There have been four (count ‘em) Google algorithm updates in the two weeks.
That’s got to be a record.
- Panda algorithm update (September 27th): A large update, Panda targets low-quality content, spun content, content farms, etc.
- Exact Match Domain update (September 28th): Discounts the “boost” exact-match domains previously received in the search engines.
- Penguin update (October 5th): This was a smaller Penguin data refresh (not a change to the algorithm)
- Top Heavy update (October 9th): Thus update targets sites that have primarily ads with little to no content above the fold
The most devastating has been the Panda algorithim update. Many folks think they were effected by the EMD update the next day (because they have an EMD or a partial-match domain) but were actually decimated by the Panda update.
Panda’s focus is on serving high-quality content by penalizing and weeding out the low-quality stuff.
And the toughest thing I see in our community of publishers is believing that our own content *IS* quality…
Even though sometimes it’s not.
Here’s an example:
(This was a comment Tom left on a blog post about the EMD update. Tom was likely hit by the Panda update, not the EMD update. At that time, Google hadn’t announced they had done a Panda Update, thus the confusion for many publishers).
Does content being original make it quality?
Does content being a certain length make it quality?
If so, how many words? Is it 300? Is it 1000?
If content is outsourced, is it therefore not of quality?
I’m not picking on Tom, because I’ve never seen his sites and I do know what he was getting at. We’ve got this limited language to describe “quality.” So his comment struck a chord with me.
We talk a lot about quality content. And we talk a lot about good content being more then a few sentences (common sense, right?) and not copying content from other sources (double duh!).
But those things alone don’t make for real quality…
There’s an essence. A something else. Something more than just originality and word count.
A lot of publisherss with really bad sites (in the eyes of Google – and probably a lot of humans) are mad, because they just don’t or can’t see their site as low quality.
It’s your baby. Your craft it, you cradle it, you feed it links and plugins and words. And it’s hard to see it in other people’s eyes. It’s hard to see that it’s actually quite ugly and low quality when we’ve worked our fingers to the bone (and our brains to fried eggs) creating them.
And I think we need a better way to describe it than just “high quality.” That’s pretty subjective. We need a more objective, clear way to describe “high quality” content.
In the spirit of crowdsourcing, I want your input.
Is it like “hard-core pornography” in that it’s hard to define, but:
I know it when I see it.
I think we, as a whole community, can do better than that.
How would you describe quality content? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.