Beware the web developer who says, “Just send me your content.” If you’re going to write your own website content, you’d better first make sure that you understand the quality that Google wants before you let loose your creative muse.
So why should you care about Google’s demands?
First, because Google has cornered 60% of the market for desktop searches and 92% for mobile searches. Google dominates, so it calls the shots about quality.
Second, you should care if you hope to rank well and be easy to find. Sadly it’s very easy to get lost on the Internet – in fact it takes no effort at all. Whereas to be found on page one or two, or even page 10, of any search result takes a huge amount of effort.
This is the power of Google: Let’s say we want to find information about healthy food choices, so we type “healthy eating” into the search bar. My search brought up 63 200 000 results – that’s over 63 million web pages on the topic! How many of those pages would you have the patience to scan before you find what you want – 5, 10, 15 …?
Fortunately you won’t have to look around for too long, because you can be sure that Google has pulled up the very best ones on the topic and displayed them up front in its search results. All the hard work is done by its Panda algorithms which sniff out with ruthless accuracy which pages offer the best quality information.
Google’s criteria for quality are laid out in its 146-page Search Quality Raters Guidelines. But if you don’t want to wade through that that hefty document, you can read on here to get a nutshell overview of how to pass the Panda test.
10 Ways To High-Q Your Website
1.Understand user intent
Do keyword research to find out what your visitors typically search for (i.e. what search terms are ranking) and provide that information to them. Think about the words they would type to find your pages and include those words in your content. Panda matches user intent with the purpose of a page and the type of content and strives to give users exactly what they are looking for.
Write at an expert level – no novice content. Show that you are an expert in your field with information that is relevant, well researched and clearly explained. Ditch the jargon – write in plain English and avoid complex industry terminology. For example, if you’re a doctor, write about medical conditions in language that your patients will understand.
Demonstrate your credentials. This is where it’s important to have relevant biographies, or to list your qualifications, awards, citations, publications, original research, speaking engagements, client list, past experience, professional memberships, LinkedIn profiles – anything that shows that your knowledge and expertise are genuine.
Authentic testimonials are critical because visitors want to see evidence of customer satisfaction. Also include as much as you can about the work you have done – case studies, project reviews, photos, portfolios, events you participate in, social responsibility activities, customer stories. Use the content on your site to build your reputation and create trust
5. A satisfying amount of main content
Put meaty content onto each page. Panda homes in on content-rich pages. But aren’t we supposed to avoid giving people too much to read online? Not anymore. The answer is to give them lots to read in bite-sized chunks, with engaging headlines, bullet points, images, clever layout that draws the eye to read more, and more. Panda especially favours home pages that have a lot going on – your homepage needs to be the magazine front page – loads of information to whet the appetite and want to delve deeper into the site.
6. Great user experience
Make the user experience (UX) easy and interesting for visitors. Start with quick page load speed. Then make sure that contact information is accurate and easy to find. Keep the navigation simple so that users can move from page to page and link to link and then get back to where they started without any confusion. Confused, frustrated visitors leave – Panda will judge you harshly for that.
7. Keep content fresh
Give visitors a reason to pay you repeat visits. Publish blogs, news, new case studies, reviews of industry events – in any industry there is a host of information that you can leverage to ensure that your content stays up to date. Panda expects your content to be current and relevant at all times and can smell stale info mouldering in the back corners of any website from a mile away.
8. Your money or your life (YMYL)
This term comes from Google’s guidelines. It refers to any content that could have a financial impact on users, or affect their health or wellbeing. Google wants websites that deal with YMYL – happiness, health or wealth – to be of the highest quality. It singles out these categories:
Shopping and financial transactions – e.g. anything to do with online payments, banking, ordering products & services, payment information.
- Financial information – e.g. investments, taxes, retirement planning, home purchase, buying insurance, tuition fees
- Medical information – e.g. pharmaceuticals, medical diseases & conditions, nutrition, niche health sites
- Legal pages – all types of legal information
- Other – this is really broad; it covers anything to do with happiness and wellbeing, from adoption to car safety
9. Pay attention to the detail
Panda will punish you for small errors. Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes, wrong information, duplicate content, broken links (those dreaded 401 pages) or too many ads on your site, or you’ll be graded with a fat red ‘F’.
10. Mobile friendly
Since 92% of mobile searches are happening on Google, it stands to reason that Panda will reject your site if it’s not mobile friendly. This is a last call to all those dinosaur websites out there – you need to upgrade to a mobile-adaptable format now!