Matt Cutts Talks Google Panda Basics: Make Sure You've Got Quality Content

Matt Cutts

What should you do if you think your site might be affected by Google's Panda algorithm? And what types of content get impacted negatively by Panda? That is the topic of a recent video featuring Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts.

That first gives is a bit of a primer on how Panda rolled out previously and how it currently is rolling out into the search algorithm.

"So Panda is a change that we rolled out, at this point a couple years ago, targeted towards lower quality content. And it used to be that roughly every month or so, we would have a new update. And we would say, OK, there's something new, there's a launch, we've got new data, let's refresh the data.

"And it had gotten to the point where with Panda, the changes were getting smaller, they were more incremental. We had pretty good signals. We'd pretty much gotten the low hanging wins. So there weren't a lot of really big changes going on with the latest Panda changes."

So as Google got better at finding low quality content, they adjusted how and when new Panda updates would impact the search results.

"And we said, let's go ahead, and rather than have it be a discrete data push – that is, something that happens every month or so, at its own time, when we refresh the data, let's just go ahead and integrated into indexing. So at this point, we think that Panda is affecting a small enough number of webmasters on the edge that we said, let's go ahead and integrate it into our main process for indexing."

But what if you did get hit with Panda? First off, it likely means that your content is either poor quality, or it's of the cut-and-paste variety that can be found on many free article sites.

You should also check in your Google Webmaster Tools to see if there's any kind of alerts for you in your account that can help you determine if it is Panda or something else that is negatively affecting your Google search rankings.

"And so, if you think you might be affected by Panda, the overriding kind of goal is to try to make sure that you've got high-quality content, the sort of content that people really enjoy, that's compelling, the sort of thing that they'll love to read that you might see in a magazine or in a book, and that people would refer back to, or send friends to, those sorts of things," Cutts said. "So that would be the overriding goal."

So what if you think it might be the quality of your content that is affecting your rankings? Panda was pretty tough on many types of content that Google deemed to be of poor quality.

"So if you are not ranking as highly as you were in the past, overall, it's always a good idea to think about, OK, can I look at the quality of the content on my site? Is there stuff that's derivative, or scraped, or duplicate, and just not as useful?"

Not surprisingly, Cutts said this is a type of content that doesn't rank well, and it's the quality content that will be higher up in the Google search rankings.

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, JenniferSlegg.com and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.