We all know that Panda is supposed to increase the rankings for websites of higher quality, and lower the rankings for sites that are low quality. So what are these factors? What can google possibly be looking at to determine that one website is better than another?
Here are some factors I have seen or that have been mentioned somewhere along the way.
This seems to be a big one. Some people will say that ads play no role in panda but I am going to have to disagree with them. Ads can be a major part of your website, sometimes a little too major. If you can not tell where your ads end and your content begins, you may have too many ads that's causing your site to be punished by google.
The positioning of the ads can also play a factor. Giving advertisements prime position over your sites actual content is a sign that you would rather your visitors click on your ads instead of look at your content. Google can see this that your only purpose for your site is to direct your traffic to another source for monetary purposes.
2. Redundant/thin Content
If your site is about blue widgets, you might be inclined to put blue widgets everywhere possible to make sure google knows that your site is about blue widgets. Putting it in every page title or slightly varying the phrase to target other sub phrases can be detrimental to your efforts.
If you made a page just for the sole purpose of having it rank for a certain phrase and did not put much effort into the content on that page, you might be in trouble.
3. Lack of helpful information
Sometimes people do not know how to use your site. If they get lost on your site and have no way of getting help, this might be a negative signal to google. Putting a FAQ or a help section on your site can improve bounce rates and keep the user on your site longer.
4. Too much text / Not visually appealing
We all noticed the google site previews. So it is safe to say that they are looking at the site as a whole now and not just what text you have on a given page. Some negative factors here can be:
- Text is hard to read. Blends in with background too much or text is too small to red. Perhaps there are obstacles in the way that make it hard to read an entire article.
- Lack of videos, images and graphs to support your article. Rich media helps balance out any site. Some people learn better having something visual to look at such as images to further enhance what the article is talking about. Most typical MFA type sites are just page after page of text with little to no use of rich media objects.
- Text below the fold. Do you have a homepage full of rich content and then all the way at the bottom, a welcome paragraph that is there for the sole purpose of stuffing in important key words? If you need a welcome paragraph on your page, try to put it at the top, if its all the way at the bottom, it probably wont be read much anyway.
5. Offering something different
One thing I have noticed is that sites that stand out or offer something unique usually will be favored over dull, auto generated style pages.
For example, if you have an eCommerce site you probably have a lot of products that are listed on other ecommerce sites as well. Same product title, same product description etc. This is all fine, and contrary to what others believe, having the same product description as thousands of other websites will not get you in trouble with google. You will just be outranked by websites who are bringing more to the table. Some examples of this are:
- Linking to the user manual for the product.
- Showing reviews from members who have purchased the product.
- Showing products that are related or similar to the product that is being featured.
- Offering a unique review of the product, some things that might not be mentioned in the default product description.
- A video demonstration of the product in actual use.
- Unique images that show different angles of the product not found anywhere else.
I am personally tired of hearing the theory that using manufacturer descriptions will get you punished. That is not the case at all. Trust me, I have explored this theory over and over and over again. I have been building ecommerce websites for clients for over 14 years now and in 90% of the cases, we use the default product description. It is not wise to change the manufacturer description. Just like you would not change the title of the product, that would be bordering on misrepresentation of the product. It is not the duplicate description of the product that is getting you in trouble, its that you are not offering anything more than all the other ecommerce websites that sell the same product.
This is one of the reasons why Amazon ranks so high for almost every product they sell. They have unique user submitted images, videos, reviews etc of the products. They offer more unique data about a given product than most sites do. Want a great ecommerce site? Start studying what amazon does.
I planned on writing much more but I didn't realize how busy my day would get so I need to run for now. I hope others will feel free to contribute to the list in the mean time.