Earlier this year, Google released its infamous ‘Panda’ (named after the engineer who came up with the idea) update which caused quite a stir amongst the English-speaking SEO community. After numerous subtle and not-so-subtle tweaks (we’re at version 2.4), Google has announced the roll-out of the latest iteration of the algorithm to all languages except for Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
Google’s post notes that approximately 6-9% of search queries will be impacted to a degree where a user might notice. This is significantly less than the 12% of queries that were affected by the first version of Panda and to me seems like a confession that the first iteration of the algorithm was a bit too aggressive. Google also notes that “Our scientific evaluation data show that this change improves our search quality across the board, and the response to Panda from users has been very positive.” So whilst tweaks can be expected, Panda will not be going away. As usual, Google’s stance is clear and vague at the same time. Clear in that it’s all about quality and user experience, vague in defining what constitutes a ‘quality’ page or site. “Those impacted should evaluate their sites objectively for quality and unique value,” as quoted by Vanessa Fox at Search Engine Land.
So what constitutes quality and value? Here are some pointers for those with foreign-language sites that have been affected by this new roll-out:
- Duplication: Does the site have multiple pages of content on the same topic? For example, having a page on ‘buy a computer’ and a nearly identical page on ‘purchase a computer’ reeks of low-quality content.
- Uniqueness: Is the content unique enough or is it primarily sourced from other sites (i.e. syndicated)?
- User-centric design: Your site should always feature a user-centric design. Can the user quickly and efficiently reach his or her goal? Be it information or a sales point, a user’s journey should not be hampered by pop-ups, excessive ads, etc. Ads are fine, just don’t make them too obtrusive.
- Depth: Do the content pages offer sufficient depth or is it shallow, obvious material of the type ‘a green widget is a widget in the colour green’? One way for Google to gauge this is to check how many links are going to the home page versus internal pages. If the home page receives a large amount of easy links, yet 500-odd internal pages receive next to no ‘link love’, this does not bode well for the quality of those pages.