Google Panda: Why you need to invest in quality content

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Last updated: March 2023
As one of the leading content marketing agencies in Bristol, we’re forever championing the need to regularly produce quality content in order to extend your reach and win custom. If you’re serious about gaining traction online and getting noticed by the right people, you’d better take notice when Google change the way they do things, and the introduction of the Panda algorithm in 2011 was arguably one of the biggest milestones in Internet history.

Essentially, Panda weighs up the quality of your content when deciding where to rank your website in the SERPs, meaning those with fantastic resources will naturally rise to the top of the table. In the past, it had been relatively easy for low quality ‘content farms’ – sites built to answer specific search queries with very short (and often ill-informed) answers – to rank highly.

They were savvy at manipulating the system to target multiple pages with popular phrases, generating lots of pageviews (and ad revenue) as a result, despite essentially being clickbait that served very little purpose or added any genuine value to the Internet at large.

As we’ve alluded to many times in our other guides and SEO tool reviews, Google is on a quest to deliver the very best user experience to cement itself as the first port of call for online search, so it rattled them to see search results manipulated in this way. Thus, Panda was born to sort the wheat from the chaff, filtering out poor-quality sites in favour of those offering something more substantial.

Here’s why and how you should pander to Panda if you want to get ahead:

The Panda algorithm: What to bear in mind

While Google are certainly looking to stamp out ‘thin’ content, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a magic word count to strictly adhere to. Needless to say, if you want your web page to perform well, allowing room for natural variations of keywords and phrases without stuffing them in, there’s a good argument for writing longer content.

However, it’s crucial that you don’t wind up writing for the sake of it, sacrificing quality as you waffle on regardless. Ultimately, a good quality resource is only as long as it needs to be, answering the question as efficiently and completely as possible.

For our website copywriting clients, we generally recommend service pages to be between 300-600 words long – giving you sufficient room to sell yourself without boring the pants off potential customers who want to see what you’re all about.

When it comes to blogs and guest posts, however, comprehensive research from BuzzSumo and Moz, which analysed one million articles, states:

Long form content of over 1,000 words consistently receives more shares and links than shorter form content.

So, although these aren’t official Google guidelines, it’s safe to say that’s a pretty decent rule of thumb, which is why we’re strong advocates in producing premium content that actually ‘says’ something. It’s much more rewarding to read an article that goes in deep on one topic and offers practical advice, and this can only really be achieved if you’re prepared to publish weighty material that has a chance to say something meaningful.

If you’re writing articles inspired by search queries, think about the user and write to match their needs. You can be succinct and economical with language, just make sure you answer their question fully and be sure you add value to the wider conversation.

Panda-monium for spammers

If you allow user-generated content on your site, i.e. guest articles, it’s crucial that you vet them for quality. If you don’t have editorial oversight on the content you allow to be published, you could be setting yourself up for trouble, as low-quality content will see you downgraded.

As mentioned above, you have to be satisfied that the content on your site is to a high standard, with accurate grammar and a genuine purpose, delivering a non-advertorial message that’s relevant to your audience. If this isn’t the case and you allow spammy posts with sales-driven links, your site will suffer.

It’s also imperative to check guest articles are unique and exclusive to your site, rather than something that’s been copied and pasted across the web, otherwise you’ll be hit with a Google penalty that pulls you down. We recommend using Grammarly to ensure your web pages are word perfect, and Copyscape to steer clear of duplicate content issues.

We’re big believers in the powers of outreach marketing, but only when you do it properly.

Paws for thought

If your analytics show that people are landing on your page for an unexpected search query, you might be able to add a couple of paragraphs to ensure you directly meet those users’ intent – giving you a boost in the rankings, which may also result in your entry appearing in the ‘featured snippet’ result at the top of search pages.

Likewise, if analytics shows certain pages aren’t getting any traffic, that’s a clear signal that the quality simply isn’t up to scratch. Try reading our guide to researching a blog post to see if you can pick up any handy tips that may aid your content strategy.

It’s also worth bearing onsite optimisation principles in mind as, although Panda doesn’t directly take them into account, they still play a huge role in how well your website ranks and your resulting organic traffic.

Websites that fail to pass the quality test are now an endangered species when it comes to ranking highly, and the best way to make an impact is to commit to making your output the very best it can possibly be, ideally the go-to guide on whatever the subject matter is.

Don’t be over-ambitious and write an opus on the finer points of your business practices, but be sure to write content based on real-life search queries and answer them to the best of your ability.

Or you could leave the words to us. We’ve written thousands of articles covering numerous business niches, and Panda-friendly quality is our hallmark.

Don’t be bamboo-zled by the whole thing, talk to us to arrange your FREE Digital Health Check and SEO report.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, or would like to discuss a specific issue with your site, please get in touch using the form below.

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Magnus Linklater SEO Consultant

Author: Magnus Linklater

Magnus is an SEO specialist and online marketing professional with over 25 years of digital and traditional marketing experience.

As the founder of Bespoke Digital, Magnus has worked on technical site audits and content marketing campaigns for hundreds of clients and regularly writes about SEO strategy, tips & tricks.

Find Magnus on LinkedIn

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