On Nov 16th Google made a change that impacted a good number of sites. Some asked Google if it was a Panda update and Google said it was one of 500 changes Google made per year but was not a Panda/Penguin update, one of those is due out this week. You can read about some of the affected sites in the monthly seo thread here - [webmasterworld.com...]
- The change was not sitewide, it impacted individual pages while leaving others alone
- Unique and on topic content on each page
- Very little else is definitive but we did have pages to compare within the same domains
While comparing affected pages nothing about the page, from an SEO perspective, stood out. Backlink profiles were varied but similar to the non-affected pages. On my own site the pages affected seemed to be more brand/transactional in nature but some of these were untouched as well.
- The one common denominator on all affected pages was medium quality content. The pages I "beefed up" from Nov 17th to 21st have already recovered(as of yesterday).
What struck me is that this isn't the low quality type content you'd expect to see receive a downgrade. 100% unique, accurate, on topic and useful content received the downgrade but in all cases there was either not enough useful information or it was worded a little too generically and would likely get a borderline rating by a human review. Definitely not spam but only of marginal usefulness, too narrow in scope or not comprehensive enough to solve a problem.
The speed with which these pages are bouncing back, and the fact that the pages I haven't "fixed" yet aren't, suggests it's not a penalty but rather a low quality downgrade that can be resolved easily.
I thought I'd share this since some are getting drastic with their changes. "thin" content took a hit a long time ago, I'd say medium content with only minimal usefulness just did as well. Simply being "unique", "original" and "on topic" doesn't mean anything anymore.
Broad quality downgrades are not exclusive to Panda/Penguin!