Google is always changing the rules. Webmasters and bloggers, who adapt regularly, can get a lot of free traffic from them. Let’s take a quick look.
After the Panda update in 2011, Amit Singhal of Google published new content guidelines for webmasters and bloggers, at Google’s Official Webmaster Central Blog. While Panda affected many sites adversely, it also helped many rank better.
While that list is extensive, 10 essential points stand out in my opinion. Try to keep these in mind when adding content to the web…
1. Is the information presented trustworthy?
There’s a reason this number one on the list. Trust is the key online. You can earn trust with great content and a respected platform such as WordPress. You can earn trust with the way you write, with proper grammar, lots of details, relevant facts, sharing both sides of an argument and more. Strive for believability in every bit of content you write and you’ll earn trust instantly.
2. Is the author an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more superficial?
I never agreed with experts who said that when monetizing a site with AdSense, you should be general and not give too many details. Their logic was that if you shared content that was “too good” your visitors would not click your ads. I would submit that the stronger the info the better and the more details the better. Knowing a topic well and sharing your knowledge without holding back gets you more traffic from search engines via more long-tail searches and better overall ranking!
3. Does the site/blog have replica, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with just slightly different keyword variations?
Duplicate content is tricky subject. Many people think Google punishes sites for duplicate content. Instead, pages with duplicate content simply do not rank as well, especially post panda. With this statement Google is basically telling webmasters and bloggers not to try and game the system by rehashing content, and to instead publish fresh, unique content on a variety of subjects related to the core topic. That takes more work but enhances the experience of searchers.
4. Are there spelling, stylistic, or factual errors in the article?
This is easy enough. Verify everything before you publish it. Write in a tone that is easy to follow. Edit everything before you publish it. If you take time to do this your pages will usually outrank poorly written content on the same topic.
5. Does the author provide original content and information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
This one is a little trickier. Original content should be no problem, but the sources where you get your ideas, i.e. other websites and blogs, can pose a threat to true originality. Analysis is often closer to opinion however, and it seems Google does want webmaster and bloggers to share their opinions in addition to simply reporting facts. Think of some of the top blogs you read and you may find that it is really the style the writer uses. This can be challenging to adapt but over time it gets easier.
6. Does the page provide significant value when compared to other pages in search results?
This is an easy one. If you’re slapping up short blog posts that are vague and general in nature, you’ll likely get outranked by others who go into more detail on the same topic. People visit sites and blogs for information on a subject of interest. If they have to search through 5 pages at 5 different sites to get their answers, those pages can easily be outranked by a site that shares all that same info on a single page.
7. Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of authors, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
This one really irritated a lot of webmasters who share large amounts of useful content created by multiple users. Personally, I do not feel they should be penalized for outsourcing their content, however I do understand that Google is trying to make the search experience better by giving preference to webmasters and bloggers who are passionate about their subject and give every page personal attention. While outsourcing content is certainly OK, personal attention to each web page or post needs to be a priority.
8. Was the article written and prepare for publication well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
It seems as though Google is finally cracking down on spun content that is sometimes impossible to read. That’s good news. Every piece of content you place on the web should be edited so that anyone can read it easily. If you’re spinning your articles to get more use from them, take time to manually rewrite sentences and paragraphs to add more content, and you’ll stand a better chance at getting more mileage from your content.
9. Would you want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend the page?
For bloggers in particularly, I think Amit left something out of this sentence. I think it should have read… Is this the sort of page you’d want to leave a comment on, bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend? In my experience, posts at my blogs that have user comments tend to move up in ranking and do better than posts with no comments. It could be because of the added length of content on the page when users comment, but one thing is for sure… content that people want to share does better, especially lately. With that in mind, try to make it easy for users to share your comments by offering a share link with all the common social networks. If you’re on WordPress, a free plug-in like Sociable will do the trick.
10. Are the articles short, trivial, or lacking in helpful information?
It seems to me that blog pages and posts with more than 700 words do better than blog posts with 400 words or less. Bear in mind, this is one person’s interpretation based on my own experience. Yours could differ.
Oh yes, in addition to these 10 points, Google has since revealed a few new insights into recent algorithm changes. One of the most significant in my opinion is the fact that they now factor in the “freshness” of content. That means that sites and blogs who regularly add fresh, original content stand a better chance at outranking sites that do not update regularly. So, if you’re experiencing some trouble with your Google rankings, it could likely more due to another recent algorithm change. As you may know, Google makes nearly 500 changes a year – sometimes more than one in a day. Most don’t have as big of an impact as Panda, but there is always the possibility that one will impact your site.
This week, Google revealed 21 previously unannounced changes that were made in December. Take a look at those if you haven’t yet.
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Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with Jerry on Google+.