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10 Exceptional Bloggers Answer The Question, “What Is Quality Content?”


Session: Shane Ketterman
Speaker: Where Did My Traffic Go? How To Create Compelling Content In A Post-Panda World

Some would say nothing has really changed over the past year in terms of quality content.  But I say it certainly has.  Some would also say that quality is quality and the rules remain about the same as always.  But since Google made major changes to their coveted search algorithm throughout this past year, known affectionately as Panda, I have seen a lot of changes in the organic search results and the way Google views your content when it comes to displaying it on that coveted “first page” of the search results.

Google’s Panda update, also called the “high-quality sites” update definitely had an impact on many sites out there in terms of their organic traffic from search.  Originally, it was targeted at sites known as content farms but on April 11th, 2011, it went even further.  On that date, Google rolled out the U.S. Version of it’s Panda update and people who were not running content farms (including myself) saw a major drop in traffic.

In the days that followed and even more recently, we now know that this new algorithm that Google is using has redefined not only the SEO field but had put a new face on what is considered ‘Quality Content’.  In order to determine what quality content is, Google needed to get better at making the determination and in order to do that, it starts off with human quality raters.  These are real people (not machines) who look at hundreds of websites.  As this is occurring, computers (using machine learning languages) are following along with the humans and mimicking them.

Once the computer running the Google search algorithm becomes as good as the human at rating the sites, then it is pushed out onto the Internet.  Also known affectionately as GoogleBot.  If you have Google Webmaster Tools installed (and you should) then you can see crawl rates and references to GoogleBot.  This is the algorithm.

In essence, the new way Google judges your site is from a human point of view.  If this sounds a bit like we are getting closer to singularity, then you aren’t alone. Ha!

So. What happens next is a series of judgement calls that I will be diving into during my talk on Friday, November 4th at 3:00pm , and I’m even going to dive into some very controversial findings that may surprise you. However, here are a few of the new content sins and following that are some responses from a few really well-known and respected bloggers I got when I asked the question, “What do you consider quality content?”

A Few Content Sins

1.  How much of your unique content is above the fold? If you bring up your site, take note of how much actual original content exists within your eye-level view.  This is important because it should be more content than, say, ads.  Also, if there is not a lot of original content above the fold, it can be considered duplicate content.  Here is a great free tool to check your own values.

2.  Trust and Design factor.  How trusted is your site?  Would you trade your credit card information for something on this site?  Would you tell others about the content because it is so amazingly written and unique?  Quality over quantity is at play here.  Also, how is the design of the site? Can you navigate easily? Is the design pleasing to the eyes? Derek Halpern talks a lot about this topic over on Social Triggers and this post he wrote about the headline test is an excellent example.

A few more questions that the algorithm may be seeking are whether this site’s articles are driven by genuine interest or whether it’s written for search engines; do the articles include insightful analysis; and if this were a book, would you bookmark these articles to come back read later?

3.  What is the ratio of ads on each page to the content displayed?  Having a greater ad ratio to content ratio is definitely one of the newer content sins.

4.  Does your site have a lot of affiliate links and auto generated content?  Google sees this as “machines” building your sites and not a real human.

I’ll definitely be presenting more of these at BlogWorld but suffice it to say, it’s a new world in terms of organic search traffic.  Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz says that for those sites out there that are suffering, it’s best to begin improving engagement metrics and start shifting from pure SEO to “web strategist” when thinking of search.

Ask The Bloggers

I asked 10 bloggers ( a lot of them speaking this year at BWELA) a simple question: “What do you consider quality content?” and here are some of the excellent answers:

Chris Garrett – ChrisG.com
“Quality Content is relevant to the audience, easy and interesting to understand, easy consume, and achieves the goals you had in mind for it.”

Tyler Tervooren – Advanced Riskology
“Quality content” has always been the same thing to me ever since I started reading in first grade.

#1: It’s useful and teaches me something I didn’t know before.
#2. It’s entertaining and makes me happy I read it.

Caleb Wojcik – Pocket Changed
“Quality Content is about putting in more effort than you need to when creating. Instead of stopping at the “good enough” stage, you keep at it until what you publish is pure gold.”

Chris C. Ducker – Virtual Business Lifestyle
“In my eyes, quality content is content that is simply jam-packed with MASSIVE value. Ideally, it should motivate, inspire and solve problems for the reader / viewer – and above and beyond everything else, it should change the way that people think about what you’re talking about in the content itself. I always try to make sure that when somebody is done digesting MY content, that they sit back for a minute, or two and then – take ACTION!”

Adam Baker – Man Vs. Debt
“Quality content is simple. Content that helps solve a specific need of a reader or customer in an unique method or style.”

David Risley – DavidRisley.com
“Does it help people accomplish something? I think that’s a pretty good gauge for quality content.”

Amy Parmenter – The Parm Farm
“Quality content is content that serves your audience.  So, what does your audience need?  If you can answer that question and deliver day after day – or even week after week – that’s quality content, and your readers will probably respond and engage accordingly.”

Pace Smith – The Connection Revolution
“Quality content is content that makes a difference in you — that leaves you more inspired or more informed than you were before you read it.”

Ben Eadie – Video Blog Basics
“This is very subjective in my eyes, a beauty is in the eye of the beholder instance. Quality content is content that informs, educates, entertains or any combination of these. Quality does not mean professional writing, does not mean perfect video it does not mean you need to spend a ton of money making the content. As long as it is one or more of the above points of informing, educating, or entertaining to your audience you have made quality content.

Lara Kulpa – LaraKulpa.com
“Quality content comes from the ability to think differently than everyone else. Just because mashable.com writes an article about how G+ users have increased 1297% since it opened up doesn’t mean you should write the same article. Now, if you wanted to write about it, you’d fare better than stating the facts if you compared it to the total number of Twitter followers that Lady Gaga got in her first month (by percentage). Or what the profit loss percentage has been of Company X over the last year. Think different, write different, stop rehashing what the big guys put out there and make it your own. That’s quality content.”

I’d like to thank all of the bloggers who participated and I’d like to ask you what you consider quality content and if that has changed within the last year as Google adjusts it’s algorithms?

Shane Ketterman shows people how to invest in their future selves by offering handcrafted work that helps them discover ways to live and work on their own terms, find their purpose, and live a better life without having to follow the typical templates. His work can be seen at http://www.rewirebusiness.com.

Which Sites Did the Latest Google Panda Update Hurt & Help?


Have you noticed a change in your blog stats? If you have, it could be due to Google’s latest Panda update – which is designed to help improve the quality of search results for users.

It’s always interesting to see which sites the updates hurt and which ones they help.

The latest data from Searchmetrics shows the sites that were hurt include prnewswire.com, consumeraffairs.com, as well as technology blog The Next Web.

Who received the most help after this Panda update? YouTube and Android.com – which are owned by Google – saw a 10% increase. Zappos and the Washington Post also saw some help after the update.

These latest updates are definitely raising some eyebrows when the top site to receive a jump in help was Google owned YouTube. But should this be questioned? Does the jump point to the significance of videos or do you feel Google is showing favoritism?

Another Google Panda Update Made Late Last Week


Have you noticed any changes in your blog traffic or rankings the last few days? I’ll be honest. I’ve been so busy I haven’t even checked my stats lately, but I am definitely about to after reading this latest news. I’m crossing my fingers it’s good news.

Google confirmed to Search Engine Land that they did indeed push out a small Google Panda update late last week. A Google spokesperson told them, “We’re continuing to iterate on our Panda algorithm as part of our commitment to returning high-quality sites to Google users. This most recent update is one of the roughly 500 changes we make to our ranking algorithms each year”.

Some webmasters have said that the changes in rankings was a positive one for them, which is always nice to hear after one of these updates.

Here are the Panda updates so far:

  • Panda Update 1.0: Feb. 24, 2011
  • Panda Update 2.0: April 11, 2011 (about 7 weeks later)
  • Panda Update 2.1: May 10, 2011 (about  4 weeks later)
  • Panda Update 2.2: June 16, 2011 (about 5 weeks later)
  • Panda Update 2.3: July 23, 2011 (about 5 weeks later)

So, it looks like about every month Google is pushing out a Panda update.

What does that means for us bloggers? Not much really, except keep pumping out good solid content and hope that if your site was hit badly one month, it might go up the next month. Or, you could try the little experiment HubPages has done with sub-domains.

Did you notice a drop in traffic or rankings and do you have any tips or tricks to share?

Will Sub-Domains Help You Recover from the Google Panda Update?


If you were one of the many people who’s sites were affected by the Google Panda update, most likely you are still trying to figure out how to bounce back. The update showed us one thing – that Google wants quality content, so those who have been hit are doing their best to give Google what they’re looking for.

Content is king, as we all know, but there might be some other tweaks you can make to help you climb back up the Google ladder. According to HubPages.com, it looks like they may have stumbled upon something that is helping make a difference.

HubPages.com was one of the largest sites hit by the Google Panda update. According to Paul Edmondson, it’s chief executive, after the update their web traffic dropped by 50%. That’s a huge drop, especially for a site which does have a lot of quality content.

So, what’s the secret? Sub-domains. You see, Google’s search engine had indexed some pages that were tied to “ww.hubpages.com” rather than “hubpages.com,” and they were ranking higher. Was this just a fluke of some sort? I don’t think so.

Edmondson sent an email to Google asking if sub-domains would make a difference in their rankings and he was told in an email that he might want to try them. They started implementing this in late June and here are the early results as reported by WSJ:

The HubPages subdomain testing began in late June and already has shown positive results. Edmondson’s own articles on HubPages, which saw a 50% drop in page views after Google’s Panda updates, have returned to pre-Panda levels in the first three weeks since he activated subdomains for himself and several other authors. The other authors saw significant, if not full, recoveries of Web traffic.

On Wednesday, HubPages.com began a full roll-out of sub-domains for its authors.

Were you hit by the Google Panda update and if so, are you willing to give sub-domains a try?

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