG Content Marketing VP

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