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Google's Panda... a gift to web content editors

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Web content editors... new value from the Panda at Google

Earlier this year Google decided to give more weight to the quality of content on a website in deciding how to rank various sites. For some, consternation struck. More than a few websites reported a significant reduction in their previous search standing.

"Panda" was the evil that came upon the land. For some. For others it was a decided plus. If you haven't read much yet about about Panda the best place to start is with the May 6 entry at Google's own Webmaster Central Blog.

For web content editors, here's a special quote from the blog:
    • "Removing low quality pages, merging or improving the content of individual shallow pages into more useful pages, or moving low quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher quality content."
In other words, fix "low quality content" or get it off the website you'd like to rank as high as possible in search results. You likely are not going to start an entire new domain location... but then why should poorly prepared content stay on a site anyway? Until now, who cared about it? Now, you may have a new weapon to either fix it or remove it.

Low Quality Website Content Defined

OK, but what are signs of "low quality" content that a web content editor should be able to fix, either individually or working with "content stewards" throughout the college or university? Here are some questions Google now is programmed to ask:
    • "Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?"
    • "Was the article edited well or does it appear hastily or sloppily produced?"
    • "Does this article a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?'
    • "Are the articles short, unsubstantial or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
And what just might be my favorite:
    • "Would users complain when they see pages from this site?"
Analytics to Help Google Spot "Low Quality" Content

How, you might ask, will Google measure some of these things? Expect new weight on these elements you can check in your web analytics results: length of time on a page, number of pages visited during a visit, and bounce rate (people who start at their "landing page," stay a few seconds, and "bounce" away from the site without going anywhere else). Yes, bounce rate is not a myth.

Take all this together and Google has just given every college and university in the land more reason to hire web content specialists and give them stronger positions in making website decisions. Web editors, of course, should not hesitate to leverage this change within their institutions.

Check "New" Visitor Behavior on Your Site

Set your Google Analytics to "new" visitors. Check the "Top Landing Pages" over the past 6 months. Compare the length of time on a landing page, where people went after that page, and the bounce rate from the landing page (assuming you expected or wanted them to go someplace else within the site). You just might find pages that are hurting your SEO results.

New "Writing Right for the Web" Event
That's all for now.

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