Is Panda Crushing your Website

Did searchers complain when Google dropped low quality content in their Panda update? Or was it mostly owners of low quality websites who got body slammed by Google, no, they did not take to the streets in a popular uprising. In fact, most regular searchers have probably not noticed the difference.

But what about owners of websites who Google thinks delivers low quality content. I say “thinks”, as some quality sites were hit and some low quality sites untouched.

For example, do a search for “petrol engine” and result number 5 is a mobile phone company. Talktalk – who sent rather rude door to door salesmen to my house a while back so screw them – have decided to throw up a ton of low level content in the guise of encyclopedic knowledge.

Does Google mind?

Doesn’t seem to, after all they are ranking 5th for Petrol Engine. You would think Rolls Royce, Museum of Transport, Imperial College, even Animatedengines.com – check out their Wankle – would rank for “petrol engine”, but no, Google has decided that a mobile phone company should.

Yeah I know, they offer broadband as well, but that’s still nowhere near the German invention which changed the world. Who invented the Petrol Engine

I write about this to give you a quick example that low content crap can work for your website, you just have to do it a certain way.

Cyrus Shepard, writing for SEOmoz, has listed ‘Five deadly content sins’, which, if committed, will see your site penalised by Google’s Panda Update very quickly

On SeOMoZ, Cyrus Shepard wrote about Panda and the, “Five deadly content sins”, which may harm your website.

Brafton.com are reporting from SES San Francisco that

“The key to SEO in the post-Panda searchscape, say SES experts, is creating compelling content pages that site visitors will engage.”

Not sure if the “experts” have been searching for petrol engines recently. Of course, I am searching from Cornwall, UK. So using the Cornish search index which is heavily weighted to Cornish pasties. OK, maybe Google doesn’t have a “Cornish index” yet, I am using the UK bit of Google.

The evidence is clearly that you can put up low quality content and get away with it, you simply have to get Google to view you a certain way. What are these “SES experts” not telling us?

Search for “who invented the petrol engine” and you get an about.com page.

And what you get is utter garbage. You get a page where the actual information is less that a quarter of the page above the fold. The page is actually taken up by the notorious “tip of the belly” adverts. Which allegedly use fake news to promote their diet aid, the acai berry.

In fact some blogs are even calling the tip of the belly marketing technique as a blog scam.

Google seems to hate it when you use fake news to get links, but doesn’t see to mind when promoting sites like about.com which carry these adverts.

So, what can we learn from this?

Is Google really penalising low content sites or is it only certain sites, whilst others are untouched?

From the evidence, it seems the model about.com and Talktalk.co.uk are the kind of low level content sites you should be building.

It’s a shame that Google, once a highly ethical company seems to have no problem with sites who aggressively advertise dodgy diet adverts, in fact they give such sites authority and hold them as an example of quality.

The Bounce Factor

You search for something on Google, click through to it, don’t like what you see so you go back to Google and search again.

Google measures this, clicking the back button is the sign of a low quality site. Seems fair enough. But what if that low quality page has a killer advert for a diet aid. Wow, must click though and get some easy diet pill. And thus NO BACK BUTTON IS CLICKED

DUH!

Is it quality? No of course not. It’s an SEO trick – although I doubt as a trick it’s being talked about at San Francisco SES – negate the bounce rate by getting the searcher to click through to an offer they cannot refuse, or at least 10% – 17% cannot.

Quality content is a nonsense phrase. Because it’s relative, you need content that works. Quality content is beat by low level content constantly, at least from the POV of Google and that’s what we are talking about right? You simply have to look at the search results page to see this truth.

If we are talking about branding and marketing to specific segments of the market I would go for quality content all the time. But for SEO, for Google. Naaaaaah!

“They”, will tell you to go for quality content, but what you really should be going for is content that works and we see with our own own eyes the empirical evidence that clearly states you do not need to quality content to rank, you simply need to create pages of low quality content in specific ways.

Those of you who disagree, please note I am presenting the evidence and pointing to it, if you wish to present evidence of SERPS that present quality, interesting, useful content then please do.

Also, note that the searches done here are based in the UK and may look different to where you are sitting.

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Comments

  1. says

    It’s only a matter of time, I’m sure Google will be doing everything they can to tighten up their spam defence further still and I wouldn’t be surprised to see those sites serving dodgy/spam ads in a bid to deter users from ‘bouncing’ to be hit by a future algo update.

  2. says

    Great post.

    I understand about the dodgy ads pointing to “acai berry” rubbish. Can Google actually see this though? There would be *many* sites that would get penalised for publishing ads that point to shady stuff.

    The article in question is fairly large though and seems to cover a fair bit. About.com has been about for years – I’d be surprised if Panda would affect this site purely due to it’s size and reputation (even though Panda has seemed ruthless).

    I like your “SEO trick” point though – I never thought of that.

    Richard

  3. says

    I think you could take this slightly differently. When Google refer to content I think their definition is vastly different to that of most SEO’s/industry types.

    Content is everything on the page, could be a widget|article|image|video|product and maybe all that matters to Panda is the user stays engaged with that ‘content’ or page.

    Sadly Panda falls down for sites like news and fora and not so much for content farms (ironically) as you are far more likely to return to the search results from a news site or forum than you are from a content farm (unless it is really really bad).

  4. says

    Where does the 10-17% click through statistic come from?

    I highly doubt the CTR rate for such a scammy looking advert like the acai berry one gets a significantly better CTR than the average.

  5. Lyndon Antcliff says

    @ James Hind.

    Yes it is a scammy advert, but shock horror, being scammy does not effect its success.

    If an advert runs and runs for months and is on lots of sites it’s probably sucking in more cash than an Apple store on iPhone launch day +1

    That advert, based on the fact it has generated interest from the Feds must have been hugely successful.

    And it does something very simple, it gives people what they want.
    In fact, doesn’t all good marketing do that.

  6. Brian says

    I think google is on the decline as far as relevant search results. There are too many results from crappy sites like ehow, answers.com, and yahoo answers.