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Google’s New Direction: Content is King

Our previous blog post indicated that Google’s Panda update was only part of a bigger effort to turn the web publishing world back right-side-up, giving quality content the weight over mere quantity and SEO. We’ve also featured the 24 questions Google offered as guidance to understanding their new direction. Now, let’s look at what this means for you content.

A quick note: since Google is aiming to do the right thing here (whether or not they’re going about it the right way, which remains to be seen), this article will NOT be peddling the next SEO tricks to circumvent their efforts. Instead, we’ll follow in the spirit of Panda and look at content from the user’s perspective, and how it can improve your Google pagerank.

For specific SEO tips, there are many sources on the web already. One good summery was given on the SEOptimise blog titled ‘30 (New) Google Ranking Factors You May Over- or Underestimate’.

Now, without further ado...

Defining Quality

As mentioned previously, quality is tricky to define when it comes to search engine bots that can only deal with quantifiable terms. So Google’s process involved identifying certain attributes of websites that users and testers appreciated more than other.

From the guiding questions, several categories emerge. These can be grouped into three classes:

  1. Trust, Credibility, and Authority
  2. Originality and Value
  3. Style, Grammar, and Best Practices

Trust, Credibility, and Authority

From an SEO standpoint, it’s no secret that authority is largely influenced by back-links. But when a user arrives on your page he has no way of knowing what’s going on in the background. He has only your brand, content, and layout to go by.

Some organizations have reached a point where their reputation precedes them and commands implicit trust. But what about the rest of us who aren’t quite there yet? How can we lend credibility to our own content and make it trustworthy?

In a word: sources.

If you are not an authority on a given subject, refer to someone who is. There’s a reason citations and the use of sources are standard practices in Journalism. They indicate three things:

  • That you’ve done your research and know what you’re talking about.
  • That someone else corroborates the information you’re providing
  • That this someone isn’t your buddy, but an authority on the subject

Avoid throwing numbers around or statements like: ‘studies show...’ or ‘it has been demonstrated...’ without referencing the relevant studies or sources.

Also, be careful when choosing sources. The web is adding 150,000 URLs daily, so it’s safe to assume there’ll be someone, somewhere, saying pretty much anything. Your responsibility is to make sure the ‘someone’ you choose to quote actually knows what they’re talking about. Writer’s Resources has a link with great tips for evaluating web sources.

By consistently providing trustworthy (read: corroborated) information, you may gradually earn credibility and grow to become an authority yourself.

(Appearance can influence trust as well, we’ll touch on that below)

Originality and Value

These pertain to the fundamental purpose of your page: is it about the content, or is the content just an excuse for your page? Is your primary intent to say something meaningful and valuable with the potential of enriching your readers, or are you just stringing them along and will ultimately waste their time?

This is especially important in our SEO-centric times, with competition escalating for that search engine sweet-spot. But SEO is a new field, and there are no straight cut answers, only techniques. Some work. Some don’t. Some focus on delivering short-term results, while others take into account the bigger picture. Make sure you think ahead when evaluating any given technique or strategy and avoid playing into so-called ‘gray areas’ (doorway pages are a perfect example of how sneaky tricks will eventually get you slammed—just ask BMW).

It’s unlikely that Google will perfect their A.I.s to genuinely discriminate quality anytime soon, so SEO is here to stay and has its proper place in your virtual toolbox. But publishing comes with a responsibility: to add value. You wouldn’t rob a man of his hard-earned cash with fly-by-night schemes, so you shouldn’t rob him of his time with useless, generic, and non-focused verbiage.

Style, Grammar, and Best Practices

If some ragged figure on the street began spouting health tips you’d probably not even stop to consider whether his words have any merit. That’s because, like it or not, appearances tell us something about people. It’s the same with websites. The World Wide Web is your street and a website is your storefront. If it looks sluggish, tattered, cluttered, or otherwise disingenuous—you’ll be passed by and ignored. To be taken seriously, you must look professional.

A polished website will help inspire trust—or, at the very least, will not throw up any red-flags, giving your content a chance to speak for itself. But a rough design laden with ‘salesy’ copy, grammatical errors, or apparent ignorance of Journalistic best practices, will inevitably undermine your credence, even if the content is otherwise genuine.


Whether you write your own content or delegate the task to somebody else, keeping these things in mind and maintaining a level of quality control is crucial to the long-term success of your website and business. Good content will not only help you rank well in search engines and draw people to your site, it will keep them engaged and coming back for more.

Remember, the goal of inbound marketing is not only to be found—but to be found useful. That’s a big difference.



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Google Panda Update: The Dawn of a New World Wide Web?

posted by Maty Grosman @ 10:17 AM